A rather unfortunate incident happened yesterday (Sept. 28, 2014). Protesters led by bloggers Roy Ngerng and Han Hui Hui marched up toward a YMCA event and heckled a group of special needs children's dance routine.
Right before they were about to start.
Many know of Han’s and Ngerng’s vitriol and fury against the People’s Action Party. Colourful language and so-called truisms often feature in their speeches at the protests. Granted, their audacious speeches offered entertainment in spades and catharsis for people watching their protests from Youtube, while they score some political points.
But heckling special needs children? That, to me, is a new low in local politics.
According to The Straits Times, the dancers from Y Stars were visibly shocked.
Minister of State for Trade and Industry Teo Ser Luck, who was the guest-of-honour, added that he “had to console one of the handicapped children who was frightened by all the heckling”.
Who wouldn’t? Not everyone is as fearless as Han clearly is.
The days and weeks spent practicing for a 5-minute number destroyed by an act described as vile, shameful and unbecoming.
I know too well of the effort and hours of training put in by these dancers.
My sister has Down Syndrome and she too, likes to dance. To her, dancing is a purely joyful activity. For as long as I can remember, she’s always dancing in her room with the hi-fi cranked to 11.
The fact that she doesn’t just dance like a headless chicken like many of us do, amazes me; my sister actually choreographs her own moves and memorises the steps for various songs so that no one performance is the same.
Whenever she finishes her gigs, she never fails to remind me of her talent with pictures and videos of her performances. It saddens me just to imagine how she would have been affected if she were one of the dancers at the YMCA event yesterday.
I’m not sure if she would have cried but I’m certain that her confidence would have taken a severe beating as would anyone else’s.
No one deserves this kind of treatment. Heck, it’s not even a special needs kids issue anymore.
It’s about a rather fundamental thing – respect. Surely every performer – special needs or not – deserves some of it.
Of course, protestors naturally want to make their voices heard. But at least pick your battles. Is a YMCA family event even a good place to start?
As Lee Kuan Yew would have put it: “Prepare your knuckledusters and I will meet you at the cul-de-sac. One on one.”
But clenching your fists at a family event? Really?
Many had blamed NParks which permitted both events to be held on the same day, which they say would inevitably lead to clashes. But Ngerng and Han had a choice - to protest peacefully or to ruin the day of people attending and performing at the YMCA event. They chose the latter.
It reeks of desperation from the protesters, who probably thought that any publicity is better than no publicity.
If their plan was to galvanise the public and get them on their side for 2016, their actions yesterday have already taken some shine off them.
To conclude a truly senseless day in Singapore politics and in his warped sense of reality, Ngerng wrote, “Singaporeans, we made history today. We stood our ground and we fought for our rights.”
History was made. But unfortunately it is a history that many Singaporeans would be ashamed of, and never want repeated.
Top photo from here.