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Singapore, will you still love me tomorrow? (November 2019)

"Today, I hung a tape recorder from my neck and took a walk from the Istana to the Supreme Court, crossed the road to Parliament House and walked back again to the Istana. At each stop, I stood outside and played the song ‘Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow’ by The Shirelles from my tape recorder while waving the Singapore flag.


The route I walked connects the three s e p a r a t e branches of government in Singapore: The Executive (the Istana – the Prime Minister's Office is housed in Sri Temasek), the Judiciary (the Supreme Court) and the Legislative (Parliament House); and just for good measure, I walked back to the Istana, which also happens to be the official residence of the President of Singapore (Singapore’s Head of State), connecting all three.


I’ve used the song ‘Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow’ in a couple of performances. In the UK, the song questions my position within Western/European/British society as an immigrant. However, in Singapore it's a little different. I wanted to use the song to say goodbye before I left for London; and as I walked between the different sites, I thought about my place in Singapore.


A few days ago, the Singapore police raided the home of Terry Xu, editor-in-chief of news site The Online Citizen. All his electronic equipment was seized, including laptops and hard drives. He was also detained and questioned by the police for more than 8 hours.


Also this week, local website The Independent were threatened with legal action after refusing to remove an article about NTUC Foodfare, a government agency.


Last week, artist duo ZZ launched a project on Facebook where they created traditional Chinese funeral mourning pins in the style of the Singapore Armed Forces’s pixelated green uniforms in response to the 7 deaths in the army over the past 14 months. 23 hours later, they were contacted by the authorities and asked to remove their post. 


These examples are only from the two weeks since I have been back in Singapore.


Outside the Istana, I was stopped by the police who told me that I was not allowed to film because it was a restricted zone despite the fact that I was standing outside in a public area for less than 5 minutes. They asked for my ID and took down my details.


Tonight I leave Singapore and I don’t know when I’ll next return. But I’ll be leaving with one question on my mind: Singapore, will you still love me tomorrow? Will you still love the Terry Xu's and the ZZ's? Will you still love the Jolovan Wham's and the Seelan Palay's and the Josef Ng's? Will you still love the Chee Soon Juan's and the Teo Soh Lung’s and the Chia Thye Poh’s? Will you still love the Thum Ping Tjin’s and the Kirsten Han’s and the Roy Ngerng’s?


I was born in Singapore, I was educated in Singapore, my family and friends are in Singapore. I've spent the majority of my life here, more time in Singapore than out of it. I served my two years of National Service as an Officer of the Singapore Armed Forces where you called me a Singaporean son and told me to "dedicate my life to Singapore". I hold a bright red passport, I am Singaporean, I love Singapore. But I don’t want to play by your rules. So tell me now and I won’t ask again, will you still love me tomorrow?"


– From a post on my Facebook page dated 23 November 2019

Documentation by Nicholas Tee.

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