When I heard the graffiti on MRT trains, I thought it was a little odd because we are not a country with characteristics that will produce graffiti artists motivated enough to breaking into the SMRT premises to practise his art form.
It turned out the artists were 2 foreign men - a British tourist who has gone home and a Swiss business consultant working here:
"Oliver Fricker, 32, was accused of committing trespass and vandalism in mid-May, and a district judge who described him as a flight risk set bail at $100,000. His passport was also impounded. A worried-looking Fricker told the judge he needed a lawyer and asked that bail be lowered to US$40,000. But the judge cut him short and rejected the bail request, stressing the seriousness of the offence. " - AsiaOne News[Link]
Unfortunately, for the young Swiss, this is a "serious offence" in Singapore. He has violated security, committed an act of trespass and vandalism. Breaking the law is always very serious in Singapore. Yes, he could have planted a b..mb or sarbotaged the train. See this is Singapore, this Swiss feller has to be made an example so that everyone understands the "seriouness" of the offence. The more he is punished the more people will understand the severity of the crime he has committed and it will be deeply etched in the minds of Singaporeans and all those who come here that what has been done to our MRT train is heinous crime that deserves heavy punishment. But what really has this young Swiss done???....
"The break-in, believed to have taken place before dawn on May 17, was not immediately detected and the train plied its route in full view of commuters, one of whom filmed it and posted a clip on video-sharing site Youtube. " - AsiaOne Report.
He exposed the security flaws in our MRT depots. All they needed to get in was to cut a hole in the fence to get in. Yes, it was too dark to see that "Protected Area" shoot on sight sign that would have struck fear and deterred any good Singaporean. He had about 20-30 minutes to paint undetected because nobody patrols the area or the area is not patrolled frequent enough - they were counting on that big red "Protected Area" sign for security that is a lot cheaper than putting human beings and monitoring systems in place.
There are many ways to look at this painting act. It can be seen as simply youthful mischief. The SMRT can take some free lessons learnt about its security 9r lack of security without paying security consultants millions and thank this Mr. Oliver Fricker. Some may view his art as something colorful and refreshing on our dodgy overcrowded trains.....how we view this act will say a lot about our society.
But let me ask you why do you think Oliver Fricker did it? ...Really why?... He is a business counsultant with a cushy job and one day he woke up and decided to commit a 'serious crime' against Singapore? I think it is more something like this. Oliver Fricker (perhaps aka FrikArtist in the Swiss graffiti circles) wakes up everyday to the MRT to work. The trains are packed like cattle and he like many Singaporeans was started to feel like cattle herded to work everyday. Sometimes the MRT train works more like a microwave when the aircon is turned down. When he goes to the train station everyday he is greeted by signs, "Don't Step over the Yellow Line", "Life is Precious", "Jumping onto the tracks is an Offence", "No Eating or Drinking"...and so on. Fricker feels like cattle - contrained by rules and yellow lines. Frustrated, tired and missing his "Swiss standard" of living, Mr. Fricker woke up one day and hatched what he thought would be a nice refreshing prank to color the train he takes to work and perhaps put a smile or two on the faces of his fellow cattle as they enter the train to be microwaved for the next half or one hour.
I really don't know what was on Fricker's mind when he committed his act. The story above is just one version. But there are many ways to interpret what he has done. Unfortunately Fricker was in Singapore when he committed his act and it will be seen through the eyes of Singapore authorities. He will be seen as a serious criminal committing a serious crime of vandalism and threspass deserving of serious punishment. He will be punished in a way that will instil fear in all those who think of committing the same act. Breaking rules in Singapore is always serious ...regardless of his intent. It is unlikely that Mr. Fricker perhaps woke up one day wanting to commit a serious crime, violate security and endanger Singapore....he most probably woke up one day to break the monotony of his life in Singapore by doing what he probably did many times back home in Switzerland as a teenager (from his art work, you can tell he is no first timer). His biggest mistake is to forget that Singapore is not Switzerland.....