Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Stranger In A Strange Land

There's been a lot of discussion recently on why some people choose to leave Singapore for another country and who's to blame. Some say its the PAP Government's fault, while others feel we have only ourselves to blame. I have to admit I belong to the group that desires a life away from this island if given the chance. Why I feel life for me would be better elsewhere?

1. Life is tough here in the city, and its only going to get tougher. Living costs will continue to climb faster than my pay and the people in charge won't admit they don't have the solution or political will to solve the problem. And you can't vote them out.

2. Our nation's plan for a fulfilling life is A) the promotion of money worship and the pursuit of material goods. There is no plan B.

3. I am afraid of growing old here. I hear in some countries they treat old people with respect and dignity. Here, old people are seen as a problem, fully depreciated assets that cannot be discarded but continues to suck on national resources.

4. My country doesn't value my opinion. When I was living with my parents, I had no say in family decisions. I couldn't wait to move out and take control of my own destiny. Ditto here. There are just too many obstacles (perceived and real) if you want to be heard, even more so if your views are different from the people in charge. And you can't vote them out.

5. My country doesn't value my or anybody else's freedom. I don't think we will learn to accept the chaos that usually comes with individual freedom anytime soon. We are so intoxicated with our economic success that we are too afraid to live any other way.

6. I want a better life for my child. See points 1 to 5.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

The Evil That Man Breeds

John smith's ghastly comments offends me to the core. Read what he said at MrBrown here and here.

To suggest that "society should not have to shoulder the burden" of helping children with special needs if their parents chose to raise such a child, to me, defies the very nature of Humanity. This is not the brave new world or clockwork orange, mate. The logic of responsibility simply doesn't apply here. We, as civilised humans, should have a DUTY to help ALL who needs help. By Smith's, we should just ship all prisoners, drug addicts, disabled people, the elderly and the chronically ill to an island and let them rot there because, well, we didnt ask for it did we, so we shouldn't have to "shoulder the burden" of caring for them, right?
So you have cancer, sorry its because you smoked, no medicare for you. Diabettes? Who asked you to eat all that oily hawker food, no subsidy for you. You are old and have no money? Sorry we can't help you either because you brought it onto yourself by not saving enough while you were younger. Straight out the door you go, do not pass Go, do not collect $200.

If this the type of society you want to live in?

Being Paris

Liberty Leading The People by Eugene Delacroix, featuring the icon Marianne, who represents the spirit of France and a symbol of freedom and liberty.

Unlike Kitana, I have to admit that LHL's maiden speech is not my fav speech. In fact, I hate it, only because I think it serves as tacit evidence of confusion, incompatibility and contradiction in the LHL Government.

But this post isn't about that, its about Singapore being the "Paris of the East". Has anyone ever asked how we can be the "Paris of the East"? Certainly not by transplanting a Parisian cabaret in the middle of Clarke Quay. I certainly don't think aping another city (is this a city plan or a country plan anyway?) is the answer to our future.

I don't look forward to it. For starters, anyone who thinks that we can become Paris in his or her lifetime will be sorely disappointed. As cliché as this might sound, Paris, like Rome, did not become Paris in a day, not even a hundred years. And Paris certainly did not become Paris because of her roads or spanking new malls. So what makes Paris Paris? To me, she is great because she has layer after textured layer of History and Culture. Sit back and think about Paris and what comes to your mind? For me its~ crazy kings all named Louis, musketeers, men in white tights, wigs and face powder, women with moles, hunchbacks, Mona Lisa, baguettes, Grace Jones jumping off the Eiffel Tower, Napoleon, Da Vinci Code, Amelie, Nikita etc.. the exquisite memories wash over me. What about you?

Paris is a cultural tour de force, a culmination of hundreds of years of history, a history that was made by its people, young and old, rich and poor.

So, is Singapore on its way to become the Paris of the East? It would be a fallacy to think that "to be" Paris is a specific point in time and space to be reached, that when you get there, you can plant a flag and say "We are Paris! Eat your heart out Malaysia". It is what happens now, everyday from today, that paves the road towards Greatness, which is essentially what Paris represents.

So are we on our way to Greatness? Not by the looks of things. The policies and actions of the current Government sure aren't helping us get any closer. Will we ever get there? Not that any of us will ever know, because we will all be dust by then.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Snake Oil

Its nice to see a good rebuttal to a ridiculous argument (Straits Times, Andy Ho, 3 Mar 2007, Nude shots give gays wrong idea.). Ho's article reads suspiciously like a badly written proposal that was hurriedly made up to make a quick sale. There's a term in consulting circles that's used to describe something like this - smoke and mirrors.

Smoke and Mirrors
Trickery or deception, often in a political context

This expression to the performances of stage conjurers who use actual smoke and mirrors to deceive the audience. the figurative use that is now more common refers to the obscuring or embellishing of the truth that is employed by spin doctors and the like in order to deceive the general public. This later usage comes from the writings of American Jimmy Breslin. In his Notes from Impeachment Summer, 1975, Breslin twice refers to smoke and mirrors being used in the US political scene:

"All political power is primarily an illusion... Mirrors and blue smoke, beautiful blue smoke rolling over the surface of highly polished mirrors... If somebody tells you how to look, there can seen in the great smoke, magnificent shapes, castles and kingdoms, and maybe they can be yours... The ability to create the illusion of power, to use mirrors and blue smoke, is one found in unusual people."

Taken from The Phrase Finder

Similarly in local parlance, this is known as "bue ko yok", literally meaning "selling medicine". The Hokkien phrase, like smoke and mirrors, alludes to the traveling salesmen in the 70s who moved from village to village hawking wares of questionable nature, usually medicine that promised incredible benefits. The sales pitch typically happens at night, accompanied by gongs and martial arts performed by an athletic middle-aged man (think spears bent against bare throats), whom we were supposed to believe had been the beneficiary of the very medicine being sold.

So here we have Ho, whom we were told is a Ph.D holder, single and successful (I'm not sure if he's as successful in life as he is apparently at work, as I remember he wrote once about having had to throw a ring into a ditch after another unsuccessful pitch), the embodiment of the "perfect" male, performing acrobatic spin, telling us that banning Leslie Kee's Superstars was for the good of everyone, straight or otherwise.

The problem is, Ho and his buddies neigh high think they are still in the 70s, selling "ko yok" to ignorant villagers.