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Friday, June 4 | 9:24 AM

I woke up on the morning of 4 June 2010 to a pleasant surprise...

A graffiti-painted train pulling into Kembangan MRT station was filmed by an intrigued individual who then posted it on YouTube. Just like the pimped up ride, the video made its round before hitting some raw nerves.

I really thought the graffiti added a sparkle to our rather "sterile" surroundings - a description made by a fellow foreign backpacker I had met on a trip years ago.

Anway, the practice of spray-painting trains can be traced to New York in the 1970s, when modern graffiti artists broke into subway yards to 'hit trains', usually along the sides of the cars. Unfortunately, the talented individual pulled his trick at the wrong place and at the wrong time. Not surprisingly, the authorities were quick to slap the "vandalism" label, citing terrorism experts who were concerned about the "breach of security", which comes at a time when public transport networks are viewed as potential terror targets. Just last month, it was revealed that the Orchard MRT station had been a possible terror target.

A reader of the popular online interactive website, STOMP, was not very tolerant of this bright spark by the vandal either:

"The Swiss vandal also needs to be severely dealt with. Years ago we also had another foreign vandal named Michael Fay, and we caned him for spraying paint on several cars.

"This case is no different. In fact it's far worse, since it was done on public property. Cane him as well, don't deport him. We need to show the world our stand on such crimes.

"This is a clear case of the kind of lousy imported values these foreigners bring with them. Why are they being anti-establishment when it's not even their country?"

Oh wow! With the recent slash and attack incident, where a local teen was attacked by some marauding foreign workers at the Kallang area, still fresh on our psyche, some must be wondering if Singaporeans are now paying the price for globalisation. Perhaps the recent government initiatives to promote the arts and the aesthetics have yet to rub onto that critic.

Nevertheless, the longstanding publication powerhouse, The Straits Times, concluded their report on 4 June 2010 with this very stark reminder on life on this tiny red dot of Singapore,

"Under the law, those guilty of vandalism can be fined up to $2,000 or jailed up to three years, and caned between three and eight strokes.

Those convicted of entering a protected place without permission can receive a maximum punishment of two years' jail and a $1,000 fine."

The pimped-up train has since been scrubbed and now plies the tracks looking sparkling clean again.

Incidentally, I was walking through an underpass late last month when I noticed the above remains of a graffiti which I had first come across almost ten years ago. Naturally, I whipped out my handphone and took a picture of it again. It was only then that I realised that the new addition to the frame was the NO CYCLING FINE sign at the far left hand corner. :)

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