In Singapore, the regime guards everything. In 2000, the government famously created what’s referred to as “Speaker’s Corner,” a spot in a public park where citizens are purportedly permitted to speak to the masses without government interference. Unregistered public meetings and demonstrations are illegal in this country. Even if the fact that Singapore’s government demarcated a few square feet for free expression excites you, Speaker’s Corner has been an abject disappointment. Visitors to the country aren’t welcome to share ideas there, citizens have to register online in advance for the privilege to speak and show an ID card before taking the stump, and Singaporean law states that speech mustn’t “be religious in nature and should not have the potential to cause feelings of enmity, ill will, or hostility between different racial or religious groups.”
Singaporeans are born into a country with phenomenal healthcare, globally competitive public education, and a rewarding workplace, but the quarantined press and neatly cordoned public square leave many citizens wanting more. “The caged bird sings with a fearful trill of things unknown but longed for still,” wrote Maya Angelou, who beautifully detailed the will of the aspirant who wants freedoms they’ve been denied.
While Singapore’s autocrats give their people a lot, citizens here can move their city-state even further along if they’re voices aren’t celled.