Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Protestors or Pedestrians?

Somewhere in the midst of all the reports on protest activity (yes! Even in Singapore!) was this picture of expatriate women in Singapore wearing red. Supposedly, they were wearing red as part of global action Friday to support the Myanmar protests.

Some bloggers are questioning if the Singapore authorities were practicing double standards, especially since 5 SDP were arrested yesterday recently for protesting outside the Istana.

Taking sides on this issue will either make one looks like an apologist for the boys in blue, or a die-hard government critic. So I will do neither.

What I did, however, was take a closer look at the picture, and I found several clues to suggest that the ang moh ladies may not have been protestors at all.

At least four of the ladies appear to be wearing name tags. One of them is carrying a bottle of water while another – the Asian woman in the center – has a small camera in a pouch. More important perhaps is what they are *not* carrying. I don’t see any placards or flyers.

The “leader” appears to be reading from a text while the rest listen passively. Nobody appears to be chanting or saying anything.

I am not sure of the location but it is likely to be somewhere in Singapore since that looks like a HDB block in the background, and the building in the foreground in reminiscent of restored heritage buildings that have become quite common. If one were to protest against the Myanmar or Singapore governments, surely there would be better places e.g. along Orchard Road, in front of City Hall, outside the Embassy or Istana?

My guess is that the ladies were members of a tour group. If so, why were they decked in red/pink/orange? It is plausible that some of them decided to wear red(dish) as a sign of solidarity with the Burmese (assuming the picture is recent), but there could be other explanations as well.

Just goes to show that we can’t take what we see at face value … even if it comes the jpeg format.

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