BY THAM YUEN-C, Straits Times
SEVERAL hundred people gathered at Singapore’s Hong Lim Park last night in a show of support for demonstrators in Hong Kong protesting against election restrictions.
Their candlelight vigil started at 7.30pm, with the crowd spontaneously singing Under A Vast Sky, a Cantonese song by Hong Kong rock band Beyond that has become the protest’s unofficial anthem.
Event organisers Jolovan Wham, 34, and Rachel Zeng, 31, said they wanted to stand in solidarity with the Hong Kong people who have taken to the streets to push for universal suffrage.
The demonstrations there are against China’s decision to screen candidates running in the Special Administrative Region’s elections in future.
“We are against the diminishing of freedom,” Ms Zeng, an early childhood educator, told the crowd of Singaporeans, Hong Kongers and other foreigners.
Many in the gathering wore black with yellow ribbons pinned on their garb, both symbols of the Hong Kong protest.
They filled the warm night air with songs extolling freedom, and also wrote messages of support in Chinese and English on paper provided by the organisers.
While “don’t give up” and “you are not alone” were the typical words of encouragement, some denounced the action of the Hong Kong police, with one calling for “anti-violence”.
On Sunday, the police had used tear gas and pepper spray on protesters in the business district.
Singaporean Audrey Lim said the police actions drove her to attend the Hong Lim Park event.
“Protesting is the only way to fight for society,” said the executive at a transport company.
Secondary 3 student Glenc Soh, 15, also a Singaporean, said he had been tracking the news on Facebook.
“It’s very unfair that China wants to control Hong Kong in such a way,” he said.
Similarly, full-time national serviceman Howard Chim, 20, who lived in Hong Kong for 17 years, said: “I feel I should stand up and speak for them. If I were in Hong Kong, I’d have joined my friends in the protests in Admiralty (in the city’s business district).”
Hong Konger Howard Fok, a 16-year-old studying in a private school here, said: “My grandfather escaped from the mainland to Hong Kong and I’ve heard stories from him about how bad the communist system was. I don’t want this system in Hong Kong.”