Road Blocks

Various parties had come together for a massive street demonstration last weekend. As it was an unapproved gathering, the police had to be called in. As a result, road blocks were erected and much of the city put under a watchful eye. When the demonstrations actually began, shops shuttered and the riot police got to exercise their toys.

A lot of fellow citizens are not happy that such demonstrations cause so much grief to random by-standers. Even my parents say that this culture of street demonstrations does not help anyone. While I can understand why some people feel the way that they do, I do not agree with them. Demonstrations are a necessary ‘evil’ in any democracy. It’s the ultimate form of getting your voice heard.

However, I do think that a lot of things can be done to make it less disruptive in general.

The issue of road-blocks. The present system of road-blocks is designed to stop protesters from getting into the city. Therefore, it actually slows down the traffic and causes massive back-logs for kilometres on end. A better way to do it is to actually divert traffic. Instead of blocking people, the vehicles should just be diverted around the city centre.

In fact, the cops should probably treat these things as a form of ‘procession’ like the kind we regularly get during religious celebrations. These already show that our cops and the city can easily handle thousands of people walking through many kilometres of road. It is most definitely doable. The only issue is that the objective should be to facilitate, rather than block.

You see, people need to vent. Street demonstrations are a way to vent. However, if they are organised properly, it can be a win-win situation for everyone involved. The protesters get to vent their feelings, the police get to do their jobs, the city does not get crippled and everyone is happy. However, this will require a fundamental change in mind-set of our present government.

I would suggest that in the future, when someone wants to organise a street demonstration, that the government actually facilitate it. Mark out the actual streets that they need to walk through and route out the path. At least, in this way, we can minimise the casualties.

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Published by

Shawn Tan

Chip Doctor, Chartered Engineer, Entrepreneur, Law Graduate.

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