Looking at all those electronic eyes in Tampines…
By Shawn Danker
Last week, I was given a somewhat odd assignment by my editors. I was told to go and wander around a locality to spot and document what I had called in my mind, the area’s “surveillance presence.”
There are video cameras everywhere, along the roads to catch speedsters, on the backs of buses to snap those who do not “give way” and at traffic junctions in case daredevils run a red light. Then there are those at watering holes of Boat Quay and the lorongs of Geylang to deter unsavoury elements. And you know, of course, of cameras in cars which bring about a steady stream of road bullying images onto the Net and those installed in childcare centres, kindergartens and schools in case some adult thinks it is okay to slap a kid around. There are even walking CCTVs because our police officers will soon be equipped with recording devices to aid them in their work.
My job as a photographer is sometimes made difficult because of Singaporeans’ aversion to being photographed. But that aversion seems to disappear when it came to being videoed for security purposes. Despite the presence of the all-seeing eye, no one seems to care about being constantly watched. Those who do are told this: “In Singapore, people generally feel that if you’re not a criminal or an opponent of the government, you don’t have anything to worry about.”
I decided to pick Tampines Central for the assignment because I expected suburban Singapore to be somewhat free of camera surveillance. Boy, was I wrong.
Dear Tampines residents, have you ever noticed the cameras watching you?
Featured photo by Shawn Danker.
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