24 May 2015

I was stunned like vegetable by Deputy PM Tharman Shanmugaratnam



Two years ago, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said something to me and I totally missed it.

I had joined the 10km Jurong Lake Run, which Mr Tharman was flagging off since he’s the Member of Parliament for Jurong GRC.

As he made his way to the podium to flag off the race, he shook hands with a few out of the thousands of runners waiting at the start line. I was one of the lucky few — except I wasn’t so lucky.

I didn’t see him coming and was startled when I suddenly felt someone grabbing my hand. I turned and was stunned like vegetable to see who it was.

Mr Tharman said something to me that I couldn’t hear because I had my earphones on. I only saw his mouth move. All I heard was Weird Al Yankovic or whatever that was playing on my iPhone at that moment.



Then his mouth stopped moving and Mr Tharman looked at me like he was waiting for me to say something.

I did what anyone else would do in that situation — I pretended I heard what he said and just nodded dumbly.

He looked at me somewhat alarmed, like I was the craziest person he had ever met, and quickly moved on to shake hands with less psychotic individuals.

That was when I took off my earphones, but it was too late. He was gone.

I will never know what he said to me, to which a nod was evidently an inappropriate if not deranged response.

Damn you, Weird Al Yankovic!

Why didn’t I take off my earphones immediately instead of being stunned like vegetable?

I’ve regretted my slow reaction ever since but more so last week when I saw the YouTube video of a recent interview with Mr Tharman at the St Gallen Symposium in Switzerland.

The video was shared by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Facebook and many were impressed by Mr Tharman’s poised performance.


Last week, DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam spoke of the Singapore “trampoline” at the 45th St. Gallen Symposium in...
Posted by Lee Hsien Loong on Sunday, May 17, 2015


I suppose I must have heard him speak on TV before, but until that video, I never realised Mr Tharman had such a sonorous Barry White voice and a mellifluous, neutral enough accent that didn’t sound too out of place as he fielded questions from glib British host Stephen Sackur.

At one point during the interview, Sackur said to Mr Tharman: “To some of our sensitive flowers in the West, the authoritarianism that underpins that approach to managing a society feels uncomfortable.”

I googled “sensitive flowers” and got the mimosa plant, which can also be found in Singapore.



When Mr Tharman talked about the British press, Sackur, who also hosts the BBC programme, HARDtalk, said: “You are missing page three of the Sun newspaper and that’s a great loss, I agree.”

I was disappointed that at that moment, Sackur didn’t whip out a copy of the Sun newspaper and show Mr Tharman the naked female breasts on page three, just to see how our DPM would react.

My guess is Mr Tharman wouldn’t snigger like I would.

And snigger I did when I heard Mr Tharman say later in the video: “Singaporeans are, probably more than other societies, broadband-penetrated.”

Hey, who doesn’t enjoy being broadband-penetrated?

But Sackur was just getting warmed up. When Mr Tharman gave an answer that Sackur didn’t like, the host interrupted: “I believe in the sometimes simplicity of yes or no answers.”

If I were Mr Tharman, my response would be: “Have you stopped beating your wife, Mr Sackur? Yes or no answer only, please.”

Not that Mr Tharman didn’t get in a few rejoinders of his own.

When Sackur asked if Singapore believed in “the notion of a safety net”, Mr Tharman replied: “I believe in the notion of a trampoline.”

Sackur retorted: “So people are just bouncing up and down in Singapore.”

Yes, we’re all suddenly members of Cirque du Soleil.



Near the end of the interview, when Mr Tharman mentioned that China has “created a culture of accountability”, Sackur interjected: “Really? I’m slightly baffled by that.”

Mr Tharman said: “We can come back to that if you want to.”

Sackur said: “We don’t have time. We can talk more about China and accountability over coffee, but we can’t do it now.”

I’m sorry, but I can’t picture Mr Tharman and Sackur meeting at Starbucks and discussing world affairs over a couple of Ariana Grandes.



At least Sackur managed to use actual words with Mr Tharman, which is more than I can say for myself.

Hmmm, I wonder... did the minister ask me a yes-or-no question in 2013 and I didn’t hear it?

I hope the question wasn’t whether I had stopped beating my wife because a nod would’ve definitely be the wrong response.

