ACTIVATE! SERIES - The Promise of Hong Lim Park: Pink Dot and the Activism of Love by Mr Quck Zhong Yi
Date : 24 Oct 2018
Time : 16:00 - 17:30
Venue : AS8 Level 4, Seminar Room 04-04
10 Kent Ridge Crescent, Singapore 119260
National University of Singapore @ KRC
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Jointly organized by the Asian Urbanisms Cluster of Asia Research Institute, and Department of Architecture, National University of Singapore.


CHAIRPERSON

Dr Lee Kah Wee, Department of Architecture, National University of Singapore


ABSTRACT

Speaker's Corner at Hong Lim Park is the only space in Singapore where citizens can legally hold public demonstrations, rallies, performances and speeches. As a bounded space of civil liberty, it exemplifies a feature of political culture in Singapore where freedoms are marked out in space rather than attached inalienably to citizenship. Since its establishment in 1980, rules on the use of this space have changed and a variety of events have been hosted there. Arguably, the only event that has weathered all these changes and continued to grow in prominence and scale is the annual Pink Dot rally.

Established in 2009 by a group of Singaporeans, Pink Dot is a social movement, which supports the belief that everyone deserves the freedom to love, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Its annual event at Hong Lim Park combines family-friendly carnival activities, a tent of LGBT support community groups, a concert, and ends with the formation of the titular human Pink Dot. Participation, social media following, celebrity ambassadorship, and business support for Pink Dot Sg have grown steadily, despite obstacles from counter movements and increasingly restrictive government regulations.

The talk will focus on how the movement negotiated and redefined the ever-changing boundaries of Speaker’s Corner over the years: from a no-man’s land buffer between the participants and dare-not’s in the first year, to the over-spilling in 2015 when neighbouring businesses were involved, and ending with the authorities' requirement to set up physical barriers in 2017.


For Further Reading

- Chua, L.R. (2014) Mobilizing Gay Singapore: Rights and Resistance in an Authoritarian State. Temple University Press.
- Ramdas K. (2013) “Contesting Landscapes of Familyhood: Singlehood, the AWARE Saga and the Pink Dot Celebrations" in Ho E.L.E., Woon C.Y. and Ramdas K. (Eds). Changing Landscapes of Singapore: Old Tensions, New Discoveries. Singapore: NUS Press, pp. 109-125.
- Tan, C. (2015) Pink Dot: Cultural and Sexual Citizenship in Gay Singapore. Anthropological Quarterly, 88(4): 969-996.


ABOUT THE SPEAKER

Quck Zhong Yi is a registered architect and member of the Pink Dot Sg steering committee. He graduated with a Master in Architecture from ESA Paris in 2005, then returned to Singapore and gained experience in architecture and urbanism. He has been a partner at design practice Asolidplan since 2016.

After volunteering at the first Pink Dot in 2009, Zhong Yi joined the steering committee the following year, inspired by the passion and talent of the founding members. He gradually took on the roles of principal coordinator, authority liaison, and spatial planner, for the annual event that was growing in size, visibility and reach. Along with the committee, Zhong Yi helped grow the movement despite several challenges, namely: a logistically demanding revamp of the event to a “night dot” in 2012, dealing with organised opposition from a vocal minority of religious conservatives in 2014, navigating legislative changes in 2016 pertaining to Hong Lim Park, working closely with the authorities to implement new security measures since 2017, and the self-imposed challenge of wanting to make Pink Dot better year after year.

Zhong Yi is proud to be part of a passionate team and, despite the many challenges, continues to support and empower the community because he believes that change can only be effected through sustained and collective effort, with patience and love.


REGISTRATION

Admission is free. We would greatly appreciate if you click on the "Register" button above to RSVP.


ACTIVATE! EMERGENT FORMS OF CIVIC PRACTICES IN CONTEMPORARY ASIAN CITIES SEMINAR SERIES

In recent years, the multifaceted forms of civic practices—ranging from participatory urbanism, to artistic interventions, and to street protests launched by activists—have become more prominent in Asian cities, attracting scholarly attention across different disciplines. The transformations in civil society have raised the following questions: What are the emerging challenges and contingencies the varied interest groups are facing? What kind of conflicts can arise during and after instances of civil activism, and how can these tensions be ameliorated? How can social engagement, practice and research be bridged together by, and for, different individuals and agencies? When does social engagement become perceived as civil activism?

This seminar series, jointly organized by Asian Urbanisms cluster (ARI) and the Department of Architecture, critically presents and examines the novel forms of civic practices that have manifested in the Asian urban context through a transdisciplinary framework. Bringing together academics, practitioners, students, and the general public interested in urban spatial strategies in relation to negotiate the formation and role of civil societies, the seminars seek to initiate discourse on the following themes: First, to explore how the varied stakeholders involved in civil society groups, including academics and educators, activists, artists, NGOs, NPOs, informal interest groups and community associations, political parties, and governmental organizations currently de/reconstruct the contextual and physical understanding of shared urban space in Asia. It is of interest to review the main goals of the novel civic practices, and the extent in which these aspirations are realised. Secondly, these seminars seek to articulate how stakeholders engage in the process of collaborative knowledge production through these practices. More importantly, the aim of the series is to conceptualise civic practices as a product of the distinctive trajectories of socio-economic development, spatial/cultural policies, and the structures of political governance in the Asian region. To reiterate, these seminars provide an overview on the distinctive challenges and opportunities that contemporary Asian cities pose for civil societies, and the kind of local and global characteristics that are emerging in these locales.


Organizers

Asia Research Institute | Minna ValjakkaSonia Lam
Department of Architecture | Cho Im Sik & Lee Kah Wee

Contact Person(s)
Minghua TAY