Sunday, June 27, 2010

Dear Oliver, I'm sorry.

Bacon Bits here just learnt that the Swiss graffiti artist Oliver Fricker, who had a month or two ago broken into our SMRT depot to tag an MRT train, is receiving 3 strokes of Singapore's cruel cane, accompanied by 5 months in jail:
But Swiss IT consultant Oliver Fricker ... failed to convince District Judge See Kee Oon that a deterrent sentence was not in order.

Finding that Fricker, 32, had displayed a "calculated criminal conduct", Judge See sentenced him to five months' jail and three strokes of the cane.

The sentence was handed down about six hours after Fricker pleaded guilty, around noon, to charges of vandalism and entering a protected place. A third charge stating that he had committed an act of vandalism by cutting the fence of the depot was taken into consideration.

Judge See agreed with Deputy Public Prosecutor Sharon Lim who said Fricker had committed "a very serious offence" - and that the whole incident had "alarmed the general public" and "shaken their confidence in the security of protected places".
Shake my confidence in the security of protected places!? What fucking rubbish!

The only thing that is being reinforced here is the stranglehold that the State has on the insecurities in its people of itself. The fear that Singapore insists in instilling in her people of the elusive terrorist, of the potential invasions by our regional neighbours, of all sorts of bloody calamities effected by external enemies who hate the State and apparently also her people. The constant insistence that I need to be wary of suspicious looking people at all my public spots, and that I need to mindful that there're terrorists out there waiting to kill me and my family.

Strangely enough, I already know that.

I also know that if the terrorists really want to get us, they're likely going to go about it in ways and at times least expected. Because terrorism is essentially an element of surprise. That's why it's scary: you never know when it's going to happen.

But I also don't know when I'm going to die. I also don't know when I'd finally meet the Hamsomest Porkchop of my life. I also don't know when my buses and trains arrive. I also don't know what my life will be like in the future: will I be happy, sad, single, sick, with kids, unemployed, married, with a cat (hello Cat in the Cream!), the first gay porcine Prime Minister of Singapore, a war hero, a dissenter, or even a terrorist?

This fear that our State security can be compromised should be like any other existential woe. It is difficult to dissipate but we roll with it as and when the shit hits the fan. Instead, what we have now is constant pressure to turn this precautionary stance into a debilitating phobia that arrests us in our own minds and country. There're basically two types of people who we're also encouraged to be wary of. If by media standards (read: stereotyping), it's always going to be some darker-skinned person, or who looks like he might be a Muslim (that's two assumptions there: male and Muslim), or who looks poor, or doesn't speak well, etc.

If like me you have actually been physically attacked by random pigs, you know that the kindest and friendliest people can indeed turn into major arseholes who'd beat you up. The only way to effectively get around this is to either develop an unhealthy paranoia of everyone, or become a conspiracy theorist who never leaves his/her house.

But I don't want to live in a state of constant arrest. I don't want to fear for all these potential arseholes who are out to get me and my barnmates. So I refuse to put on my tinfoil hat and x-ray glasses and with all those off, I inadvertently gain a clarity and the eventual realisation that there's someone else far more frightening than real and imagined criminals.

In the case of the People versus Oliver Fricker [2010], who is the one sending terror down my spine? Allow me to share with you what Jolene Tan dug up for her argument against caning, published at The Online Citizen--from a victim of State atrocity: (do read her whole article, it's really good!)
I heard the cane. It sounded like a plank hitting the wall. A split second later I felt it was tearing across my buttocks. I screamed and struggled like a mad animal. All I thought was that I want to run away. If I’m not tied up, one stroke could keep me running for a mile.

And I just could not control my screams. It went on and on, one stroke, one minute. Some lashes fall on the same spot, splitting open the skin even more.

Some prisoners urinate and even faint because of the pain. I felt giddy and went limp on the trestle at the last stroke. My bleeding buttocks throbbed with pain and felt like they were on fire.

A few prisoners pretend to faint to escape more strokes but the warder will go on flogging to see if you cry out. That’s because if you’re conscious, you will scream.

After we were flogged, a medical officer applied some antiseptic on the wounds. My buttocks then swelled to twice their normal size. My thighs went blue-black. I had to go without shorts for more than two weeks so that my wounds could heal. I couldn’t sit or sleep on my back or bathe all this time either.

The pain burns in your mind long after it is over. Until now I have nightmares about it.
You know who scares the shit out of me? It is none other than the bloody State! A State that can so easily turn to arcanely barbaric corporal punishment involving intentionally splitting people's skin with the crack of a cane because so-and-so premeditated some crime. A State that continually justifies the premeditated use of such punishment because--and I paraphrase--this is written in the books, you know our practices, so if you don't want to suffer these consequences, then you jolly well don't transgress.

Really? So if you decide that, hey, thieves should have their fingers chewed off by sewer rats, or that male rapists get their penises skewered by a satay stick, or that homosexuals get publicly stoned to death, or that spouse abusers will have mouths stitched together, then it's all okay. Because, come on, don't like the punishment? Just don't commit those illegal acts.

Make no mistake here, the message might be subtle but eerily clear: the confidence that the State has the will, power, and temperament of an enraged hulk must be protected. It is not an entity to be fucked with because it will unleash its cruelty against you even if you do something as completely harmless as give commuters a delightful experience. Peddling fear of others, fear of truths, and fear of the State. State torture. State murder. State terror. This State will tell you when, where and how to have fun; please, declare and surrender all imagination, initiative and peace of mind at immigration checkpoint.

Dear Oliver, on behalf of the many Singaporeans and farm animals who don't believe in the legitimacy of your sentencing, that tag was awesome, and I'm sorry for my country.


  1. So what do you think would be an appropriate punishment for him? (If he should be punished at all?)

  2. Jail and fine, should this really be deemed impossibly egregious.


  3. Nice one Piggo.

    ...failed to convince District Judge See Kee Oon that a deterrent sentence was not in order.

    This is really fucking ignorant. Deterrence is by definition irrelevant to the crime already committed. The question is (well, besides whether it's acceptable for the state to beat the living shit out of someone) whether the government has any serious evidence that caning sentences deter. If it's got this evidence, it's keeping it well-hidden.

    I increasingly think they do things like this because they get a kick out of it; they think if they do horrifying shit that the rest of the world finds frightening, that makes them bad-ass, instead of tinpot tyrants.

  4. They can't keep Mas Selamat in.
    They can't keep Oliver Fricker out.

    Some fricking system we have on this little red dot!

    Fricker exposed our train depot security weaknesses in the same way that hackers expose firewall weaknesses. Hence, it has allowed those of us who have been complacent to now get our act together. For that, we should be thankful as Fricker probably saved us from a potential bomb-planter.

    Fricker sprayed paint when he could have smashed windows, seats, engines or tracks.

    Let's have a sense of proportion! Is caning punishment proportionate to the damage inflicted when offset against the unintended benefit of identified chinks?

    Jail and fine should be maximum but I reckon that caning is disproportionate.

    The Pariah,


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