Alright friends many of you have expressed curiosity and concern, so here is an update on my prison experience
As reported in the news, my sentence was 6 weeks + $2000 fine. The 2k fine defaults to an additional ten days so my total sentence was 52 days. However, for every prisoner there’s this thing called ‘remission’ where every sentence you get in court, you will deduct 1/3 of it. Every prisoner only serves 2/3 of their sentence unless they commit a very serious act that’d be considered ‘bad behaviour’, like beating up a policeman. So my final sentence was 35 days. HOWEVER, completely unknown to me until an officer announced it to me while I was in prison, apparently there was also a home detention program where you could spent about half of your sentence at home. So eventually I only spent 21 days in prison and an additional 14 days locked at home.
This time I was sent to Tanah Merah Prison. On weekdays there would be 1 hour of ‘yardtime’ where there would alternate between ‘indoor yard’ (Sports hall with TV, newspapers and Chinese chess) and ‘outdoor yard’ (finally facing sunlight with either basketball or sepak takraw). Weekends you’re stuck in the cell entirely for 72 hours. Family or friend visit only twice/month and they can send 3 books to read/visit.
The cell was pretty bad. It was really stuffy. You slept on the floor with some blankets to act as the ‘pillow’. You had a cup, toothbrush, toothpaste, pail and a pail cap. There was a surveillance camera watching us all the time.
The food was rather terrible. Breakfast serves 4 slices of white bread with either jam or margarine every day. Other meals vary in quality with the least bad being white rice with boneless chicken or soggy sardines, and the worse being white rice with hardboiled egg and beansprouts or tofu with chinese greens ohhh it was horrible.
Cellmates were pretty good though I had 2 of them. One of them was really great! Intelligent, multi-talented, knows programming, sales and has a music band. I taught him about the political compass and Anarchism, he ranted about how horrible pop music was, lamenting on Rihanna’s atrocious lyrics Umbrella-ella-ella-ella-ella-ella. One notable activity we did was discussing Chee Soon Juan’s Democratically Speaking (an anti-Singapore government book which the police approved lol). The book was great for prison in that in that it covers many topics about Singapore from economic policies to social policies to opposition party drama, so there were loads to discuss. I read the entire book first, then he read it, and in between every interesting idea in the book he stopped and we discussed it. It was really fun. He’s probably an opposition supporter now. He’s a really nice guy and I’m going to miss alot.
Occasionally in the cell you’d feel restless and bored, but you eventaully over it and continue talking to your cellmate, reading or thinking about world issues, relationships and life. There are plenty of other fun details during the prison experience, all of which will be written in the hopefully upcoming book ‘Year Of The Banana’.
The last 2 weeks of home detention was much easier. I had to stay at home and could only go out between 12-3pm. I could not smoke or drink alcohol (neither of which I did) and also could not post anything online. Parents helped to buy food and I just spent the days watching movies, following the US elections and private messaging my friends.
Oh yes, there was also this news spreading around that I was threatened with violence and assaulted badly in prison by muslims. That is a little exaggerated largely due to a huge miscommunication on my part because at the time I conveyed the message I was feeling fearful. Yes the prison looked like it was about 80% Malays and they were aware that I criticised their religion, so one of them did threaten me with violence by saying “You like to talk about islam? Later I ask the police to change my cell and come to yours, then you talk about islam” and another muslim suddenly came up to me and asked for my exact address and whether my parents were alive. He then condescendingly hit me on the back and playfully kicked me on the right leg. That was the ‘assault’. In the end I told the police I was afraid so I told the police and they segregated me from the rest, so my yardtime was only spent with my cellmates and not the typical large group. The police investigated and eventually those 2 Muslims didn’t get any new charges because the incident wasn’t serious enough, which was great because I didn’t want any serious punishment to happen to them I just wanted to be safe.
So overall experience? …. Pretty bad, but still manageable. I am used to being indoors most of the time though so people who prefer the outdoors would probably dislike it much more. And don’t worry like all previous experiences I had with prison, I don’t think it affected me that much. Thank you all so much for your care and concern while I was inside. I’ve made plans for the future and you will probably be updated with most of them if you continue following me on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you all for your support and I will see you very soon. Let the fight for democracy continue!
(P.S. They did cut my hair)
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