Vandalism with a twist of politics

SINGAPORE - Vulgarities directed at the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) were spray-painted in red on the service level at the top of a Housing Board block in Toa Payoh yesterday.

Photos of the graffiti posted online went viral. Observers pointed out that this was the first time in many years that political comment in Singapore had degenerated to the level of vulgarities and vandalism.

Police said they first received a call at 6.47am yesterday, reporting the graffiti at the 22-storey Block 85A in Lorong 4.

A crowd soon gathered to take pictures.

A store owner, Mr Khoo, disapproved of the act as well as the message. "It is such a dangerous thing to do because the ledge is so small and it is so high up; if he (the vandal) falls, then that is it for him."

The graffiti was removed by workers by 11.30am.

A resident on the 22nd floor said that, at around midnight, she heard knocking sounds, like "someone taking a hammer and knocking on the wall".

Another resident added that last month graffiti had been sprayed near the top of an adjacent block.

A spokesman for Bishan-Toa Payoh Town Council said that a police report had been made and they are "cooperating closely with the police".

He added that the security processes (in place to control access to rooftops) remained intact. They will, however, be reviewing all the processes again and strengthening them where necessary.

Associate Professor Eugene Tan of the Singapore Management University feels that although this form of expression is a cause of concern, Singaporeans should not "overreact" or give the act undue importance.

"The vandal should understand that this is not a good way to air grievances as it does not resolve anything and it could get him into trouble, with fairly severe consequences," said Prof Tan.

He added: "It is also a foolish thing to do as he is risking his life."

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