Published by Seelan Palay on Wednesday, March 18, 2009
3 activists including filmmaker Ho Choon Hiong, lawyer Chia Ti Lik and myself gathered at the Singapore Botanical Gardens this morning to protest against an “Orchid Naming Ceremony” hosted for the Burmese junta leader Thein Sein.
As Singaporeans we want to register our disapproval over the naming of Singapore’s national flower, the Orchid, after a leader of the despotic military junta of Burma.
We made our way through the park in red t-shirts, intending to hand a bouquet of 8 Orchid stalks (symbolizing the ’88 revolution) with a greeting card to the General, to request that he help deliver them to pro-democracy leader Miss Aung San Suu Kyi.
When we arrived at the location of the ceremony at 8.15 am however, we were approached by a group of National Parks staff who informed us that the event was over in 5 minutes and that the General had since left.
Plainclothes police officers who had also been present at previous similar events were spotted at various points in the park long after the General’s departure. I noticed one particular officer who was pretending to take photographs of flowers and told him, “Hey, you damn obvious lah!”. He took a nervous glance at me and then looked in another direction.
A decision was then made to walk to the Burmese Embassy on St. Martin’s Drive to request them to hand the bouquet and card over to Aung San Suu Kyi. After a brief inquiry, the security guard on duty shouted at us from a distance that they refuse to accept the gifts.
Standing outside the locked gates the embassy, I went ahead and read out the contents of the card:
Today marks an unimportant occasion whereby an Orchid will be named in Singapore after Thein Sein, a general of the Burmese junta.
We feel that it is more befitting to be named after you.
This bouquet of 8 Orchid stalks is to honour you and your countrymen who have sacrificed so much for freedom and democracy in Burma.
Singaporeans for Burmese democracy”
We left after placing the bouquet and card at the doorstep of the embassy, hoping that one day, an Orchid flower will be honoured in the name of Miss Aung San Suu Kyi, the rightful leader of Burma.
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