As a runner, I enjoy taking part in races with a cause.
Race against Cancer, Run for Hope, Income Eco Run, Run for Light, Safari Zoo Run… Runners typically are not out to achieve their PBs (personal bests) at such runs, what sets their adrenaline pumping is the coming together of many like-minded people for a common cause.
So when I read about the two persons who tried to champion the anti-death penalty cause at the recent Yellow Ribbon Prison Run (YRPR), I was irked.
Irked not because I am against their cause. It’s entirely their prerogative to campaign for whatever they feel strongly about. But it’s one thing to do so legally and not at the expense of others, and another to hijack others’ event for your own purpose. The latter is just being plain selfish.
The YRPR organising committee had come out saying that the “duo’s actions at this year’s (run) are a disservice to offenders, ex-offenders and their families whom the Yellow Ribbon Prison seeks to help”.
I cannot agree more.
The YRPR is about showing support to ex-offenders who want to be given a second chance to start afresh. It is not a place to debate whether Singapore should continue to have death penalty.
So don’t lump the cause of helping those who have served their sentences and want to turn over a new leaf with that of eradicating death penalty. They are not the same.
If the duo wants to generate public support for their cause, they can always apply for a permit to hold a rally at Hong Lim Park. There is nothing to stop them from doing this legitimately.
The LGBT community has done it for years, opposition politicians and social activists have spoken against CPF there, and most recently, green activists have organised Singapore’s first-ever climate rally in the Park. They did not hijack a run or exploit the work of another event for their causes. They did the hard work by organising their own events. As such, turning up in anti-death penalty tee on the YRPR race day despite being told not to do so, throwing the bib on the ground and running separately on the public road were not only wilful acts out to disrupt the race, but also childish behaviour that do not do the duo’s cause any good.
Some may think that the police was too harsh on the pair – arguing that it’s just about a t-shirt, a bib and two persons, and a warning should more than suffice.
But this is more than a t-shirt, a bib and two persons. It is about the spirit of the law and fairness.
If we allow members of the public to exploit/hijack other people’s events for their own cause like what the pair has done, wouldn’t it be unfair to those who abide by the law and choose to do it at Hong Lim Park? And wouldn’t it be unfair too for those who have painstakingly organised events meant for other causes?