Cycling is itself political, and it would be futile to separate cycling from politics. The act of cycling itself is a political statement. Whenever we choose to ride a bicycle, we are challenging the status quo of the power structure in the society that favours the rich, powerful and privileged people who predominantly drive cars. We are subverting the classist system that treats cars as status symbols. We are helping to reduce the impacts of environmental degradation caused by pollutive motor vehicles run on fossil fuels. By switching from travelling by motor vehicles to bicycles, we are also easing traffic congestion on the roads. Last but not least, cycling empowers the marginalised and disadvantaged, and restores equality to them.
Then again, I am coming to realise that the moment I become more actively involved in politics, I begin to experience pushback in the form of repression and dissenting voices from some people. For example, last night when I shared a photo of a fellow countryman riding a bicycle in Love Cycling SG Facebook group and commented that he was living by example, the group admin deleted the photo. I decided to post a question in the group to ask the admin why the photo was removed. The admin deleted that post as well without explanation. This gave me the impression that the admin wasn’t interested in dialogues and was unwilling to be held accountable for their actions. I decided to post one final time to call them out for being discriminatory.
I also decided to leave the group with my dignity intact (remembering the importance about being true to myself and not succumb to groupism). I am in the process of working through my thoughts and emotions based on the responses to my post by articulating them in this blog:
If I didn’t challenge the admin like this and let things slide, the discrimination would continue. The fact that photos of ruling party members riding bicycles are allowed but not other party members shows this group is indeed partisan and discriminatory. It smacks of hypocrisy.
This episode underlines a fear-based climate and controlling culture that inhibits free speech and expression of our fundamental human rights. It keeps people repressed, small-minded and immature. I refuse to allow myself to be intimidated or humiliated or talked down at. I am hurt and disgusted by their treatment. I need strong and forceful language to speak my cause. The fact that admin initially refused to respond to my post shows they were not willing to be accountable for their actions. It reminds me of the same way a former prime minister depended on his lawyer to defend him when another politician confronted him directly in the law court.
I chose to leave the group with my dignity intact. If anyone is inspired, it is to encourage them that they too can stand their ground and let their voices be heard for the sake of justice and equality.
So the admin finally replied, saying the photo was linked to SDP Facebook page, and was deemed “political”.
Firstly, why didn’t he clarify earlier? He could have chosen to reply my question in my earlier post instead of removing it without explanation. Why wait until I challenged his action publicly and called out on the apparent discrimination and lack of transparency and accountability?
Secondly, does the link itself denote a infringement of the rules regarding “no political statements”? If so, then I would say it is double standard on the part of the admin because they have allowed photos of politicians from the ruling party to be posted in the past. In any case, the reason the link of SDP Facebook page was shown together with the photo I posted is because the photo doesn’t belong to me, and when I shared it via Facebook, the link was automatically shown. If I were to save the photo in my computer and upload it onto the Facebook group, I would have to acknowledge the source, and SDP Facebook page would still need to be mentioned.
The point I want to make is that the link of SDP Facebook page alone doesn’t necessarily constitute an infringement of the rules, or else the rules would have applied to all other political parties in the past.
In reality, cycling and politics invariably overlap because it is through politics that policies are formed and mindsets are shaped to influence the cycling culture in Singapore, for better or for worse, depending on how we live by example through our cycling activities and conversations, as well as our interactions with pedestrians and motorists.
At this point, I am glad to have removed myself from the group as it might not be worthwhile getting into a debate with them, and this blog can serve as a platform for my voice to be heard. At the very least, I am glad the status quo in that group is being challenged and political awareness about justice and equality is being increased, I believe.