Friday, March 26, 2010

I saw Chee Soon Juan


I saw the Singapore Democratic Party leader Chee Soon Juan selling his party newspaper at a hawker centre.

I was having coffee when two men and a woman appeared, all in red polo shirts, carrying armloads of newspapers. The slender, youthful-looking bespectacled man in the centre was Dr Chee. He did not give out his name. I could recognize him from the photos I had seen in newspapers and on the internet.

He did not make any speeches or criticize the government, merely saying he knew people had problems with wages being cut and held up a copy of his newspaper, asking if anyone would like to buy.

He was studiously ignored by the people, who went on eating and drinking, though several fell silent while others lowered their voices.

An elderly couple passing by stopped and the old man bought a newspaper from him. "Thank you," he said.

The woman with him approached me with a copy of the newspaper. "No, thanks," I said and got up, having finished my coffee.

A little later, as I was passing by the hawker centre, he was gone.

The people went on eating and drinking under burning lights amid the surrounding darkness.

I enjoyed walking in the dark past the silvery haloes of light of street lamps.

The night air was soothing in its tranquillity.

I love Singapore, the peace and quiet it offers if that is what we want.

I know. Like the trees spreading their branches but solidly rooted to the earth, I can't be budged from my comfort zone.

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