With the Singapore police investigating a protest by several blindfolded activists who held up books on a subway train, a sudden recall of Fahrenheit 451 comes to mind.
Singapore police said on Monday they were investigating activists whose actions were a call for justice for 22 people detained in 1987 under a tough internal security law.
In a dystopian future or (past?) world, this would be perfectly normal.
But in 2017 when the internet is king?
In the real world, the activists held copies of a recently published book “1987: Singapore’s Marxist Conspiracy 30 Years On” on Saturday.
They sitting on a train in a rare protest in the tightly controlled city-state.
Fahrenheit 451 is a dystopian novel by American writer Ray Bradbury, published in 1953, and which is regarded as one of his best works.
The novel presents a future American society where books are outlawed and “firemen” burn any books they found.
It is a sordid story indeed, but one that will impress anybody with its high adrenaline drama with the actors on one side risking their lives trying to books from a long gone past,
The story involves railways, Hounds that purges the city of books and book readers who are torched with a flame thrower.
In one of the scene, a character instructs a fireman deserter to follow old railroad tracks out of town to look for camps of homeless intellectuals.
And there is the TV news, where the book readers hear that a new Mechanical Hound, followed by a helicopter camera crew, has been sent out after the deserter.
And the character plans to take a bus out of the city to visit his printer friend as soon as possible.
All this for the sake of saving books – which they eventually did by memorising them and reading them in the camp of the homeless intellectuals.
In Singapore, the police confirmed that a report has been lodged and are looking into the matter.
“Anyone with information can submit it online,” police said in a emailed statement.”
The only difference is that there is no sound of the sirens or voice from the loudspeaker warning people to inform the ‘firemen’ on the whereabout of the bookworms.
But everything is done under strict public assembly laws, where protests are only allowed at a designated downtown square, which activists say have been since long desecrated by the power that is.
Twenty-two people were detained in 1987, some for up to three years without trial, under the colonial-era Internal Security Act (ISA) for their alleged involvement in a Marxist conspiracy to overthrow the government.
One of the activists who took part in the train protest, and appeared in photographs of it posted on social media with three colleagues, later said they were seeking justice.