I thought that first Singapore Conversation session threw up an interesting way of looking at what sort of country we want: by putting up newspaper headlines people would like to see. That’s good because a headline is a “bottomline’’, the chief point that encapsulates what the article is about. So rather than having to articulate the problem in our inarticulate way, discuss a million solutions and get tangled up in the whys and wherefores, let’s just get to the point of what we want.
So here’s my non-exhaustive list of headlines of the future with a brief a summary of what the news is about, with tongue only half in cheek.
HD: ITE student is President’s Scholar
Chin Jia Gou, 19, hails from the Normal (Technical) stream of Kampung Kana Secondary School, didn’t take his O levels but went on to ace the electrical and mechanical engineering examinations of the Institute of Technical Education. The only son of duck rice stall owner Chin Jia Cham is also an under-18 national soccer player who led the team into the World Cup finals for juniors. He credits his secondary school discipline master for getting him to knuckle down to study. “He shaved my head bald when I turned up for exams with tinted hair,’’ said Jia Gou who will also make history as the first President’s Scholar to opt for study at a local university. “My parents saved on a haircut but I was so psychologically scarred that I stayed at home and started studying.’’
HD: Repealed: Maintenance of Parents Act
Parliament has decided to do away with legislation that compels children to pay for their parents’ upkeep, after the watchdog tribunal reported zero applications over the past three years. MPs on both sides of the House supported the move, long considered a blot on the nation’s conscience. Minister How Hai Zhi said that the tribunal would now turn its attention to dealing with errant parents who pressure their children unreasonably to do well in school. “Too many tuition classes, enrichment programmes will rob the children of their childhood,’’ he said as he gave details of how children from the age of five can apply to have their parents reprimanded. “Caning is being considered,’’ he added.
HD: Netizen, name thyself
One million members of Singapore’s internet community have signed a pledge to be “transparent and open’’ when they post comments online. This will start with posters giving their full names instead of relying on email handles like imsexy and cannotdoit. Ms Ai Am Mee, who is spearheading the move, said that netizens should stand up and be identified or sit down and shut up. “Why be such cowards?’’ she said. “You can still be as vulgar, extreme and as racist as you want. Nobody says you have to control what you say. You just have to give your name.’’ She said one idea was to also have netizens post their ages, addresses, occupations, race, language, religion, household income, housing type, marital status and sexual orientation but thought that this was too much personal detail that could be exploited by telemarketeers.
HD: 100,000 Singaporeans return home
Singaporeans the world over have heeded the call of home and are returning in droves to power the nation’s economy and raise citizen numbers. Sources say that half of the 200,000 living and working abroad are uprooting themselves to solve the chronic manpower shortage here and solve the social problems of having too many foreigners. Drawn by housing vouchers and priority school places, they are trading their big homes, cheap cars and relaxed lifestyle to live in studio apartments, squeeze into buses and trains and join the rat race for Singapore to be No. 1. One of them, Mr Goh Bak Ken, 42, an investment banker based in Darwin, Australia, said he was going home for the food. “I mean, have you tasted the Hokkien prawn mee here?’’
HD: Housing vouchers for all
The hot property market’s lukewarm response to cooling measures have prompted the Government to propose giving every Singaporean a housing voucher once they hit 25. This one-time voucher will be distributed to all regardless of whether they are married, to appease singles who clamour for the same treatment as married couples. It will also assuage those who claim they are forced into buying private property because they do not qualify under the income criteria. A Housing Board spokesman said singles can choose to combine the vouchers and apply for a flat jointly. Those who do not want to live in public housing can also choose to donate the vouchers to those who do. Mr Tie Koon Kin, 60, a property developer , said this move signalled the death knell of the private property market unless it was matched with offers such as free renovation, furnishings and a luxury car.
HD: PM is GOH at gay function
After years of being sidelined, the gay community was finally accepted as part of the mainstream community when the Prime Minister graced its fund raising dinner last night. The PM told reporters he was glad to be part of an effort to raise money for orphaned children, including Jia Jia and Kai Kai. Clad in a long-sleeved pink shirt, he said he did not adhere to the function’s dress code as he did not own a pink V-necked tee-shirt. It was also because he did not want to encourage too many people to come out of the cabinet, he added.