It would explain a lot though.

- Published in The New Paper, 24 May 2015



17 May 2015

Let's think about improving government videos about foreign workers

Last week, the Singapore Government released a series of videos with the tagline “Let’s think about it”.

At least, I assume it’s the Singapore Government since the YouTube videos were uploaded by “govsingapore” and look like they have been produced by committee.

They’re not good enough to go viral like the Jurong Point Mother’s Day video and not intentionally bad enough to go viral like the Un-Un-Unbelievable music video.

I would like to offer some suggestions to help improve the three government videos.




TITLE Then What Are You Complaining About?

DESCRIPTION

The video shows a married couple seated in a crowded bus presumably on their way to work.

Another passenger walks by and bumps into the shoulder of the husband, who gets annoyed and starts complaining in Mandarin that it’s crowded everywhere you go.

He says: “I think there are just too many foreigners in Singapore.”

Then the wife says the weirdest thing: “Our home is crowded too. Aren't you forgetting Floridel who’s busy taking care of our kids?”

Husband replies: “I’m not talking about our domestic helper.

“Or bus drivers. Or cleaners. Or restaurant staff. Aiyah!”

The video ends after he whines: “You know, my colleague’s contract is ending soon. He’ll be sent back to India. My boss will definitely ask me to take over his work.”

This is meant to show the irony of him complaining about too many foreigners in Singapore and yet he is upset that his foreign colleague is leaving.

Unfortunately, what it really shows me is that the husband has bigger issues at work than foreigners. If I were his boss and I saw this video, I would probably fire his ass for his poor work attitude.

MY IDEA

In the first place, how crowded can the bus be if the couple found a seat?

And not just for one of them, but for both of them, side by side.

For any rush-hour commuter, that’s like finding a unicorn.

To really show overcrowding on public transport, the couple could be on an MRT train that’s so packed, the wife is accidentally pushed out and her leg slips into the platform gap.



That’s when the husband can start complaining that there are too many foreigners in Singapore.




TITLE Now Even The Boss Has To Work

DESCRIPTION

The video shows a homeowner on the phone, asking for his air-conditioner to be repaired that day.

At the other end of the line, an Ah Beng type says he can only do it next week due to the lack of manpower, blaming the Government for its “hiring quota for foreign labour”.

The homeowner says: “Singapore so hot. How you expect me to survive one week without aircon.”

Ah Beng replies: “What to do? Singaporeans complain too many foreigners. So Government send them back lah!”

The punchline comes when the homeowner says: “Like that, I think I must get two aircons. One just to stand by.”

I have one word for him — fans.

MY IDEA

I understand the lack of air-conditioning can be an emergency for some Singaporeans, but it’s not dire enough.

Instead of a mere broken air-conditioner, the homeowner could be calling to complain that because of a choked pipe, his newly renovated flat is covered with shit like what happened in Punggol last week.



Never mind surviving one week without aircon. Try living one day with faeces on your floor.

Even fans won’t help.




TITLE
What Matters Is That We Do A Good Job

DESCRIPTION

The video shows a boy and a girl discussing what they want to do when they grow up.

The girl says she wants to be a lawyer and “make lots of money”.

The boy says he’ll be a banker and make more money than her.

Bursting his bubble, the girl says: “My papa says all the top banking jobs are going to foreigners.”

Unfazed, the boy says: “My papa says as long as you have the right attitude, you will always have the chance to succeed!

“Singaporeans or foreigners does not matter.”

He even offers to hire the girl to be his lawyer when he becomes the boss.

MY IDEA

Why wait till he becomes a boss to hire a lawyer?

The boy could make his own YouTube video and be on trial for electronically transmitting an obscene image and uploading content that contained remarks against Christianity.

Just don’t expect the girl to work pro bono.

She wants to make lots of money.

Kids today...

- Published in The New Paper, 17 May 2015

16 May 2015

In tweets: Amos Yee apologises to Vincent Law... or not?





































































So in the recent weeks I've been bombarded with many questions about Amos Yee in regards to my father, Vincent Law."...
Posted by Francis Micah Law on Saturday, May 16, 2015


I just heard from my mother, that Vincent called her, and said that I should go back to jail, and seek psychiatric...
Posted by Amos Yee on Saturday, May 16, 2015

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