My grandfather road vandalised

From ‘My grandfather road vandal arrested’, 4 June 2012, article in asiaone.com

Police have arrested a 25-year-old woman who is believed to have vandalised several roads in Singapore. Between May 17 to 21 this year, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) saw that the words “MY GRANDFATHER ROAD” were painted along Robinson Road and Maxwell Road and reported the matter to the Police.

It also reported that circular stickers printed with captions were pasted on a pavement around Lau Pa Sat and on a road traffic sign along Robinson Road. The female suspect was arrested at her residence in the eastern part of Singapore on June 3. The officers also found several paint-stained stencils and several pieces of stickers printed with captions. These items were seized for investigation.

Investigation is ongoing. The police are also working with LTA on earlier reports of round stickers found affixed on other pedestrian crossings at various places.

The case is classified as Vandalism under Section 3 of the Vandalism Act, Chapter 341. A person who is convicted for the offence shall be punished with a fine not exceeding $2,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding to 3 years and shall be liable to caning subjected to the Criminal Procedure Code 2010.

Sins of the Grandfather

Spray painting a road may land you 3 YEARS in jail and a severe beating, but knocking over someone while drunk driving and splattering someone’s BLOOD all over the road gives you a miserable SIX months sentence, or a fine between $1000 and $5000. So, the police have spent the past month tracking down someone placing stickers on pedestrian crossing buttons, while elsewhere cyclists and joggers are being mowed down by maniac drivers.  Instead of monitoring speedsters, they’re keeping their eyes peeled for sticker vandals, who do nothing more than kill pedestrians’ time, not kill THEM unlike some nuisance drivers we know.

The colloquialism ‘My grandfather’s road’ has been used since the eighties, often used to describe motorists taking their own sweet time on the roads, or road-hoggers. In this case, the phrase could also double up as a visual protest against people who think they ‘own the road’ so they could streak about in the early wee hours in their Ferraris. Just a couple of days back, the ST ran a piece on these mystery ‘Press until Shiok’ stickers, that these  antics were ‘to the amusement’ of Singaporeans, with some speculating that it could be a smart ‘guerilla marketing’ campaign. One interviewee remarked that this shows ‘the vibrant culture of Singapore and a let-your-hair-down attitude’. More like ‘let-your-pants-down for a whipping’ attitude. It almost sounded light hearted and did not end in the typically admonishing ‘Anyone with information on the culprit are to report to the police immediately’.  Next thing you know, the one putting a smile on people’s faces with catchy slogans and making Singapore ‘hip’ again is being hauled to court for vandalising public property. Well thanks a lot, Straits Jinx. Don’t ever attempt to act cool again.

The ‘grandfather road’ vandal brings to mind the ‘white elephant’ incident at Buangkok MRT, where cut outs were put up to mock the two-year delay in the opening of Buangkok MRT station. It remains unknown as to who was ultimately responsible for this ‘outdoor protest’, though it was reported that a ‘veteran grassroots leader’ was behind it and his identity remains protected till this day.  The blatant symbolism seemed to prick the conscience of the authorities that they forgot about the elephant displays being vandalism at all. Instead the police had to investigate if there had been any breach of the ‘Public Entertainments and Meetings Act’. Which means if you’re sticking it to the authorities though a piece of art, you’re ‘protesting’ without a permit. If you’re just trying to be funny with some stencils and stickers, you’re a menace to society.

A couple of years back, the Speak Good English campaign embarked on their own spate of state endorsed ‘vandalism’, putting ugly sticky notes on lampposts and hawker centre tables to instruct people on on speaking properly. So if it’s for a ‘good cause’ and you have a permit, marring the urban landscape is OK, but not if you’re a street artist inspired by the ‘functional’ landscape graffiti of Banksy. With an actual sense of humour. You can’t even walk around with a piece of chalk these days without a cop telling you to stay away from roads and buildings, as if you were in possession of a stick of dynamite instead.

Postcript: Fast turning out to be a anti-establishment cult heroine, ‘Sticker Lady’ is actually Samantha Lo, artist and founder of online magazine RCGNTN. Her Pinterest is still available for viewing, where she appears to have a special interest in typography. Also see the rest of her ‘Press’ series (Tumblr disabled), including ‘Anyhow Press Police Catch’, ‘Press for Nirvana’ and ‘Everything Also Press’. OK I made the last one up.

