News spreads so quickly on social media these days it’s scary.
By now you would have probably heard about the story which broke on CNA last night involving a 25 year old woman who had been arrested by police as she was believed to have had painted the words “My Grandfather Road” on several roads in Singapore.
She also turns out to be the same lady who had been pasting circular stickers with witty captions on pavements and road traffic signs.
Before too long, Facebook and Twitter were abuzz with support for this lady.
Apparently she has a Tumblr blog (here), which I thought was pretty neat.
There is no doubt that she is one creative and daring artist.
“Banksy” might be the first thing that comes to mind, and I can easily see why.
Singapore definitely needs more creative people who are willing to take (clever) risks.
This morning an online petition had emerged encouraging people to sign in support of this Sticker Lady’s release.
I might get flamed for voicing my opinion (cos that’s the way it usually works nowadays), as I understand that this time round I may not necessarily take the same view as most of the commenters online.
But I’ll say it anyway.
Almost everyone on Twitter and Facebook is outraged by Sticker Lady’s arrest, plus the fact that she might be “punished with a fine of up to S$2,000, or jail up to three years and caning.”
People are saying that the arrest is wrong, that this is not vandalism, that it did not harm anybody in any way, that the government has no sense of humour, that creativity is frowned upon in Singapore, that we really need to lighten up, that this is public art by a highly creative individual, that she should be lauded for what she has done, and so on.
Honestly, I think that slapping a fine of S$2,000 with the threat of up to three years jail is a bit much lah.
I’m very sure her intentions were not at all destructive, so I’m fairly confident that she will not be given such a heavy punishment.
I’m not exactly sure what the difference between outright “vandalism” and “miscellaneous offences” is, but let’s just hope that she gets off lightly from this incident.
I would be outraged if she is put in jail, or even given a hefty fine.
However, I’m rather disturbed by the fact that almost everyone seems to gloss over the fact that she had indeed painted the words “My Grandfather Road” on public roads.
Be it vandalism or a miscellaneous offence, surely this has to count for something right?
People seem to think that because this is the work of an artist, it was okay to paint on the roads.
If you’re saying that painting on public property can be condoned under the pretext of art, then how far are we willing to go with this?
Where do you draw the line between what is and isn’t art?
If the three words “My Grandfather Road” can be considered art (and I’m not trying to go into the relative artistic merits of her choice of text here), then what isn’t considered art…”My Grandmother Rambutan Tree”?
If Sticker Lady were to paint “My Grandfather Road” at the entrance of your driveway or on the walls of your home, would you still be cool about it?
Or is it okay only if it’s done on public property?
If a foreigner were to have been the one who had painted the exact same words in the exact same manner, would the support still have been as strong?
My take is that while the stickers were kinda cool, the painting on the roads was taking things too far.
That being said, one also has to recognise that stickers tend to be hard to remove and tend to leave a stain after awhile, so pasting them indiscriminately on public property isn’t entirely pleasant either, in my opinion.
You may think the stickers are beautiful, others may think they’re not.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m as keen on the arts as the next guy, and I’d love to see the day when Singaporeans can express themselves freely in whatever artistic manner they are so inclined towards.
Yes, at the moment it still doesn’t seem like our society has been able to lighten up or acquire a sense of humour or fully embrace the arts yet.
But in your haste to crown Sticker Lady as the next “Banksy” or “Tank Man”, do remember that there are laws that still have to be followed, and with good reason.