A Dozen Things/Events/People that defined Singapore in the Year 2014
1. Chewing over Jover Chew
(This Sim Lim Square retailer in the consumer watchdog’s blacklist made a tourist go on his knees for a refund. He packed up his shop and disappeared from sight, leaving in his wake questions about the adequacy of consumer protection laws)
There was a man called Jover Chew
We hope his kind are far and few
Too many people did he screw
All they can do is rant and rue
The day they met Jover Chew
What did he do, this Jover Chew?
He made people pay more than their due
So why not sue this Jover Chew?
He cannot be found
He’s made no sound
Or he’ll be skewered, ’tis true
Has Jover Chew started anew?
Selling his stuff before his lease is due?
He’s still in hiding, is Jover Chew
Under the radar, this cuckoo flew
He’s playing peek-a-boo
A man named Ricky has picked up his slack
Running the shop amid much flak
Oh what teeth our laws doth lack
To deal with a man like Jover Chew
Who made Sim Lim Square merchants black
Bad retailers will get their due
Lemon laws re-looked anew
Sim Lim Square merchants feeling blue
Customers are far and few
All because of Jover Chew
2. Little India COI
(A Commission of Inquiry was held to ascertain the causes of the Little India riot the year before, and to look at how the security forces handled the affair the night.
Multiple-choice test on miscellaneous info:
(Answers NOT provided)
1. Who is Tiffany?
a.The person who started the Tiffany chain of high class luxe goods
b. An SCDF officer who demonstrated courage under fire
c. A top model who goes by one name
2. What is Kingfisher?
a. A kind of bird
b. A type of beer
c. A gambling den chief
3. What is the meaning of “hold the ground’’?
a. When soccer players decide to play dead in the hope of “fouling’’ the other side
b. When police decide to play dead in the hope that everything will be normal soon
c. When fields are overgrown with weeds
4. How many police cameras are there now in Little India?
a. More than 50
b. More than 200
c. More than 500
5. Which law was enacted in the aftermath of the riot?
a. The Public Nuisance Act
b. The No Drinking/Gambling/Peeing Act
c. The Public Order Act
6. Did the South Asians riot because of pent-up frustrations over salaries and working conditions?
a. Yes, according to NGOs interviewed
b. No, according to foreign workers interviewed
c.Yes, no, maybe, no comment, don’t know, depending on who’s interviewed
- The widow’s fright
(A Chinese national who met a rich elderly widow while he was her tour guide moved into her bungalow, became her legal guardian and was named heir of her $40m estate. Yang Yin’s lasting power of attorney was later revoked and he is now facing criminal charges which also involve how he managed to obtain permanent residency here)
There was once an old lady who lived in a big house
She has no children, already lost her spouse
She got to know Yang Yin
Thought he was something
Then found out he’s really a louse
4. The house where Peter and Paul lived
(A book on a pair of homosexual penguins in the children’s section of the National Library became the focal point of a debate on values, the family unit, paternalism and censorship. News that copies of the book were to be pulped ignited protests by book lovers. The books were later placed in the adults’ section.)
Once upon a time, there were two penguins named Peter and Paul.
They lived in a book, on a shelf in the library.
They were a happy couple, minding their own business and playing happy family.
Then one day, someone found out where they lived and tried to blow their house down. Some people suggested setting them on fire, even pulping their remains
But these penguins had protectors. Knights formed up in battle array guarding their home. The other side blinked. Today, Peter and Paul are safe. They still live in their book, but moved to another shelf.
5. Manifesto of the Workers’ Party
(The opposition party’s management of the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East town council came under fire when it was revealed that one in three of its households were behind their service and conservancy fees. Despite insistent calls for answers by the ruling People’s Action Party, it steadfastly maintained that it would answer questions in due course)
We, the members of the Workers’ Party, pledge to tell the truth (in our own time)
With answers in full detail (after the Auditor General is done)
We give you our solemn pledge that we have not fiddled with numbers (and if it happened, it was an oversight)
That our finances are sound (this is a political party; not City Harvest church)
And that our town council is in tip top shape (we’ll continue to advertise for a managing agent)
Our residents are happy (because they don’t pay conservancy fees)
They like our style of management (because we are sympathetic)
So can everyone else please shut up and sit down.