Then there’s the question of whether My Grandfather Road is considered ‘art’ at all. According to a ST Forum writer and SOTA student Darshini Ramiah (Suspect art has no value, 9 June 2012, ST Forum):

While the works are humorous, parodying Singaporean culture and Singlish, they seem to have no value whatsoever. Furthermore, the removal of the ‘art’ from public property involved spending money, time and effort.

While the suspect’s intentions may have been light-hearted, she appears to have had no consideration for the impact that her work may have caused. Art should serve to enhance and better a community. But the suspect’s work seems to be nothing more than a tongue-in-cheek attempt to garner public attention.

The writer fails to mention what is considered ‘proper’ art and how this makes a community ‘better’, using vague words like ‘value’ and ‘enhance’ without explaining why art MATTERS. Value, like art, is subjective and in order to argue if what Sticker Lady did has any ‘value’ in the very mundane sense of dollars and cents, consider if anyone will purchase any of her sticker creations after her conviction (It would probably sell like Hello Kitty plush toys). In terms of more abstract ‘value’, her ‘tongue-in-cheek’ humour may have made someone’s day, or made people conscious of their furious but useless pedestrian button pressing, i.e altered someone’s behavior, at least temporarily.  In contrast, an almost blank piece of canvas may be clamoured to death as a timeless masterpiece, but if it leaves a viewer nonchalant and deemed as mere wall filler, how does it ‘enhance’ the community, despite being extremely ‘valuable’? Does ‘Brother Cane’ and its pubic hair snipping have any ‘value’? When Josef Ng broke the law (for public indecency) staging the act, like how Samantha Lo committed an offence (defacing public property), does it mean that the original Brother Cane wasn’t art?

Sticker Lady was eventually charged with mischief in late March 2013, in which the maximum penalty is one year’s jail and a fine. It was revealed that one of Lo’s creations was labelled ‘So Kancheong For What’. Though it was placed near a pedestrian crossing, I wonder if she was really referring to the government asking us to have more babies.

Advertisements

39 Responses

  1. If you would like to join the petition, there’s one going on here http://www.change.org/petitions/mica-review-sentence-of-skl0-arts-censorship-in-sg.

    Cheers!

  2. Do you even realise what you are asking for?
    Do you wish to live in a world ala Big Brother 1984 as this creep towards greater government intervention will result.

    Road accidents are accidents unless there is deliberate intent.
    Drivers who cause death should be banned but to blame them without any forethought and throwaway lines reflects the persona of the person.

  3. Think out of the box, but not too out of the box.

    Try to be creative, but not too out of the mainstream.

    Be rebellious, but play by the rules.

    You may protest, but only with a permit and a specified area or the ‘light touch’ might come down on you.

  4. You forgot that drinking and driving without a license, then killing a 70-year old pedestrian who was just minding his own business, will only net you 4 months in jail:

    http://sph.straitstimes.com/BreakingNews/Singapore/Story/STIStory_782951.html

  5. Singapore Traffic Rules is crap. nonsensical.

  6. So the youth of Singapore is seemingly up in arms because a 25 year old female Banksy copycat gets caught…yet didn’t seem to give much of a toss when a Swiss grafiti artist got rumbled for pretty much the same thing. Hmmmmmm.

    • The Swiss “artist” broke into a protected place with fencing and defaced property. The lady did her act on a public area accessible to all .. so are they equivalent? i don’t think so ..

  7. […] DKSG: No more My Grandfather Road – Everything Also Complain: My grandfather road vandalised – funny little world: #FreeStickerLady! – Blaxell In Words: Singapore artist faces caning – Andrew […]

  8. The Swiss grafiti artist broke into a protected place and compromised the security of the MRT. That’s why he didn’t get so much sympathy.

  9. If the driver were a higher mortal like a minister, what will he get?
    If you drive and hit a dog, how?
    Back to the sticker girl – there was a son of a judge given a slap on the wrist for some drug offence -they are going to throw the book at her because the transport minister have no sense of humour and her parents are nonentities?

