Public engagement must include the coffeeshop crowd. So here is the PM getting feedback from the nation’s heartlanders surrounded by cups of kopi-see or whatever poison of his choice…
Uncle, aunty! Hoh boh? Makan already?
Food expensive ah? Ya, I know. You know lah, how difficult for Singapore, food must buy from outside, everything must buy from outside. How to control price? But my people tell me won’t be so bad from now. Prices not going up so fast. Still high? Okay, I see what I can do. But you got your rebates right? Spend properly lah. Or eat at home. Oh. Got no time to cook…Your daughter leh? What is she doing? Oh. Working. No time to cook. No time to find boyfriend also…
What?! She don’t want to get married?! But she must! Tell her to find boyfriend fast, then she go get HDB flat. Flat cannot afford? Depends lah. Which location? Try three-room first. Anyway, my people coming up with something for people like her to get married and have babies. You want another grandson or not? Don’t want? Want to sit in coffeeshop all day with your kakis…. Alamak.
Your son how? Got job already? He say pay too low? So what he doing everyday? Oh. He go casino ah. Can afford the $100 to go in meh? You want me to ban him from going in? We can put him on this list so he cannot go in. What that’s the only way to make money? If not, he become ah long? Cannot. Cannot. Tell him to come see me.
What you mean no point? Companies hire only China people? Cannot be. We got quota. You tell me which company, I go get my people to chase. Yes. Yes. We trying to make sure not too many foreigners come. Don’t worry. But your son willing to work or not? Like that Ah Mei at that coffee stall there. I think she come from Guangzhou. Ah Mei is married to a Singaporean you know. Ah Mei, ni hou.
Wait, wait. Ah pek, your wife last week complain to me you got China girlfriend and your CPFmoney all go to her…Stop! Stop! Don’t go hit your wife! Sit down. Ah Mei, kopi-o kosong lai. (Eh, you, go translate. She doesn’t understand.)
You don’t like Indians also? Don’t be like that. You make that Shanmugam very unhappy. Oh. That’s why you take MRT out, don’t want to stay in the east all the time ah. Good. Good. Use public transport. No point take car. Oh….can’t afford COE ah. Anyway, public transport very good. You have to be patient lah, must wait for train a bit, squeeze a bit. Breakdown not that often. Anyway, these MRT people now very scared. Don’t worry. Next time, not so many breakdowns. Must give chance, trains getting old. Like you. You also cannot move so fast right?
Ah Tee, you have two sons right? In school already? Oh pre-school, good, good. PCF kindergarten? Okay what, why you want to move them to Montessori. You can’t even pronounce the name. Not true la. Facilities the same. Somemore, you kena pay so much more. Oh, you want your sons to play the violin ah. Okay, I see if PCF got violin lessons. Anyway, cheng hu will do something lah. You HDB people very important. Very important. Your sons will get into good primary schools, don’t worry. No. No, don’t have to rent flat next to Rosyth.
Encik, you walk to this kopi-tiam everyday ah? Good exercise. Oh, you also walk to polyclinic and hospital ah. How come? Diabetic. Cataract. High blood pressure….Aiyoh. You use your Medisave or not? You got Medishield or not? Oh. Cannot understand how to use ah. You go to hospital reception and ask. Cannot understand the Filippino nurse ah. Get your children to go with you.
What? Your sons moved to Batam? How come? Cheap house. You moving also???? Alamak.
Hello, Sir, do you come here often? Oh, for breakfast….good, good. And how is your family? Your daughter is an undergraduate…good, good. Son also ..good, good. Both studying overseas….good, good. What?! They want to stay over there? How come? Tell them we will always have good jobs here. Singapore is a vibrant city. Look at Gardens by the Bay! River taxis along Boat Quay, Robertson Quay, Clark Quay! Pandas at the zoo! It will be a good, even better life for them! They needn’t worry that they cannot afford to buy a car or private property. Start small. Start small. Oh, they want to start big, because they think they deserve it, after working so hard at their exams. Oh, your son’s gay…Your daughter? Single mother…Alamak.
Anyway, I have to chabot now. I have to go make my National Day Rally speech. About what? Oh, a national conversation about national identity and the country’s fundamentals. How to work for a better Singapore. What sort of Singapore we want. You know, a new national narrative.
Liak boh kiu?