Monday, 12 November 2018

Goh Chok Tong in new book: Lee Kuan Yew wanted a nudist colony on Sentosa

“Really?” I said incredulously.

I had searched the Kinokuniya bookstore in Jem for Tall Order: The Goh Chok Tong Story but couldn’t find it. The woman at the Kinokuniya information counter said it was sold out. I couldn’t believe it.

This was on Saturday. Wasn’t the book by Peh Shing Huei officially launched just two days earlier?

I mean, we’re talking about a book about Singapore’s second Prime Minister here and despite the glasses, not Harry Potter.

“Really?” I repeated for emphasis.

The woman chuckled and said the book should be restocked by Monday.

But that would be too late for me.

I needed the book to write about it in this column you’re reading now, which comes out on Monday, i.e. today, so I couldn’t wait.

But I didn’t tell her all that. I just headed for the Popular bookstore in neighbouring Westgate mall. After fighting my way through the crowd at Westgate for the Spotlight opening, I found the book at Popular.

Fortunately, unlike Kinokuniya, Popular had dozens of copies.

And they were not displayed on the Fiction shelf like in the picture posted online by Mr Brown.

He wrote: “Someone shelved Lao Goh’s book under Fiction. I wonder if the bookseller knows something we don’t.”

How dare Mr Brown refer to our esteemed Emeritus Senior Minister as “Lao Goh”?

Surely, the Government will request that Facebook take down the post – a request which Facebook will reject.

Instead, Lao Goh, I mean, Mr Goh shared Mr Brown’s post with a quip: “Bookshop knows that fiction sells better than memoirs.”

“Hahaha!” Mr Brown responded, possibly out of relief that he was not going to be exiled like Francis Seow or Tang Liang Hong mentioned in the book.

As it turns out, Mr Goh also provides a few “Hahaha” moments in the book amid the not-so-funny recollections of Operation Spectrum and the Hendrickson Affair.

For example, he wrote in the Afterword:
“As an aside, Lee Kuan Yew was more liberal than we think. Or more practical. When the tourism sector was down, he floated the idea of a nudist colony in Sentosa or an offshore island to bring them in! The younger ministers vetoed him.”
Was that how we ended up with casinos instead? We don’t mind foreigners coming here to gamble and lose their shirts – but not literally.

Commenting on his relationship with Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Mr Lee Hsien Loong, Mr Goh wrote:
“How did I succeed as a ‘Goh-between’? It was because father and son did not ‘sandwich’ me.”
I’m not sure what that means. Uh... they didn’t put him between two slices of bread?

Earlier in the book, Mr Goh also called himself “a lubricant” between the two Lees and it wasn’t nudist-related.

For a book costing the ministerial sum of $39.59, I had expected his whole life story, but Tall Order ends with Mr Goh becoming PM in 1990. I guess that’s why it says Volume 1 on the cover.

Presumably, the next book will be about his PM years and like the sequel to the Guardians Of The Galaxy movie, will be called Volume 2.

Luckily, I didn’t pay full price for the book. My wife is a Popular member and I got a 20 per cent discount. I saved almost $8. That may not seem like much to some, but it sure ain’t peanuts to me.

Yes, really.

- Published in The New Paper, 12 November 2018

Monday, 29 October 2018

Whoops! Am I a cyberbully? It's a Syn (Media Literacy Council not very media-literate)

I think I may be a cyberbully.

At least that’s what the Media Literacy Council (MLC) has led me to believe.

Last Thursday, MLC posted on Facebook a series of illustrations for parents under the heading “Signs your child is a cyberbully”.

The first sign is “He/she quickly switches screens or closes programs when you walk by”.

Oh, no. That’s what I do whenever my wife walks by while I’m watching a Blackpink video.

The second sign is “Laughs excessively while using the computer”.

Oh, no. That’s what I do sometimes during a Blackpink video.

The third sign is “Get unusually upset if he/she cannot use the computer”.

Oh, no. That’s what happens to me when my wife bans me from using the computer because I watch too many Blackpink videos.

I’m a cyberbully!

But the council’s Facebook post was criticised for being “simplistic” and “disconnected from internet culture”.

One commenter wrote:
“For something called the media literacy council you guys aren’t very literate in new media hahaha. Confirm run by old uncles and aunties who pretend that they understand youths but don’t. Better ask ah boy or ah girl to teach you how to book on the facebooks and gram on the instagrams.”

A little history. The MLC was formed in 2012 by the Government to “actively develop public education programmes that will help the public navigate media, especially the Internet, safely and responsibly”.

But last week, instead of MLC educating the public about the Internet, it seemed the public was educating the MLC.

In response to the comments, the senior citizens of the council posted a mea culpa of sorts on Friday:
“WHOOPS! We’ve heard you. Our post meant to give generic examples to describe a cyber-bully, but we should have probably included some specific descriptions in the post. We’ll follow up on this asap!”

That wasn’t well received either.

Someone commented:
“Still reads like someone doesn’t want to fully admit how incorrect the post was, and tries to make it a ‘joke’ to save face.”
But more importantly, what I want to know is – am I a cyberbully or not?

Confession: The MLC post is not the only reason I think I may be a cyberbully.

Anyone remember Mr Cuthbert Syn? Probably not.

Three years ago, he became famous (or infamous) after a picture of him in a Reserved seat on the train went viral.

Asked to give up his seat to a woman carrying a baby, he refused and reportedly said: “It’s my choice and I’m tired after work.”

He later explained to The Straits Times: “I’m usually a shy person who will give up his seat to those in need. But I had worked late and was feeling tired and unwell last night.”

Vilified online, Mr Syn was also mocked for his weight and receding hairline.

So I wrote an article in The New Paper that said it was wrong to fat-shame and bald-shame the man.

That was in 2015.

Last year, I was taken aback to see an e-mail in my inbox with the subject line: “Letter of Demand - To remove article on website”.

It was from Mr Syn.

He wrote:
“I would want the article to be removed immediately. As this has caused me a lot of distress since 2015, especially when I am unwell due to a heart disease.

Under the Protection of Harassment Act (POHA), your article is an offence.

Legal action will be taken if the article is not removed.”
Wait, what?

In the first place, it had been two years since he went viral. No one is interested in reading about him any more. He was old news.

Second, my article was actually kinda defending him. And this was the thanks I got?

Third, even though my article can no longer be found online, other articles about him abound on the web, including The Straits Times report I mentioned earlier.

Last and not least, why bring up the Protection from (not “of”) Harassment Act? The 2014 law was designed to make cyberbullying a criminal offence.

Was I cyberbullying Mr Syn?

Or was he the one cyberbullying me by threatening legal action?

MLC is no help.

I wish my wife would let me use the computer so that I can Google for more information and definitely not watch any more Blackpink videos.

Fortunately, I still have my iPhone. Jisoo is so pretty, even on the smaller screen.

- Published in The New Paper, 29 October 2018

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

NUS goes strawless (and to protest, someone on NUS Whispers claims to have bought 1,000 straws just to throw them away )

It's not just KFC and Burger King.

Last week, the National University of Singapore (NUS) announced to students and staff:
With effect from 17 October 2018, the drink stalls at the canteens, food courts and selected F&B outlets/restaurants will no longer be giving out plastic straws. This will be replaced with paper straws on demand. We encourage you to go straw-free or bring your own reusable straws to help us care for the environment. Paper straws will still be made available on demand if there is a need.
More than a week later, people on NUS Whispers are still divided on whether the plastic straw ban is a good idea:

One thousand camels' back broken?


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