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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Why Singapore needs to Arrest those who Stare at Others

Suppose I am on the MRT and I see an Ah Beng covered in tattoos, which even cover his face. He also has gang tattoos on his face.

I look at his tattoos because I am trying to make out what they are.

He thinks that I am staring at him and beats me up.

I am, of course, to blame for offending him by staring at him. I have caused the assault in which he beats me up by staring at him.

Recall Singapore's long history of secret societies during which there were lots of riots and gang fights resulting in many deaths.

In 1957, the Colonial Office reported that there were 150 gang fights. Yet, the problem of gangs goes back even further than that.

In the early 1840s, the town of Singapore lived in fear from Chinese secret societies which raided the town almost every night. In 1854 there were the Hokkien-Teochew Riots which lasted 10 days and where about 500 people died - these were the worst and most prolonged riots in Singapore's history. This was one of the darkest periods in Singapore’s history. Gang violence has left deep marks in Singapore's history and it is a period in time which we never want to repeat.

Even today, the problem of gangs has not entirely disappeared and we read about gang fights every now and then. In 2010 at Downtown East in Pasir Ris, there was a gang fight (resulting from an allegation of staring) that resulted in one death. In the same year, there was another death from a gang fight outside Orchard Plaza. In 2013 there was a riot in Pasir Ris over a staring incident.

It is important for us to remember the tragic consequences of staring at others.

It is clear that staring at others is a clear and present threat to Singapore's national fabric, and that we should be conscious of the damage that we can do by provoking people by staring at them (who might be gang members, in which case the resulting violence could spiral out of control). Social peace and harmony should never be taken for granted.

When you stare at someone, you are not showing him respect. Respect will always be a potential fault line in Singapore's society.

We must learn lessons from Singapore's history and enact laws that make it illegal to stare at people (or at people with tattoos), and teach children in school that they shouldn't stare at people because staring is a very sensitive action and people could get offended (and be moved to violence, which could tear the country apart, especially if the person they happen to stare at happens to be a gang member).

Indeed, we should arrest people who stare at others - because they risk provoking gang riots which could tear the country apart.
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