Is what was done acceptable because it was creative or considered “art”? That gives rise to real difficulties as one man’s art is another’s poison – Hri Kumar ( SKLo saga)

It has been interesting to read the many pieces on the net about the arrest of the Sticker Lady, both for and against her and what she did.

  • People should be free to debate issues which affect them, and persuade others, through logic and reasonable arguments, to support their cause. That is a sign of a healthy society. 

But is not clear what the particular movement – to excuse the Sticker Lady from punishment – is saying.

  • There is no doubt that what was done was criminal – an act of vandalism or nuisance.
  • Is the object then to repeal the law altogether?
  • That would make it legal for anyone to draw on or otherwise decorate public property?

I don’t think that is what the vast majority wants.

Is what was done acceptable because it was creative or considered “art”?

That gives rise to real difficulties as one man’s art is another’s poison.

  • So what do we expect the police to do?
  • Should they be art critics as well, and decide what is acceptable?
  • I don’t think many would favour that.
  • Or perhaps that should be for the judge?
  •  Would that not mean that the same work may be considered criminal by one judge and not by another?

I rather more certainty, and less arbitrariness, in our criminal laws.

  • The judge can always take into account the context, reasons behind and extent of the “art” in mitigation and sentencing.
  • And sentencing does not have to mean jail.

Others have offered solutions,

  • such as setting aside public space for those who want to exhibit their works.

That sounds fair,

  • although it would not have worked for the Sticker Lady’s “art”, which requires a context an exhibition area would not have.
  • “My Grandfather Space” does not quite have the same ring.

Still, we have to grapple with what constitutes acceptable art.

I stumbled upon a statement in my Parliamentary colleague, Yee Jenn Jong’s blog. He said: “My suggestion is for the spaces that we set aside, set some simple rules like no profanity, no attack on race / religion, and then let whoever is in the approval committee decide with a liberal view when proposals come in.” “Proposals”, “Approval Committee”?

So, we need more committees to decide and approve such matters? Interesting.

   Hri Kumar


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2 comments on “Is what was done acceptable because it was creative or considered “art”? That gives rise to real difficulties as one man’s art is another’s poison – Hri Kumar ( SKLo saga)

  1. billchua says:

    We need to differentiate between good and bad intention. Aren’t we behaving like typical Sporeans who as a people are extremely technical and legalistic? Laws are to be completely complied with. We have very little room left for compassion. Do we have a soul? Sure we can argue that she did wrong in the eyes of the law. And that is all we see. Justice is blind. And we always justify ourselves by fighting against setting precedence. We encounter this ever so often with civil service eg if I help you then how about others?
    Fellow Sporeans, while we want the rule of law let us be filled with compassion. Could we let our hair down a little more often?

  2. another view :

    Why I will not sign the petition to save the Sticker Lady

    I am not going to sign the petition to move the charge againts Skl0 from Vandalism to Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance), because it would go against the spirit of what a good legal system ought to be.

    In a good legal system, laws are decided by the people, and then applied without exception, fear, or favour to everyone. This is why it is very important to have good people in Parliament, because they are the ones who decide on the wording of the laws, and therefore the scope of each individual law, and what offences should and should not be punished.

    I believe this episode simply illustrates the inadequacy of our current laws in supporting a culture of innovation and self-awareness. I agree with most of the comments about how Skl0 is a good and thought-provoking artist. Unfortunately, our laws as they exist today do not support such artists. Such artists are punished together with all the other miscreants that Skl0′s supporters believe should be punished.

    If you want to petition, please petition your local MP to go to Parliament and change the law, so that Skl0 and others like her will not be punished in future.

    But because the law is the way it is currently, she has to face the S$2,000 fine (no caning for her because of her gender, something which the law also currently provides her protection for).
    So by all means offer Skl0 a job and give her money to pay off her fine. Just please don’t screw around with our system of law-making and law-administering, because once you do that, you give license to those who would override the laws for their own selfish ends.

    Just adding a follow up comment here from the other discussion thread.
    This is in response to someone who thought I meant that the law is not worded properly.
    I am not suggesting that the law isn’t well worded. I am saying that the law is worded specifically to include acts such as Skl0′s under the definition of behaviour that deserves to be punished.

    The law is worded this way because when that law was written, the damage to the public was perceived to be greater than the benefit such acts bring. If things have changed since that time, then we need to change the law, and the way to do it is to get your MP to bring it up in Parliament so the people whose job it is to make and amend the laws actually do what they’re paid to do.

    You might not agree, but some people believe that what Skl0 did was wrong, law or no law. You have to respect their views as much as you want them to respect yours. And you have to settle your differences through well-reasoned debate in Parliament (by proxy through your MP), not take your grievances before the Emperor and ask him to rule in your favour.

    And that’s because we are not ruled by an Emperor.

    We are a democracy, and the more people realise what that means and how it works, the better a chance we have of making Singapore the place we want it to be.
    by Benjamin Kong

    re post by

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