Why Occupy Singapore Failed

This post is part of our special coverage #Occupy Worldwide.

It seems Singaporeans are preoccupied with something else because nobody showed up in the OccupyRafflesPlace event which could have been the Singapore equivalent of the Occupy Wall Street protest. Raffles Place is Singapore’s financial district.

The protest was first announced on Facebook

Occupy Singapore is about engaging the public in the democratic process and creating a new form of democracy. It has become clear that our “leaders” can no longer handle the responsibility of becoming a representative of the people. So, we invite all to join us in occupying the Singapore Financial District aka Raffles Place.

We are a peaceful, non-violent resistance movement that aims to encourage people to participate in democracy and use their voices to influence positive change. We are the 99% and our voice will be heard.

But Singapore Sojourn notes that instead of going to Raffles Place, Singaporeans went to a food event

With the Occupy Wall Street protesters figuring prominently in the news it comes as no surprise to learn that there are copycat demonstrations springing up like mushrooms.

There is a Facebook Page that someone has put up but it has failed to mobilise the masses and motivate them sufficiently to assemble at Raffles Place.

As one Facebook contributor said “Instead of going to Raffles Place today, everyone went to #OccupyBenJerryChunkfest instead”. Given the Singaporean love of a good food event this is hardly surprising.

Patricia Lau commented on Facebook that the organizers should have first clarified the objectives of the event

‎@Occupy Singapore, so are you going to Raffles Place to shop or to protest? Perhaps you should make the objective of your “OccupyRafflesPlace” event clear.

Mr Brown said there were more journalists than ‘protesters’ in the venue

The (unintentionally) funniest Singapore-related Facebook page right now is Occupy Singapore. This bunch, with much fanfare, announced that they too, will join the Occupy movement that started with Occupy Wall Street in New York City.

On Saturday, Occupy Raffles Place was to take place under the leadership of these mysterious rebels without a clue. At zero hour, well, zero turned up. There were more journos there than protesters.

Some blamed the protest failure to the threat issued by the police against those who will join an illegal public demonstration. Lucky Tan said the no-show in Raffles Place reflects the ‘repressive political climate’ in the country.

We cannot interpret the no show by Singaporeans at Raffles Place as a lack of problems in Singapore. We have the highest income inequality among developed nations – higher than many of the countries where there were protests. There is serious structural unemployment and deep unhappiness with the large foreign influx.

Nothing happened at Raffles Place today. A sad reflection of the repressive political climate, draconian laws, and a citizenry that has capitulated to the belief that they cannot change, shouldn't try to change, shouldn't be bothered to change what is not right about our society today.

Gilbert Goh thinks Singaporeans are not yet ready for an Occupy Movement type of protest

Singaporeans – pretty divided by nature, individualistic and not the gutsy type – are not prime candidates for organizers to galvanize in any illegal street protest. No one dares to go against the law by being openly defiant – there is the danger that he will not only face police charges but also jeopardize his employment status if he is arrested.

We are perhaps too boxed in by fear and cultural inhibitions to ever pull off a public protest effectively.

Singapore will never be ready for the Occupy Raffles Place protest event given the tight control wielded by our authorities.

Every little dissent is clamped down and Singaporeans have nowhere to vet their frustrations except through the cyber space channels.

Ng E-Jay insists there are valid reasons to protest against the economic inequality in Singapore

However, the issues confronting Singaporeans are exactly the same as the issues raised by protestors all around the world.

Just because the majority of people of the civilized world enjoy the freedom of peaceful assembly but we do not, does not make the issues any less real for Singaporeans. The denial of peaceful assembly only serves to sweep the issues under the carpet where they will ferment until the government cannot control or contain them anymore.

funny little world commends the organizers for attempting to stage a protest

I might not necessarily agree with their message (yet), but I stand by their right to try, to assemble, to make their voices heard. And knowing Singapore, I have to give my respect to the organisers for stepping forward to make this attempt. They, at least, are not just keyboard warriors.

Some of the comments from Singaporeans I have seen have also betrayed what might be a pervasive Singaporean mindset; namely, a revulsion of public protests and demonstrations, no matter how peaceful. There seems to be a misconception that any sort of public assembly undermines the country’s security and economic growth, thus “bringing us down”. There also seems to be a widespread belief that any sort of protest will inevitably lead to chaos that will plunge Singapore into darkness.

But the author also blamed them for poor planning

It was all very disappointing. I guess it was just poor planning; there’s much more to starting and organising a movement than just creating the FB and Twitter pages and asking people to turn up.

The organizers have already apologized for the failure of the protest. They promise to organize a bigger and better action next time.

The group commented that “just because we didn’t talk to the media doesn’t mean we weren’t there. We are obviously very disappointed with the lack of ground support, We take the blame for lack of logistics and planning, and we apologise for any inconvenience caused”.

They expressed their appreciation to all who had turned up and promised to do “it bigger and better next time”.

This post is part of our special coverage #Occupy Worldwide.


Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.