Singapore National Education Part 16
I have also learned lately:
1. That we are asked to laugh _at_ Phua Chu Kang, that local sitcom about an Ah Beng (Western equivalent: redneck?) contractor, and his Ah Beng ways, but we are to laugh _with_ the Friends at Three Rooms, another local sitcom about allegedly funny but happening twentysomething wannabes who have their own apartment and hang out at swanky coffee joints.
2. That one day, we might have subtitles for local radio, so that we can understand what the thickly-accented deejays are saying in plain English.
3. That yes, we have to concede that our ministers' salaries are justified as they have done so much for our country, like the ERP, COE, Suzhou Investment Project, and great relations with well-loved and squeaky clean regimes like Myanmar.
4. That according to a Usenet film critic, in an inspired moment of local television, Michelle Goh, our sex kitten a la "Mee Pok Man" (check out her sequel "Mee Kia Girl"!), in a "Shiver" episode where she plays a starlet whose body and acting life is exchanged with another woman, says of her body-snatching rival, "That girl is making me look like an idiot! And she can't act!".
5. That according to the same critic, "Michelle Goh should only be in SILENT parts". With minimal clothing and acting required, I might add.
6. That Michelle Goh should work on her Thespian skills. No, gentle reader, it has nothing to do with sex.
7. That Home Affairs Minister Wong Kan Seng, in response to a reporter asking if the Government is asking Singaporeans to avoid Johor in the light of the massive jams, summed up a nation's feelings about our freedom of choice here in Singapore, when he said "We do not tell Singaporeans what to do".
8. That the epitome of Singapore's achievements is being toasted as Myanmar's best friend and staunch ally by the military junta there. Yippee.
9. That in a recent survey based on the question, "What is your personal opinion on eating meat?":
The Ethiopian answered, "What is 'meat'?"
The Rwandan answered, "What is 'eating'?"
And the Singaporean answered, "What is 'personal opinion'?
10. That it took an MRT Bishan Fiasco (20,000 commuters stuck when a works train could not be removed, and all train and human traffic had to be diverted during morning rush hour on a weekday) to make the authorities create a committee to think of contingency plan to deal with such incidents in the future. Yes, it is reassuring to know that now we will have a real Concept Plan if this should ever happen again. It shows the world that we have a World-Class Transportation System.
11. That it is easier to blame a lowly technician for the entire MRT Bishan Fiasco than it is for the relevant transportation and transportation ministry officials and politicians to stand up and take the heat for what was probably the single most embarrassing snafu of the MRT system we have ever seen.
12. That it took the combined brain power of the brilliant public officials we pay so well to come up with the Grand Plan to deal with the MRT Bishan Fiasco -- that was essentially to get 91 buses to converge at the one lonely Bishan MRT bus stop to pick up 20,000 stuck commuters and drop them _all_ off at one bus-stop at Newton MRT.
Never mind that it might have been better to send different buses to different stations all over the island.
Never mind that this created massive traffic jams at both Bishan and Newton.
Never mind if this created human bottlenecks at both stations.
13. That when our World-Class Transportation System works, there is no problem finding politicians to claim credit for it, even those from the obscure Ministry of Removing Dirt from Lamp Posts. But when a major disaster like the Bishan MRT Fiasco occurs, suddenly it is the fault of some technician and the company that runs the trains.
14. That when the CTE clears up after the brilliant strategy of making people pay ridiculously high charges to use it in the morning, the authorities waste no time in lauding their success. But when the MRT screws up big time and leaves 20,000 stranded, it's someone else's fault.
15. That now, after we have seen how wonderfully our million-dollar ministers can plan for something as major as the Bishan MRT Crises, we can trust them to solve our Nation's transportation problems. They are worth every cent.
16. That in Malaysia, they are thinking of banning car number plates that say "JEW". Whoever said that they are paranoid, insensitive or anti-Semitic must be mistaken. After all, they are the same people who banned the word "Morphin'" from "The Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers" because it sounded like "Morphine".
17. That as Mahathir says, he is not being Anti-Semitic, nor is he implying that the Jews have an agenda to subvert his country. But hey, George Soros is incidentally a Jew and Malaysia is incidentally a Muslim country, he says. So hey, I guess he is incidentally racist and anti-Semitic then. And the rest of the world is incidentally unconvinced.
18. That when people came up with the name "Singapore One" for the new islandwide computer network that will apparently save our economy, bring world peace and make the coffee, what they meant was that only "One" operating system will be supported (Windows') and "One" hardware platform will be usable on this network (Intel's). Some think that this is very "One" kind (So I am a Mac user with a serious axe to grind, so bite me).
19. That when your own Cabinet Minister says your airline needs to improve its service, the correct response is not to upgrade your service but to sue him for RM$80 million (S$40 million).
20. That this lawsuit may be a brilliant new form of raising revenue without the need to upgrade services.
21. That when the Government says they want to attract foreign talent, they probably don't mean the Chinese women who come to Singapore on student passes (presumably not to study in Raffles) and end up working in bars and pubs as escorts, looking for men above 55 with fat CPF accounts, poor self-esteem and a mid-life crisis.
22. That when TCS 5 tells us "5mile", it is the minimum distance we are to run when they show you another silly trailer ad nauseam infinitum.
23. That when TCS 5 says it is "5 on the Richter Scale", it is referring the amount of damage it can do to your TV leisure time.
24. That the department that runs the Trailers on TCS 5 has its headquarters on another planet.
- why they can show scenes on trailers for a whole week that will be censored from the final airing of the show (cf. The Nanny);
- why the wrong trailer can be shown for the _entire_ week (cf. Mad about You);
- why the trailer for an episode is shown immediately _after_ the episode airs (cf. Mad about You);
- why we need to see the trailers for a bad show so many times, as if we will somehow be convinced that it is worth watching if they interrupt and cut the shows we like to watch with these trailers.
25. That now, TCS has gone from censoring ongoing sitcoms for dubious reasons like squeezing in more ads, to starting a new sitcom on the third episode (cf. Spin City). Censorship has begun even before the series begins!
26. That in the light of my glowing reviews of TCS (but I do it only out of LOVE), I probably won't get invited to the next Star Awards.
Copyright 2004 by Lee Kin Mun