  10. Whether he broke into a protected place is irrelevant, surely? He didn’t steal anything, he didn’t cause any other damage. All he did was paint a train using street art. Which is exactly what this lady has done – albeit on the road/lamp-posts. I think there’s only one reason why she’s getting all the sympathy here, and, given the obvious double-standards, it’s got very little to do with art/freedom of expression and everything to do with nationality.

  11. When I first saw this I actually thought LTA Singapore had a great creative idea that got people to use the pedestrian traffic lights, promoted local culture, and even gave itself a nice fun image.

    But I found out today that these compliments go to someone else, a girl whom LTA is upset with. They could have easily turned this to their benefit but no. I knew this creativity was too good to be true.

  12. without prejudice…I somewhat may believe this person maybe belongs to the 3rd generation whose family at one time owned the land where she painted on the road, “My Grandfather Road” and also the sticker that say, “Press To Time Travel” going back in time as to who the said property belong to. It gives me a sense that this was my property or properties before and I can do whatever I like. But with the development in the financial district during the early years, maybe the painted road is a freehold or 999 property or properties that was “acquired” by the relevant development authority then and was paid pittance as compared to what it is today if one were to develop or leased to a developer.
    Whatever it maybe, I think this has nothing to do with creativity or art but I may believe she is make a statement here to the property or properties that maybe “acquired” when she was a little girl or unless one has nothing better to do, which I doubt. Whatever it is, I wished her well.
    As mentioned, in the early years of rapid Singapore development I heard of cases in the east area there were freehold properties that was acquired in the name of development by the Singapore authorities.
    On the contrary, if the “big guns” from the corporate law firms who specialized in commercial property reading this comment, please help or comment with on these questions.
    1. If she is a beneficiary (or if one is a beneficiary to any freehold or 999 property or properties then), whether such an “acquisition” can be challenged in the court of law here that she had suffered financial disadvantage, being a beneficiary to said “acquired” property or properties when she was little or just an infant then?
    2. And can she seek redress lawfully here and will she be compensated for financial damage based on today’s property market rate from the authority on the “acquired” the property or properties?
    If such an “acquisition” here in Singapore can be challenged in the court of law successfully, I believe there would be many such cases which the law firm can represent for families who suffered similar situation.

  13. Of course breaking into a protected place is highly relevant. You would be investigated for links with terrorists if you had done that in the US.

  14. At a certain level I suppose you are right, but I think it’s more about the message behind the graffiti. As nice as Oliver Fricker’s work was, it was just a colourful paint job. It didn’t carry the appealing anti-authoritarian sentiments Sticker Lady’s work had. Why is it appealing? Because the locals are pissed with the way they feel they are treated in this country. And if let’s say Fricker did the same thing, would the sympathy be as big? I don’t think so, simply because it’s more moving when one of your own is holding up the middle finger and fighting the fight.

  15. That Swiss guy didn’t break into a high security intelligence department. It was an MRT station! Graffiti artists do that sort of thing every day in pretty much every major city in Europe, Yours Toothfully. How else do you think they manage to paint tube trains and the like (clue: they don’t do it whilst the trains are in motion!). What they did was exactly the same as what this girl has done. I don’t think she should be severly punished – in the samy way I didn’t think the Swiss guy should have been. But what’s very interesting (as a foreigner here) is to see the massive outpouring of horror today about the local girl – compared to the relative silence in the case of the Swiss guy. Let’s just see if she’s punished anything nearly as severly as the Swiss guy…

    • cutting fence is not called break in… wonderful!

      what is your house address ah?? indicate here.. let me cut your padlock and spray paint all over your house and see if you will cry foul? after all, ppl also do this sort of thing every day in pretty much every major city in Europe…

      • Oh dear, oh dear. I think you’ve missed the point there a bit, mate….

  16. Very interesting comment, cocopoco – much more to the point than other comments I’ve seen today – sums things up nicely. Everyone else has been commenting today about how this is ALL about freedom of creative expression – clearly it isn’t really about that at all. If it was, the nationality of the artist and the art itself (including any message) would be irrelevant. So, as a glib summary: local artist + anti-Government message = no punishment. Foreign artist = Changi and some caning for good measure!

