Nothing spells a PR disaster more than the clash between the CPF protesters and a Grassroots-organized YMCA event at Hong Lim Park on 27 September 2014. Shots were fired on social media on views of the political scene in Singapore.
Hong Lim Park is a event space loved by many because it is free and you only have to attain approval from NParks regarding the nature of the event. According to NEA, it is normal to have more than one event to be held on the same day. This time, however, it is a bad decision to be putting the anguish CPF protesters led by Roy Ngerng and Han Hui Hui, and the YMCA event graced by some Grassroots leaders for special-needs children. According to the media, NParks had demarcated the larger area of Hong Lim Park for the YMCA event and a smaller area for the CPF protest. This didn’t stop Han Hui Hui and the protesters from marching beyond their allocated area and reportedly “heckling” the special-needs children performance.
To “heckle” means to “interrupt (a public speaker) with derisive or aggressive comments or abuse”. The suitability of the word used by The Straits Times is up to your discretion.
Points of view:
Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing and Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin both shared their opinions on Facebook. Netizens were furious with the media reports on it, many condemning the actions of Han Hui Hui and their form of demonstration during this episode of the CPF protest. Han Hui Hui also retaliated on social media, seeking redress on the issue. Social media seems to be the only viable way for oppositions when it comes to differing political agendas – it is free, generally unregulated and massive in reach.
Who can you trust on social media anyway? Anyone who is reading becomes an audience, and taking in the random throwing of statutes and statistics in the argument, it gives credibility in strengthening the argument. Case-in point: don’t believe all that you’ve read.
Social media is not a perfect tool when it comes to disseminating information. Remember how PAP had altered the photograph angle to reveal a massive crowd in 2011? There is certainly some form of distortion when it comes to representing this episode of protest, and it is appearing to side the government more. On a video posted by TheOnlineCitizen regarding the supposed “heckling”, the protesters left promptly after the special-needs children are due to perform. There are also issues according to Han Hui Hui’s Facebook, on how a “NParks officer said to revoke [her] rights to protest after [they] agreed to move?”
This spells a PR disaster for people with political agendas should all learn from. For the case of Han Hui Hui, going ahead to seek redress against an event that is designed for special-needs children is already a morally-condemned act. And by the time Roy Ngerng and Han Hui Hui realized that, it is all too little, too late.
Photos: The Straits Times Writer: Leong Chee Sheng