Baked beans – a commentary

The mysterious polarizing Sticker Lady

Who is the Sticker Lady, SKL0?

In my eyes, she’s just another person who is the subject of an online petition which has gone viral on Facebook and other social networking sites. She’s no one significant, just someone who showed me the ills of herd behaviour on social media yet again.

This 25-year-old girl made tongue-in-cheek expressions into stickers and stuck them around town. Expressions like “no need to press so hard”, “press once can already”, and “press until shiok” were stuck above the buttons for pedestrians at traffic lights. She even spray-painted “my grandfather road” on several roads (in front of the Ministry of National Development building, no less!).

Have been astonished by the number of people who have signed the online petition to MICA to lessen her charge from a Vandalism Act (Cap. 341) charge to a Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisances) Act (Cap. 184) charge. Have they thought through the ramifications of what they are doing? I don’t even think that the person who created the petition has much knowledge of law. I have my doubts as to whether Sticker Lady’s actions can be classified as falling under Section 11 (1) (a) of the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisances) Act, which literally deals with buildings, walls and fences only, not traffic lights and roads.

I’ve seen so many comments berating the powers-that-be for quashing creativity, enforcing the law without contextualizing, and not knowing the distinction between street art and vandalism.

I think otherwise. If you do something which you know is clearly against the laws in your own country, you are only tempting your own fate and making yourself open to state action. You have to be prepared to face up to the consequences of your own actions and this is part of respecting the legal structures in place. Even if this means being prosecuted for a Vandalism Act offence and being penalized with up to 3 years in jail just for some stickers you carefully designed and pasted on traffic lights. I don’t think an online petition is going to help very much, unless one wishes to go into a discussion on the substantive merits of that law, and then petition for its repealing – that, I think, is a different and separate issue.

Petitions like the aforesaid are only indicative of public sentiment, which, apparently, is still at current publishing time 13, 616 persons in favour of amending her charge out of a target of 20,000, because not many people have the courage to stick their necks out for this girl and sanction her acts retrospectively.

If the Sticker Lady’s acts were in the name of art and not vandalism, then why not call for her to be released altogether? I know there are some people in support of this position. But the fact that the above mentioned petition primarily calls for the amending of her charge, indicates that people still believe that she did something out of the bounds of normal behavior.

And if the police and public prosecutors respectively do choose to release her and/or amend her charge, what kind of signal is it sending to the public? That one can get away with spray-painting roads as long as the vandalism is humorous and tastefully done? That what she did is not vandalism, but mere public nuisance? Who will be the arbiter of art vs. vandalism? One man’s art is another man’s graffiti. Why were the general public’s reaction to the Oliver Fricker MRT vandalism case so vastly different from this one? He was sentenced to 5 months’ jail and 3 strokes of the cane and it didn’t create as big a ruckus this one. Wasn’t what he created akin to a beautiful decorative spray-painting on the MRT train as well?

For the record, I heard Sticker Lady had been warned before, because her stickers were a nuisance to the handicapped at traffic lights.

People who know me well understand that I love the arts and I welcome the liberalizing of the scene in Singapore. Thus I must say that there are already a number of very conducive spaces for expression here. Instead of exhibiting her works or selling them at the many flea markets around Singapore, Sticker Lady made the poor choice of vandalising public property. Singapore has already chosen to loosen up on a number of fronts, but I think encouraging this vandal further is not beneficial to all of us. She’s crossed the line here, no doubt. And I won’t consider her much of an artist; don’t see much in her message and acts that are worth defending at all.

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