Political protest is an act of personal expression. It says: this is me, this is who I am and what I stand for, and you can’t take it away from me.
One or two years into my new job at a large Singaporean organisation, I found out that my senior from high school had been appointed to shadow a prominent minister. Over lunch, I asked him what he had learnt.
My cousin in Shanghai was two years old when his mother, an architect, was taken away by the Red Guards, a student-led paramilitary movement, during the Cultural Revolution. All he remembers is his mother suddenly disappearing; his father, a doctor, had also gone missing days earlier. For what felt like an eternal darkness, he and his elder brother, who would have been five or six around that time, were left alone in their flat. He doesn’t remember how they survived those days. Maybe neighbours came by and brought food. Maybe an extended relative checked in on them. After what felt like forever, his mother returned, but she was a completely different woman.