6. To Singapore, with glove.
(Tan Pin Pin’s film based on interviews with Singapore exiles was deemed unsuitable for public viewing after the G determined that the exiles were re-writing history and whitewashing their own involvement. Revisionism became a point of contention on the eve of Singapore’s 50th anniversary)
Interviewee/Exile: I was never a communist. I was a socialist. Actually I was just a political party activist. Okay, I was on the losing side. I never advocated armed struggle and if anyone thinks I did, they must have been brainwashed. Or maybe I was the one who got duped. I don’t really know who was duping who. In any case, I love Singapore and left it because I feared for my life. I wanted to return but I knew I was on a watch-list and was afraid that I would be thrown into jail or worse, have to serve NS. It doesn’t matter what the Government says, winners after all, write history. Lee Kuan Yew has his story but this is my story. I’m sorry I can’t say anything more because I have been deemed unsuitable for public viewing. Nevertheless, I would like to invite you to Johor for a private meeting. Please do not bring your grandparents along. They might remember me.
7. White and pink on the Little Red Dot
(The annual Pink Dot celebration at Hong Lim Park organized by the LGBT community faced a challenge from pro-family and conservative groups who tried to counter the rise of the LGBT cause with a wear white campaign on the same day, reflecting increasing polarization between the two groups)
Two childhood friends meet in a coffeeshop.
PINK: Are you getting married today or going to the PAP convention?
WHITE: I suppose you’re going to Hong Lim Park..
PINK: Eh, Hong Lim Park is not the only place I hang out…
WHITE: So long as you and your friends don’t hang out with my children…
PINK: Where’s the wife? Ran off with another man? Or woman?
WHITE: Gone to stay with her parents…we’re getting divorced
PINK: Oh. I didn’t know. Sorry.
WHITE: That partner of yours still with you?
PINK: Yup. We’re getting married. In the States. But you must come for the reception here.
WHITE: Okay. Can you invite my wife as well? Thinking of how we can get back together.
PINK: Sure. Anything for a friend.
WHITE: I promise to wear pink.
PINK: I’m going to wear white.
8. Medishield Life: A bureaucrat’s take
(Concern over the healthcare needs of an ageing population and high numbers of un-insured led to a re-crafting of Medishield, the CPF-based national health insurance scheme.)
In view of higher life expectancies and the tendency of senior citizens to succumb to various illnesses with greater frequency, a new health insurance scheme will be introduced for all, including those who live forever. (See Appendix 1 on life expectancy and death rates for residents)
This will involve a complicated series of subsidies (Table 1) as well as varying premiums depending on age (Table 2) and household income (Table 3). (Please use attached calculator.)
Those who were un-insurable because they inherited their parents’ bad genes will now be covered by this new non-optional scheme, known as Medishield Life. (See Appendix 2 on congenital diseases)
Those with private health insurance should wait until further notice after which they will be advised to consult their respective insurers.
Those aged 65 and above will receive the greatest benefits, to acknowledge their pioneering efforts while they are still alive.
Those who are 64 and eleven months old will be considered for these medical perks on a case-by-case basis.
This policy is to assure Singaporeans of their healthcare needs throughout their life-time, although it is not our policy to guarantee an empty hospital bed when they need it.
9. Cleaning up pay matters
(Salaries of lower paid workers, such as cleaners and security guards, got a boost when the labour movement succeeded in pushing through a wage model of gradual increments based on productivity and scope of work for the two industries) .
Old Cleaner: Your pay got go up or not?
