Singaporeans Who Made A Difference By Asking Other People To Click A Button
With the onset of social media, anyone can initiate change on anything they care about on websites such as change.org.
The effects of the petitions hosted on the site have ranged from frivolous to far-reaching.
For example, change.org has helped Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai attain a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2013, which she won.
On the other side, here’s a petition calling for fire ants to be rechristened to “spicy bois”.
Singapore has had its share of the weird and the wacky too, but let’s zoom in on the nine times (meaningful) change was actuated through petitions on the site.
1. Dog circus
狗年行大运 (gǒu nián xíng dà yùn) is a phrase meant to wish others great fortune in the Year of the Dog.
However, there was an entertainment act that brought nothing but pain to its performers.
Touting themselves as “Chinese New Year Dog Circus 2018”, the troupe promised a “circus experience that includes breathtaking Kungfu diabolo, ring stunts, fun acrobatics, giant balloon acts, bubble show and funny clowns acts”.
Not pictured or described: the unspeakable abuse the animals were put through, in order to make them pliant and circus-capable.
This sad example of how animal exploitation continues to persist in the world was put to an end by approximately 7,089 supporters on change.org.
Thankfully, netizens’ voices were heard and SISTIC made the decision to cancel the show.
2. Old Chang Kee
You wouldn’t know from consuming their products, but Old Chang Kee’s curry puffs have undergone a change in cooking oil in recent years.
A group of students discovered that the popular snack chain used palm oil that could conceivably have come from unsustainable sources.
Deforestation to make way for palm oil plantations has negatively affected the lives of the indigenous forest dwellers. Fires spread to make aforementioned space comes back to Singapore in the form of haze.
3. Turtle museum
Did you know that The Live Turtle and Tortoise Museum also shuttered its doors for good?
Did you know that there was (and still is) a Live Turtle and Tortoise Museum?
If you don’t, that’s OK.
Connie Tan, the owner of the museum, took it upon herself to pen a heartfelt post on Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s Facebook page, even posting a picture of him enjoying the sights the museum had to offer — back in the day.
After an overwhelming public response, PM Lee acknowledged the Museum’s plight and assured her that relevant authorities were on the case.
With 7,130 signatories on change.org and a separate petition by Connie attracting an additional 7,373 responses, we hope that the Guinness World Record holder of the world’s largest collection of turtles and tortoises will live on as a viable venue for a first date.
While the above petitions served a larger purpose, this one is slightly more frivolous.
But not any less important.
Dedicated to the “unlucky ones” who did not manage to get tickets for a Coldplay show that sold out within seconds, 2,183 supporters – and a torrent of pleas on Facebook – convinced the British band to add a second night to the A Head Full of Dreams Tour.
Thanks to the Internet, more people got to hear the warbled vocal stylings of Chris Martin and crew.
By now, we’ll all have heard that Grab’s acquisition means that Uber is no longer in the game.
When it does finally bow out of the country, we will have lost a valuable service for pet owners here.
According to Uber’s official site, uberPET is a pet-friendly ride option with driver-partners who are comfortable with having pets in their car.
Drivers who opt into the service can earn $2 more per ride completed.
Sounds like a win-win, but this petition starter says Grab has shown no indication to retain the service.
With 2,300 endorsers on the signature list, the starter of the petition, Joe Havely, asked Grab for a response. Here’s their response:
Not exactly victory declared. But at least it’s something to build on.
Meanwhile, we’ll just have to hope that our Grab drivers are OK with having our furry friends onboard.
6. Pick up artist gets dropped
Remember when Julien Blanc wanted to teach guys in Singapore how to “pick up” women by using physical intimidation and emotional abuse?
Yeah, we neither.
Blanc and his posse, Real Social Dynamics, had intended to hold seminars in Singapore. Presumably, they would be filled with “enlightening” tidbits of advice that would be more counter-intuitive than beneficial.
The Ministry of Home Affairs acted swiftly in response to the 8.5K supporters the petition garnered and blocked Blanc’s entry into Singapore.
7. Save Punggol’s natural heritage
Half a decade ago, the Urban Redevelopment Authority was petitioned by one Luo Weiliang.
His aim? To protect a knoll from making way for a proposed road.
And it’s not just any knoll. The fabled “last vestige” of old Punggol, Mr Luo argued that it should be preserved as part of Punggol’s natural heritage.
The knoll, located within a space spanning 500m by 100m, is also home to various animal species.
With just 12 endorsers, and a lot of physical campaigning, Punggol residents’ hard work was rewarded with this:
8. Bring them home
Operation Bring Them Home was a movement started in Australia to repatriate the bodies of fallen soldiers who lay in lonely graves far from home.
Of 521 soldiers who perished in the Vietnam war, 496 were brought back home to Australia.
The remaining 25 remained in transit limbo, their bodies ending up in Malaysia and Singapore.
This typically happened because the bereaved families could not afford to bear the costs of repatriation. One such soldier was Warrant Officer Class II Kevin Conway.
Mr Conway was the the first Australian casualty in the Vietnam War, and had been exhumed three times before finally finding his way home, where he was given a burial with full honours.
Then Prime Minister Tony Abbott listened to Australians’ pleas and offered the Government’s help in getting the bodies of the Vietnam veterans back home from Singapore.
With close to 40,000 signatories, it is heartening to know that this tragic story had a happy ending.
9. The only winning move is not to play
The 2013 Punggol East by-election is probably known for the phantom sum of S$22.5 million that was bandied about, but the PAP’s victory margin of 54.4% to 43.73% could have been even wider with the Singapore Democratic Party’s participation.
According to an Internet person, creating a multi-corner fight in Punggol East would have led to voters losing faith trust in the SDP.
Sure enough, Secretary-General Chee Soon Juan announced in a press conference that he would “heed the call from the public to respect opposition unity”.
And subsequently pulled SDP out of the running in the election.