    • Well, in alignment with the petition going around, I’m not asking for no punishment. Just a lighter one, a fine, no jail time. Despite the nationalistic sentiments, I think us laypeople recognise the absurdity of how first time doodling on public property can get you caned when drunk driving resulting in death can only put you a few months in jail, no matter who has done it. I think this blogger has highlighted this in the opening of the article. Also, Fricker got two extra months for breaking into non-public property. There was a clear marker between the spaces where he as a member of the public can move about and where he could not. Sticker Lady did hers in a space where its clearly hers (and ours). Even though breaking into buildings is part of what a street graffiti artist might do all the time, I have to disagree that this should be pardoned. So in short, local/foreign artist + street art, no matter the message = fine. Local/foreign artist + street art, no matter the message + break ins = fine and jail time. Too bad, Fricker’s case did not pull the same heartstrings. Thanks to Sticker Lady, maybe the next one would?

      • Sorry, but jail time and a caning for a graffiti artist who simply broke into an MRT station and tagged a train was properly mental! A fining – or, at worst, even revoking his employment pass and kicking him off the island – would have sufficed. As it would for this artist. Other than the weird fundamentalist Middle East states and North Korea, I can’t think of anywhere in the world where they’d treat someone this barbarically. Time to loosen up Singapore and join the real world….

  17. I am shocked that there is a loud support for someone who vandalised public property! Some even called what she did art and condemned the authorities for arresting her. This is in stark contrast with the condemnations that the two foreigners received for sprayed paint our MRT trains sometime back! For the train’s case, why didn’t people stand up for them and said that those were expressions of art as well and that the law should be lenient for them? And what about other vandal cases? And who can forget the publicity stunt that Singpost pulled by getting people to ‘vandalise’ their post boxes…wasn’t there a loud outcry against Singpost then? Why the double standards?

    I say the sticker vandal would have to be serve the full arm of the law. No two way about it. Yes, she may be artistic…but by the same standard, so were the MRT spray paint vandals. What made her action any different from the train vandals that she should be punished less? And there was not many who stood up for them as they did for her now. Why?

    Some of you make it sound like it is ok to spray paint and stick stickers on public property. She vandalised public property regardless of whether she is talented, female, Singaporean or not. This is the crux of the matter. Until someone can justify that what she did is not vandalism, I don’t see why she should be let off at all.

  18. I think it will be light years before authorities come to sense, Sam Lo, you have all the support from the Rockabilly/Psychobilly/Hillibilly fratenity in South East Asia….keep stencilin’….RK

  19. What is art? So if I stencil a hello kitty on the road, is that art? so stencil “my grandfather road” is considered art and therefore should be encouraged all over the roads in Singapore? And as long as the the words are neat and copied/stenciled means its not vandalism even if it onscures real traffic markings on the roads? She just have to hire a good lawyer to give her justification for drawing markings on the roads. Stop those childish petitions when the verdict is not even out yet and get a life. And please stop misleading the public with the MAXIMUM penalty in the petition which is unlikely to be meted out.

  20. It may be fun to bash the government or turn this into a foreign/local debate, but let’s be fair.

    First, the sentence referred to is the theoretical maximum for the offence. If this “artist” is convicted, she will not likely receive anything close to the maximum. It is unfair to refer to the maximum, compare it with the actual sentences for traffic cases, and then claim the law values property more than human lives.

    Second, what this “artist” did is an offence. The police is duty bound to investigate as they would any other offence. It is not for the police to decide what acceptable or unacceptable graffiti. That is highly subjective, and we should not expect the police to make such calls.

    Third, if the artist meant no harm and did not damage property, that will no doubt be taken into account by the AG in exercising its discretion whether to prosecute, and if they do so, that will be taken into account by the court in sentencing.

    The problem with knee jerk reactions like the earlier posts here is that they fail to see the bigger picture. If no action is taken, it will effectively be a licence for anyone to draw graffiti in public places. Then what happens? Do you take action against only those which are not “artistic”? Who decides what is acceptable “art”?”

  21. Vandalism is Vandalism. Cool vandalism or ugly vandalism, the law is clear. If you vandalize, you pay the price. So if you already know the consequences, don’t spray paint the floor, cause when you keep pressing the button till it pops, somebody’s gonna get hurt real bad. News reported and warned and she sprayed anyway. How retarded is that?

