Two years ago, when the MRT cabins were spray painted, I wrote an article to TODAY expressing the need for spaces to be set aside in which creative people can express their artistic desires in an orderly manner (http://yeejj.wordpress.com/2011/03/27/today-voices-jul-6-2010-why-not-liven-up-mrt-cabins-legally/).
The recent arrest of the 25 year old lady, dubbed The Sticker Lady by netizens has sparked calls again on how we can better manage the desire for creative expressions in our society. I do not agree that one can express themselves as they wish on public property. However, we need to create enough spaces for people to express themselves. If we have such spaces and processes clearly spelt out, then those who defy the rules will have few excuses for what they do. Right now, our enviroment is too drab and sterile. Hence many people are openly supporting The Sticker Lady because they identify with the lighthearted nature she had gone about looking at our way of life. I certainly hope the authorities can apply a lighter touch to her case.
Moving forward, I feel the authorities can be more daring to allow designated public spaces to be set aside for public expressions of creativity. I suggest that postboxes, MRT cabins and selected void decks and street corners can be set aside for proper application by aspiring artists with design proposals to work on, subject to approval. Places like Youth Park where youths gather regularly will also be an ideal location for this. If done in a proper manner, we can have a more creative and colourful Singapore without compromising the respect for law and order.
After my posting, my parliamentary colleague, Mr Hri Kumar commented on my proposal to have an approval committee look at applications to use designated public spaces for art.
My response to that in my FB page is as follow: … I suggested having a committee to look at proposals by artists to use designated spaces is because I think Singapore is not yet at a stage where we can accept random art, as well as to screen for objectionable language or attacks against race/religion. I would have suggested letting it free for all in designated spaces but I think society needs time to progress to that stage. So a compromise is to have a review process and some space for creative expressions. It is a bit like us having Speakers Corner at Hong Lim Park. It is not a free-for-all. There are some rules and an application to be made in advance. Why can’t Hong Lim Park be like Hyde Park in London? Is Singapore ready for that?
Another additional thought that came to me is to have organisations like Singapore Post or our train operators commission The Sticker Lady to put up ‘approved’ stickers at PostBoxes and inside train cabins. It would certainly add spice to our lives and give us something to think about while we are commuting in our crowded trains. If crafted carefully, the messages might even be effective in our campaigns such as being courteous, promoting neighbourliness, speak good English, etc.