It was not about making money or protesting against the establishment.
Instead, about 40 people gathered at Muse House on Saturday to remember a young man taken before his time, to support his grieving family, and to demand justice and answers from the state.
Dinesh Raman Chinnaiah died in Changi Prison on 27 September 2010 after an altercation with prison officers. He was just 21.
After an internal committee of inquiry, the cause of death was determined to be “positional asphyxiation”, and a police officer convicted and fined for negligence.
But Dinesh’s family was never given a full accounting of his death. An independent coroner’s inquiry was discontinued, leaving many questions unanswered. The family are now filing a civil suit against the government, asking that the coroner’s inquiry be re-opened.
“I want the guys who did this to my brother to be punished, because it was a life stolen. A life that we loved,” said Dinesh’s sister Ms Shan.
“I want to know what was done to my son in prison,” his mother Mdm Selvi added.
Their demands are backed by Singapore’s civil society; many from a variety of causes have come forward in solidarity.
Speaking at Saturday’s memorial, women’s rights activist Constance Singam said,”We owe it to Dinesh and to ourselves to look at the bigger picture of what his death means in the wider context of the values we hold as a society and the expectations we have of our government to be open, to be transparent and to serve justice equally and fairly to all even the least among us.”
“It [the coroner’s inquiry] should have been done earlier to give closure and answers,” said anti-death penalty activist Rachel Zeng.
The community also reacted strongly to the Ministry of Home Affairs’ statement regarding the family’s court application. The statement had rebutted many of the allegations the family made about the sequence of events that led to Dinesh’s death, but had gone further in suggesting that the family was hoping to “settle” the matter for “substantial windfall amounts”.
The Ministry’s comments were seen as insensitive, with Ms Singam describing it as “callous”.
“Is MHA suggesting that the family has touched a lottery as a result of their son’s death? How can one possibly term any compensation for a death as a “windfall”?” she asked.
Although the family is seeking recompense for their loss, getting answers and achieving closure is of greater importance.
“I want the seven persons to tell me the truth, what happened in the prison," Mdm Selvi said as she tearfully addressed those in attendance.
"I have three kids, and one is gone. Every day I suffer and think about my son. I can’t take it.”