CHEE SOON JUAN: OUR STATE OF SOCIETY IS HEARTBREAKING BUT YOUTHS CAN BRING ABOUT CHANGE

I just attended a play called Fear of Writing by Tan Tarn How and performed by communications students from NTU.

First performed by Theaterworks a few years ago, the play explores state- and self-censorship in Singapore, an issue that continues to plague this nation.

It projects the subject through the lives of several characters including a playwright, an office worker, a student, and a newsreader. On several occasions, it mentions me eg. the playwright wanting to write a piece about me but ultimately withdrawing from it, the office worker hesitatingly buying my book, and so on.

Even though I’ve fought against it all my adult life (or maybe because of it), I still found it strange, surreal even, to watch how others saw the pervasiveness of censorship in Singapore. It is heartbreaking to see the state smothering life out of society especially our youth and, more frighteningly, how unrepentingly drunk with power the ruling clique is.

But a little ray of hope shines through. By doing the play, these students bring me encouragement that our youth still care about matters of the head and heart, matters like justice and democracy and freedom from fear. They may be a minority but no matter: all change starts with the few, it always has and always will.

We press on.

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