The arrest of Artist Samantha Lo, 27, who has been dubbed the ‘sticker lady’ and called Singapore’s version of Bansky, has divided public opinion in the city, which is well-known for its obsession with public order and tidiness!
Lo, the founder of an online arts magazine was arrested after it was alleged that she put up a series of stickers and stencils in public places around the city. These included messages on traffic signal buttons that read ‘Press to Time Travel’ and ‘Press to Stop Time’ and various other stencil images.
Though Lo’s witticisms and puns, might sound quite commonplace and largely inoffensive to a New Yorker or a Londoner, in puritanical Singapore, it is thought of as vandalism and if found guilty, Lo could face up to 3 years in prison and a hefty $2000 fine.
Lo’s arrest has caused a lot of controversy, many Singaporean citizens have urged the city officials to show some leniency and have said that it needs to address its ‘draconian’ policies. More than 14,000 people have signed the online petition for Lo, and many people have left comments complaining about the strict rules and repression that residents of the city are subject to.
It isn’t just the public opinion that is divided either, it seems like the Singaporean parliament is pretty split about the whole affair too! Politician Janice Koh has called for prosecutors to be lenient with Lo, whose work she compared to world-famous street artist Banksy. In the Guardian article about Lo’s arrest, Koh said: “It is almost impossible to talk about developing a culturally vibrant, creative or lovable city, without some tolerance for those slightly messy activities that sometimes challenge the rules. For Singapore, it would be useful to make a distinction between this kind of art and outright graffiti or vandalism that seeks to deliberately destroy public property for its own sake.”
But a police spokesperson was adamant that Lo’s act was one of vandalism and drew attention to the amount of police time spent investigating the incidents and cleaning up after them, he said “Vandalizing public property is a very irresponsible act. Offenders will be dealt with in accordance with the law.”
It is pretty insane when you think about it, apparently if men are convicted of the 1966 vandalism law, then they are subjected to three strokes of the cane. Wow maybe somebody did press that button and travel back in time – I mean, the cane? WTF!!! It is also perfectly legal to ‘flog’ a vandal and you can’t buy chewing gum anywhere in the city because officials want to keep their pavements gum-free! Do they go round making sure people tuck their shirts in and brush their hair in the morning too I wonder?