I took a very quick trip back to Singapore last week for Eid and as usual faced a number of frustrations with the general public at transit stops. Ever since I moved across the world and only started making short, 5-day trips home, transit stations, parks, and restaurants have become my main areas of contact with people other than my own family and friends. While I used to spend a large portion of my time aimlessly walking down Orchard Road window shopping or sipping bubble tea, I now try to spend as much time as possible with my mum on the couch watching Masterchef Australia (or whatever other cooking show she's into at the moment).
Unfortunately, on my last day back in Singapore last week, I made a regrettable decision to commute all the way to Bugis to have lunch with a couple of friends. As usual, I encountered the uncourteous crowd on the mass rapid transit platforms and was left feeling embarrassed for the hoards of locals who failed to observe simple etiquette such as waiting for disembarking commuters before pushing their way through the train doors.
This incident (not the first, or the twentieth time I've been witness to, by the way) left me feeling a little distant from the city I used to call home. After lunch, I dragged Lukman to Little India - the site of my thesis research. I'd seen a cool looking public space design intervention by the Urban Redevelopment Authority on the news the night before and thought I'd go check it out. Honestly, I was feeling excited that the authorities were paying attention to the area that was the site to Singapore's first riot in four decades and seemingly making efforts to improve the public realm there. The visit, however, left me a little more worried than before. And honestly a little more frustrated at the authorities than the public.
Now, someone, anyone, tell me what's wrong with this image of the public space on Hindoo Road in Little India.
Sure, this former open field is now colorfully designed with "superlative trees" that provide shade and a raised green platform for resting - a much needed commodity for the construction workers who labor in the sweltering heat. But why is this public space now completely fenced up? My initial reaction consisted mostly of frustration and confusion because the people using the space looked like animals in a fucking cage. In no way is Ms Marthalia Budiman (the artist of the installation) at fault for the way the public space has been staged behind fucking fences but someone up there needs to realize these physical barriers are doing more harm than good.
I mean, really, am I the only one seeing this image?