Getting into trouble with OSHE?

Some last updates.
 
Today, as most of you would know, NUS BS held its Mid-autumn Celebrations at the Engine Bridge. The usual fare of lanterns was hung along the railings, as per every year. What was additional, however, were rows of tealights on plastic cups in front of a Buddha statue. Yes, like that of a candlelight procession in Dharma Camps.
 
I suggested to Tiong Han that since the Burmese were denied an outdoor candlelight vigil to raise awareness, why not let them join in our Mid-autumn Celebrations and chant the Metta Sutta together with an internal sort of candlelight vigil as part of the activity? We decided to go ahead, since Engine Bridge is out of the way, and it doesn’t make any difference since lanterns already contain candles.
 
And so the event started. There were quite some Burmese friends who joined us for the whole event. Strangely, however, we also had two burly middle-aged men who were watching us from a bench outside a nearby LT. They did not approach us; they merely exchanged words with one another while staring intently in our direction.
 
Lanterns were lighted, without issue.
 
A couple of security guards then walked amongst us while we were playing our games and acting our skit. Then, when we were singing songs, the plain-clothed men and the security guards finally approached Tiong Han to ask him for his permit to hold the event. At this time, the tea-lights had been arranged on the ground in the words: "PEACE & JUSTICE BURMA".
 
Note that they asked for our permit from OSA to hold our Mid-autumn festival celebrations at engine bridge, which of course we had! We showed them the approval through a laptop. They then told us that our gathering constitutes a protest, and if passers-by complained to the police, we would be in trouble. So I asked them whether we are not allowed to light candles as part of Mid-autumn with its lanterns. They said CANDLES WERE NOT THE ISSUE, but the words on the ground constitue a demostration or a protest. I questioned whether one is not allowed to pray for peace? They then changed stance and said the issue was with the word BURMA. So we made a compromise: we would remove the word BURMA and replace it with "FOR ALL". They said that then it was not a problem.

 
So we lit the tea-lights and chanted our puja. Throughout this whole time, the security officers, including the two men, behaved extremely suspiciously and, in my opinion, rudely. They took out digital cameras and took many many photos of our lit candles, our table, our Buddha statue and our group holding candles while chanting. They just kept loitering around throughout the whole prayer session snapping away at their cameras, not saying a word to us.
 
Eventually, when everything was over, the two men called Tiong Han to one side again.
 
From what I understood from Tiong Han, the two men said that they had reported to their superioirs. Their superiors wanted
 
(1) photographs from our own digicams
(2) names of all the people who were present today
 
and they said they would go back to write a report and await our explanation.
 
I found it ludicrous.
 
(1) Why should we give you our photos? They are our own. You took enough of yours anyway.
(2) Why should I and how can I give you all the names? The event was carried out with approval!
 
There were only 2 possible things that we could get into trouble with: religious activities ‘outdoors’, or dirtying the floor with dripped candlewax.
 
If the candles represent a hazard, you officers from the Office of Safety, Health and Environment (OSHE) should have stopped me immediately. However, if even you were ambiguous about the rules, how do I know that I am presenting a fire hazard from small candles with fire extinguishers nearby? If you said that we were "demonstrating" and "protesting", we had already removed the word BURMA. In our prayer, we mentioned that we were praying for (explicitly) all that passed away, whether via natural or unnatural causes. Nothing whatsoever was mentioned about Myanmar. Finally, why would anyone organise a protest in such an out-of-the-way place and without any publicity or media attention?

 
I wait to see what kind of trouble we will get into. Meanwhile, bureaucrats should learn to use that organ in between the ears abit more.
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