    People, please be realistic…she was asking for it when she spray painted. Now in society, its not about rules, respect the property of others or even respecting yourself. Its about feelings…I’m saying something please listen, I need to express, I need to have a bloody opinion.

    Get on with your lives. Let her go to jail so that she will be more famous. That’s what she wants, so let her have it.

  22. It may be fun to bash the government or turn this into a foreign/local debate, but let’s be fair.

    First, the sentence referred to is the theoretical maximum for the offence. If this “artist” is convicted, she will not likely receive anything close to the maximum. It is unfair to refer to the maximum, compare it with the actual sentences for traffic cases, and then claim the law values property more than human lives.

    Second, what this “artist” did is an offence. The police is duty bound to investigate as they would any other offence. It is not for the police to decide what acceptable or unacceptable graffiti. That is highly subjective, and we should not expect the police to make such calls.

    Third, if the artist meant no harm and did not damage property, that will no doubt be taken into account by the AG in exercising its discretion whether to prosecute, and if they do so, that will be taken into account by the court in sentencing.

    The problem with knee jerk reactions like the earlier posts here is that they fail to see the bigger picture. If no action is taken, it will effectively be a licence for anyone to draw graffiti in public places. Then what happens? Do you take action against only those which are not “artistic”? Who decides what is acceptable “art”?”

    • I agree with all your points. The comparison between an unconvicted graffiti artist and a convicted motorist/murderer is unfair and a bit silly. It’s also wrong to judge this lady differently because she’s local, she’s female, she’s a bit dainty and because her ‘art’ is deemed tasteful (personally I think it’s a pretty unoriginal and crap copy of Banksy’s stuff) and politically on point.

      What’s more relevant surely is whether it’s actually right at all for the courts here to have the ability in the first place to sentence someone to a prison term and to be caned (!) for doing this sort of petty offense – a fine and some community work is surely more than adequate and a decent enough deterrent. I can’t believe for a second that anyone even vaguely intelligent and under the age of 80 would think otherwise!!

      The world won’t come crashing down and the streets won’t be littered with drug addled hooligans, thieves and angry rioters because there’s a bit of naughty graffiti around the place you know. Lighten up Singapore!!!

    • I guess #givestickerladyafineonly does not sound as catchy as #freestickerlady. Because in general, it seems that her supporters are in agreement of the petition that is asking for only a fine to be imposed on those, who draw/paint/put up unlicensed posters on public property. No caning. No jailtime. It’s the best middle ground. The authorities get to carry out their punishment. The artist/vandal is forced to take responsibility for what he/she has done. Throw in a bit of CWO for good measure. And, the police does not have to call in experts to carry out aesthetic analysis to decide who to punish.

      I agree that comparing this case to traffic cases is a bit unfair, but can you blame people arguing for her by referring to the maximum charge? What’s the use of a doing a petition only after her charge has been read out which might be more than what we think is necessary.

  23. I think fine will be too lenient. A short jail term should suffice. Looking at her recent interview, she is clearly basking in the fame and limelight and thinks her work is so “artistic” that she should be given a free reign to spray paint on other people’s property with no recourse. And can tell how childish her supporters are who compare vandalism vs driving accidents. Do you know driving accidents are mostly UNINTENTIONAL? Most drivers have no intention of killing another person and when it happens, they have lots of guilt and it could happen to any driver. In her case, she PLAN her course of action. I think motive is clear, FAME.

    I think perhaps a one week jail term for someone who clearly has motive should be enough deterrent. or else youngsters like her will use vandalism as the fastest track to instant fame.

    there are lots of respected artists who do not use this kind of method to get fame. And I’m not surprised, her works are hardly ingenious or original – need to use short cut.

  24. Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on the video to make your point.

    You definitely know what youre talking about,
    why throw away your intelligence on just posting videos to your site when you could be giving us something informative to read?

  25. […] , a solo vandal for desecrating the Cenotaph, and a woman ‘street artist’ responsible behind ‘My Grandfather Road’, all within days of their violation. The only explanation as to why our Police and Interpol […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: