22 March 2015


So today I packed myself a picnic lunch.

I slipped on my new heels, grabbed my kite and prepared to run down to the local park so I could lean back and eat, smoke and drink.

It was cloudy – so I took my umbrella too.

I was planning on doing a little jumping on the spot as well.

When I got to the park I was thwarted.

I often am.

This sign greeted me:

My friends from other parts of the world think I make stuff up about Singapore and the madness here.

Yeah OK – I often do.

In this instance I am not though.

Making it up.

This sign is the real deal.

They are all over the place.

I often wonder who it is in government that decides such stuff.

No leaning?


No heels or umbrellas?

It rains here all the time.

Suddenly and violently.

I challenge injustice by nature. My parents raised me thus as well - however rules are rules, and consequences can be severe here on the Island.

It is quite possible that wearing heels in a non-heel zone could carry a heavy term of imprisonment in Singapore and I am fairly sure that flying a kite is punishable by twenty lashes of the cane.

I understand that leaning in a public park is a capital offence.

Leaners are caned then hung and then set on fire.

They are then hung again.

Or it that hanged?

Either way – it is not pleasant.

The words ‘can’ and ‘la’ are the most common that are uttered on the Island however both are trumped by ‘cannot’.

Many things are a ‘cannot’.

I have written previously about the illegality of nudity here in Singapore.

It is not permitted.

Even in your own home.

If a native were to pass by your window and see you naked they could call the police who would be compelled to arrest you.

I am most serious.

Google it.

So feeling somewhat dejected – and carrying my kite, umbrella, picnic basket – and limping in my new heels – I passed by Singapore’s Speaker’s Corner.

The original Speakers Corner is located in Hyde Park in London.

It was established in the late nineteenth entry to allow for British citizens to exercise their freedom of speech in a public domain. I have been there on a number of times before and I have witnessed all manner of lunatics standing up on boxes and speaking their mind.

It was very entertaining.

Great and significant orators such as George Orwell and Karl Marx have made magnificent speeches at the English Speakers Corner however I was not there to witness these speeches.

I am not quite that old.

The Singapore equivalent Of Speakers Corner is located in the Hong Lim Park just outside the central business district of Singapore and was established on the first of September in the year 2000. I have been there before on a number of occasions but have I never seen anyone actually speaking.

Publically speaking that is.

I have witnessed groups of people having normal everyday conversations there.

As with all things in Singapore there are a number of rules and regulations that apply to speaking at Speakers Corner and these are listed under the Public Entertainments and Speaking Act.

When I arrived at the park I was a bit surprised to see that it was surrounded by a dozen or so very heavily armed policemen. They were all carrying enormous machine guns and they were looking very serious. I strolled nonchalantly into the park and approached a quite elderly officer. He was the only one not carrying a machine gun and he looked as if he was in charge.

"Good morning uncle" I announced.

"Are you expecting trouble?"

"Maybe" he grunted.

"Kites?" I enquired.

"Perhaps" he replied.

"You will shoot them?"


"I would like to give a protest speech about the English. Can?"

"You have a permit?"

"I do not"

"Then cannot"

"Cannot?" I asked.

"Cannot,” he repeated.

"But there is no-one here to listen" I retorted.

"It would be like speaking to myself"


"OK what if I sat on the lawn over there and spoke quietly to myself. Can?

"You have a permit?"

"I do not"

"Then cannot"

"Is leaning permitted here?" I enquired.

I received a stern but blank look that I could only assume was a 'no'

I was a bit worried about the guys with the guns so I decided that pursuing the matter any further was both futile and also potentially dangerous. I am also quite OK protesting about the English direct to the English in my own office for I do this on a daily basis anyway.

Anyone who would like to speak at Speakers Corner here in Singapore must register their intention to speak at the Kreta Ayer Police Station no less than thirty days before they intend speaking.

Under the legislation only Singaporean citizens or permanent residents of Singapore are allowed to speak. As a guest of Singapore who is working here on an Employment Pass I am ineligible to publicly voice my opinions or protest or demonstrate at Speakers Corner. 

Even about the English.

Even with a permit.

The use of banners, flags, photographs, signs or writing is prohibited and people making speeches can only do so in one of the four official languages of Singapore. These are English, Mandarin, Tamil or Malay. Speeches are not permitted that deal with any subject that relate to religion or race. Topics that may cause feelings of "enmity, hatred, ill-will or hostility" are also not permitted and no political demonstrations are allowed.

Otherwise complete and utter freedom of speech is permissible.

It seemed futile to have my picnic and kite flying lunch here and I was too afraid to linger and lean so I went home.

It turns out that the police are in full swing on the island as the current Prime Minister’s father – the very first Prime Minister – Mr. Lee Kwan Yue - is gravely ill and his death is imminent.

He is – and soon be was – a very great man who every Singaporean should be proud of

I am not quite sure why his imminent death requires such a big police presence on the streets however I am a bit nervous about asking anyone why.

It may well be illegal.

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