Getting the Chills: Activism & the Politics of Fear in Singapore

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‘What is the worst that could happen? They’re not gonna jail me!’

Not so long ago, in 2012, I naïvely and stubbornly insisted to my anxious parents that getting involved in civil society activism in Singapore was no longer a frightening prospect. ‘We’re not breaking any laws,’ I insisted. Drafting statements, conducting research, advocating policy change, writing letters to the newspapers, blogging—that’s hardly radical.

‘You’re a mother now,’ they pleaded. ‘Think of your child.’

That statement grated, at the time—it seemed like unwarranted overreaction. Plus, I was thinking of my child, and the kind of country I wanted him to grow up in.

Four years later, I’m not writing this from a jail cell, bankrupt and bereft, but the prospect is no longer as ludicrous as I’d thought it would be. Continue reading