Umbrella Revolution

 Source: AP

Source: AP

In 2010, a self-immolation of a street vendor in a provincial town of Sidi Bouzid sparked mass anti-government protests. Protests and uprising grew from Tunisia into neighbouring countries. That single event led to the Arab Spring movement, bringing down along with it several Arab regimes. Egypt, Lybia, Yemen, Syria, Morocco, Bahrain, Syria and Jordan all fell victims to Arab Spring protests in varying degrees. The protests are a result of years of suppressed resentment of government. Rapid population growth led to high unemployment. Aging dictatorship and corruption added fuel to the already fragile situation. And the protest movement is spreading, to Asia. 

Reuters “Tens of thousands of pro-democracy protesters blocked Hong Kong streets in the early hours on Tuesday, maintaining pressure on China as it faces one of its biggest political challenges since the Tiananmen Square crackdown 25 years ago.

Riot police had largely withdrawn and there were none of the clashes, tear gas and baton charges that had erupted over the weekend. As tensions eased, some exhausted demonstrators slept on roadsides while others sang songs or chanted slogans. (…..)

The protesters, mostly students, are demanding full democracy and have called on the city’s leader Leung Chun-ying to step down after Beijing last month announced a plan to limit 2017 elections for Hong Kong’s leader, known as the Chief Executive, to a handful of candidates loyal to Beijing.”

ChannelNewsAsia“Hong Kong demonstrators on Tuesday (Sep 30) rejected demands to immediately end rallies that have paralysed the city’s downtown, their numbers swelling for a third night ahead of a national holiday that is expected to put their campaign for free elections into overdrive.

Protest leaders are confident they can muster massive crowds overnight and into Wednesday for the National Day public holiday, which this year marks the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China.”

Protests normally start peacefully with the motive to pressure governments to reform. It is a call for change when governments do not perform or have acted towards the detriment of the populace. It is a cry for help of the citizenry when all else fails. In Singapore, protests are only allowed in a tiny Hong Lim park adjacent a police station. Protesters need to seek a permit to protest in the park and nowhere else. But even this little privilege is tightly controlled.

In recent months, protests were held to highlight critical issues about the welfare of citizens that the government has allegedly ignored. These protests had been peaceful until last week when events seem to take a ominous turn for the worse when the permit issuing authority (National Parks) made a horrible “mistake” to issue two parties to hold events at the same place and time. That resulted in the Parks authority having to assuage one of the parties to make way for the double-booked space for their “mistake”. The following video was taken on-site showing what transpired during the event.

Hong Kong just started the “Umbrella Revolution”. Will miscarriage of justice precipitate a similar revolution in this tightly-gagged nation? Singapore citizens may not have the same privilege of protest as in other “democratic” societies. But silent protests can be more detrimental in the long term if underlying issues are not properly addressed.

Psalm 82:3
Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.