Handed Obsessions - Blackouts, Births & Butts
"Government acts to avoid more blackouts" was the big headline (in the 192-paged, Saturday-edition of The Straits Times, July 10, 2004) in relation to breakdowns in our nation's power plants. The Minister of State (Trade & Industry) issued this pubic statement: "I want all of you to have absolutely no doubts that in our typically Singapore Govt. fashion, we are going to be obsessive and we are going to be, if need be, heavy-handed..." My-my, what a wonderful disclosure that is - "obsessive" and "heavy-handed," self-proclaimed and declared as "typical," no less. Can you blame me then for being so obsessive with my X'Ho-Files?
That public statement, as reactionary hip-&-funky talk, also tells me that my Files have been well followed and read by Big Brother's holding company. I'm honored. BigO must feel the same way too. Allow me to adopt a "heavy-handed" position and say thank-you to that certain Minister, despite the non-public acknowledgement of my work and contribution to the system. Guess I should also thank all his henchmen for scouring up required information on me.
Too much! - I hear you say of my gesture there. Hey, nothing's too much nowadays. Donch forget, we're Uniquely Singapore - proud unto the world and of our "faulty" English slogans too. And donch you even dare think it a "heavy handed" justification, we've proudly "obsessed" about it already. Fully justified, my love, of that hip-&-swinging mode.
"US court awards $75 million to families of 3 SilkAir victims" went the top headline in the ST on July 9, 2004. One of the crash-victim's families said "it did not file a lawsuit in Singapore." Why, hah?
"How much space for advocacy groups?" was a question asked in the 204-paged, Saturday-edition of the ST on July 17, 2004. The answer provided by the Insight columnist: "Interest groups can now be registered on a fast track... only if they are not pursuing civil and political rights or the governance of Singapore... (or) human rights, environmental rights and animal rights." What does that leave us with then? Well, we are told a hip-hop dance group was granted the green light in just six short weeks. Funky!
As for the gay-awareness group People Like Us (PLU) that was turned down when it tried to register, Insight said "it would be contrary to public interest to grant legitimacy to the promotion of homosexual activities and view-points, at this point."
In that case, I suppose openly condoned gay saunas, teeming with no-towel-night splendor in dark rooms and thriving as businesses in our midst now, are to be viewed as promoting health activities. Hello, do we know hypocrisy even as it stares at our Merlion-dollar face? Going by the non-advocacy of that issue, I suppose we don't give a shit. Frankly, who does? Insight by insiders with six-month bonus do, naturally, and with nothing less than divine "heavy-handed" nonchalance in agenda-obsession.
On that same day, Mr. "Thinking Aloud" Warren Fernandez wrote in his piece about Birth Dearth, Age Rage - "How does industry achieve new economies of scale when the number of consumers is no longer growing, much less perpetually falling? What sustains the value of your house, or your retirement portfolio, when there are even fewer younger people to whom you might sell your accumulated assets?" Good question, Mr. Warranted. Why not ask the Boss, who's suppose to know it all, have all the quick-turnaround solutions and who DECREES WHAT OUR HUMAN RIGHTS ARE?
Mind you, those two articles - the Insight on advocacy groups and the one advocating population-growth - sat page-to-page of each other. Press-arrogance as you'll not see elsewhere. But do we REALLY care? O, please read Insight in future to obsessively tell you with great pillars-of-society pride that we do.
"Mature themes OK under pay-TV ratings" was a ST headline on July 1, 2004. "One of the first shows to make use of the new ratings will be the much talked-about Sex And The City series... aired with some cuts." I marvel at the way the Media Development Authority bothered to explain at length about the whys and why-fors of it all. Simply spare us the fuss and say - all those intelligent TV viewers who wanted to watch the series have, by now, watched it on DVD anyway. Perhaps a sign of muddled obsession for justification, hence the media fuss.
One film-industry person was quoted saying: "It now becomes the consumers' responsibility to decide what to watch as the (new) rating system provides them with an informed choice." Can we then assume that it is the authorities' fault that we weren't given that "informed choice" before? But why weren't we, anyway? Huh? We weren't ready? Or should that be - Big Brother wasn't ready?
In a separate story titled "More choice, fewer options" (how poignant is that of the new remade Singapore in general!), ST film-critic Ong Sor Fern asked: "Why isn't Kill Bill Vol.1 on video (in Singapore)?" (July 20, 2004). Unlike her, I don't even begin to wonder about that, rhetorically or otherwise. I just know. But then, she's the sort who actually states (as conclusion in her story) - "I never thought I would see the day when there would be a case for censorship." Woah! Far out. Where's her head been all this while? I guess we are talking about someone who's been living in a five-star bonus world of utter belief in the Remade system. How enviable, unlike those of us who saw enough through the sham of "more choice, fewer options" to simply think Amazon.com.
Oh lordy mama, look whose work was exhibited at the Singapore Art Museum - Pierre et Gilles! And so it has come to be for Singapore - Pierre et Gilles, with cocks and balls, hanging for all to see and finally recognised as art by the conservative Singapore establishment (some 20 years too late)! Anyway, can we now display that aesthetic photo-painting with the phallus in public - any place in public - since it's art? Eh, who's not ready? Those needing simple justifications? Pardon my newly acquired art-obsession to get Pierre et Gilles into the streets. It's all about being "with-it"! (My siow friend says: Whatcha goin' on about Pear and Jill for? It's R(A)-art, leh. Got such a thing 'cos this is Uniquely Singapore, mah.)
Big blurb on the front-page of The Sunday Times - "Forget Perth. Singaporeans retiring in China" (June 13, 2004). Don't you just love how retirement plans are made to look like they've got nothing to do with personal needs but everything to do with... economic peace for the good of all! And, in case you accuse me of repeating myself ever so often, "So at home in China" was the blurb for another ST story (some two weeks later on June 26, 2004) on a Singaporean who's so "bicultural, he's mistaken for a mainland-born Chinese." China in your hands, y'all, screamed left, right and centre; lest you didn't get the message. And since you're Singaporean, chances are your numb-skull didn't.
"It's about consumer safety" was the great rationale given by the Chief Justice who was quoted in the ST on July 9, 2004 on the court ruling in favour of damages awarded to TV-actress Andrea De Cruz for consuming a health-damaging slimming supplement. Ahhh, but then isn't the Govt. Watchdog in the least bit accountable? We simply wonder in silence, if at all we do! Of course, the Chief Justice said the Watchdog can't be held responsible for every slip-up in checks. Do we know that already, people? Don't we know, beyond undoubtable doubt, whose divine prerogative it is to make honest mistakes? I'm quite obsessed with prerogatives, I must admit. Otherwise, how to write these Files bankrupt-free?
One last question - if there's a Cheers for every 7-Eleven and an NTUC for every Cold Storage in our midst, why isn't there a Singapore answer to Ikea? (My siow friend says that's because with Ikea, it requires good taste and real style). And please, don't embarrass our nation by replying - yah, got Courts! Poor English, that's why!
Good enough an ass-saving retort for you there? You gotta hand it to me. I am, after all, shamelessly "heavy handed" with the Singapore obsession to butt-cover - and with self-(pre)serving justifications unlimited, of course. All hail to Supreme Kiasu-ism, the hidden specter of our nation's success. Just ask the man from Trade & Industry.
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