Older Cleaner 2: Got lah. Kiam kana. Just past four figures.
Old Cleaner : Training not hard right? Got to go for class on how to use broom and dustpan…How to work like robot…
Older Cleaner: Work with robot lah. We already work like robot.
Old Cleaner: Aiyah. At least something. Boss cannot anyhow pay us. Always say contract so small, cannot afford. Last time, boss didn’t even give me broom. I bring mine from home. Now company kena get licence.
Older Cleaner: You young people don’t complain lah. At least from now, you can always get more salary, can only go up. I get same salary for more than 40 years already. Clean office. Clean hawker centre. Clean void deck. All same salary.
Old Cleaner: Then how come you stay in the line for so long?
Older Cleaner: Because become dishwasher even worse
Emcee: Come on everyone!!!! It’s our 50th birthday! Sing, Singapore! Cheer, Singapore! Read the books! Catch the films! Watch the shows! Remember how we got from Third World to First! Make a baby! Get a fancy birth cert and baby pack! Get discounts – everyone’s getting in on the act! 50 per cent discount on our 50th birthday! 50 cents coffee! 50 different icons! 50 places we remember! 50 top companies! 50 beautiful people! 50 top hawker stalls! 50 other things that I am supposed to say but can’t remember….
11. A dummy’s guide on how to conduct protests
(Han Hui Hui, Roy Ngerng and a few members of the Return Our CPF lobby were accused of heckling a group of special needs children who were performing at Hong Lim Park. They are facing charges of staging an illegal protest. A separate group also launched a silent protest at a human rights forum which featured law professor Thio Li Ann, noted for her anti-LGBT sentiments.)
Protests are a manifestation of unhappiness, usually directed at the authorities or against an abhorrent cause. To conduct a good protest, please ensure that your level of unhappiness is equivalent to the size of your bravado. Fellow protestors must take the cue from a leader, who will instinctively emerge from the background because he or she has the loudspeaker or at least the loudest voice.
Please note that protests can take many forms. A hunger strike, a sit-in, an Occupy movement are all techniques that have been mastered over the years. Protests may also be loud or silent. A parade along public roads or blockade is not advisable. Besides the danger to personal liberty because of police action, the economic consequences could be dire if people do not get to work on time. (Please note that the train service may not be reliable.)
A loud protest is recommended especially for Speakers’ Corner at Hong Lim Park. This is because speaking, shrieking and screaming are essentially the same thing. It is best to launch your protest when someone else’s crowd is present. This will win you converts to your cause or at the very least, scare children.
A silent protest is best indoors, especially for the benefit of the intellectual and the erudite. Placards can be used in lieu of voice, to be held prominently lest they are mistaken as graffiti by vandals. Use CAPITAL letters to emphasise your points.
*Protest Inc wishes you all the best in your next protest. Please burn this booklet after reading.
12. A grass cutter’s lecture
(The state of the grass field in the National Stadium in the new Sports Hub became a national issue when sportsmen complained about the sandiness and uneven-ness of the pitch. International soccer players panned it, and events there were stopped or postponed to let the grass grow, at least till a decision is made on what to do with the turf.)
Please note that there are many types of grass. Some are greener, especially on the other side. Some are like lallang. Some are like carpet grass, like the sort you see on landed property. But guess what, we can all step on grass – unless there are signs which say “cannot’’ or the kind that you smoke.
The National Stadium grass, therefore, must be special. Right temperature. Right sunlight. Right rain. Grass must not only be for people to step on, but also to run on and fall on. Maybe also jump up and down on so that people can see singers on high stage. So it must be good grass, imported or hybrid or home grown. People are also talking about dead grass. Maybe plastic, rubber or synthetic. The main thing is, it must be green. Anyway, someone has decided that we should grow grass, and then re-plant. So I am no longer a grass-cutter. I am now a grass grower.
Go to http://www.thesmartlocal.com/read/singapore-in-2014 for the visual version!