So on Sunday, in a shameless bid for validation, I asked readers to 'complain' about my column just so I can get some indication that people are reading it.
I received nine e-mails. Thanks for playing along. Here are some of the e-mails.
Dear Mr Ong,
I read your column today, as with every other Sunday. The reason why I am emailing this to you is not to complain, but to let you know that I actually have vague memories of reading the two-year-old article that you mentioned in today's column.
Your wit and sense of humour is truly one-of-a-kind and I look forward to reading your column every week! :)
Dear Senior Minister Ong,
Why did you write "great minds think similarly" when it should be "great minds think alike" in your The New Paper on Sunday column on the 3rd November 2013?
But I have no right to dictate that you follow strict rules, because you know, freedom of expression and all that...
I do read your articles, but not every week. Because sometimes you're just not that funny.
Here's an advanced Happy 5th of November!
Dear mr Ong.
Let me start off by saying I no longer purchase the new paper.
Have not bought a copy in years. Even when I did buy it everyday it was mainly to read the sports pages. Now I get my daily fix online.
My father still buys the paper everyday though. So once in a while I will read tnp. For old times sake.
And in these rare moments that I have the paper and some spare time. I always come away with the impression that you're a funny writer. A different style to your colleague Mr Neil Humphreys. But to me, funny nonetheless.
Just sending you some love to let you know your act blur columns are appreciated. Take the lack of compliments you might not be receiving as a good sign. Hey it could be worse you know. You could have been really flooded with complaints.
Hope this gets to you and brightens your day.
Sent from Samsung Mobile
Dear S M Ong
When I have not been forced to read your column, I have on occasion (2 of them) found it mildly amusing. However I must protest vehemently regarding today's article. Your hyperbole and exaggerations are simply ridiculous, especially regarding the assertion that no one reads your column! I can attest to at least 2 people reading your comments today.
I, myself, was reading it in a local coffee shop along with a 'kaypoh' uncle who seemed to be enjoying it from over my shoulder. Additionally a third man requested if he may read it in the rest room although the coffee shop auntie later told me that the toilet had run out of toilet paper so the third reading can not be confirmed.
Your assertion that 'V' for Vendetta has not had a sequel because of Natalie Portman is utter nonsense. It is common knowledge that there has been no sequel due to the fact that Hugo Weaving has turned into a werewolf in the Wolfman, making him unavailable for any work baring another Twilight movie.
Why o why would you want a holiday to remember Guy Fawkes? This man was a complete fool. Anyone knows that there is so much hot air coming out of the British Parliament that all he would have needed to do would be to light a match and the whole building would have been blown to smithereens.
As for Groundhog Day - for goodness sake! In the case of Singapore, it is always Groundhog Day - sleep, eat, work, eat, sleep. There would be a holiday for 365 days every year!
One of the reasons that I have kept reading your articles is that I always hoped you would mention what the S M stands for. My guess is Siu Mei after your mother's favourite dish. I had initially thought it was So Macho but having read about your Army Days I soon dropped that thought.
However, I feel I can help you. There are a number of factors that have conspired against you.
You are now on the back page. This is not good. People turn to the back page for sport, so when they see your face they immediately curse you, utter expletives and search out the sport pages - never to return!
Alternatively people who start from the front of the paper reach the sports pages and stop, so they probably don't even know you exist. A solution here would be to put your column in the middle of the sports pages, say between Kaki Iain Macintosh and Gary Lim. Your views on sex, vice, corruption and infidelity would be half read until readers would realise that it was not about sport. Oh!.. hang on a minute.
It is unfortunate that your column is juxtaposed with that of Neil Humphreys - as you have surely heard the saying 'Ang Moh's spoil the market'. I understand he is so tall that he is on stand-by if weather balloons fail. I think you have to agree that he is very funny and stiff competition for you. However given his height and that he supports West Ham, a terrific sense of humour is a prerequisite.
Competition can come from many areas. Take the parents' of Oxide Pang for example - fantastic sense of humour! Just be grateful they don't apply for your job. By the way, does Oxide have any children? If he does I guarantee they would be called Nitrous, Carbon Di and Per.
In order to vastly increase your readership you need to focus on market forces. There are 2 ways in which you can do this.
1 Write on a topic that all Singaporeans will read - food! You can't go wrong. Be the male version of the 'Hed Chef'. You could call your column 'Ong's Pong - cuisines and dishes involving durians, cheese and rotten eggs. You could be Singapore's Gordon Ramsey!
2 If all else fails, go back to what you are brilliant at, something that has made you a household name (well within your own family anyway) and something for which you will always be remembered. That's right, write some more episodes of Phua Chu Kang. I understand that the very first episode cured thousands of insomnia in Singapore, JB and some say Batam
JUST in case you weren't joking in your column
I read it
Now that SPH has taken away Calvin and H, your column is the only reason I read TNP on Suns
I know you got to be supportive of colleagues. But I find expats who try to be local simply pathetic
He tries too hard And I get irritated
Whereas your column, I id with at once
I would say 'keep up the good work' But that makes me sound like my teachers and principals, few of whom I have much fondness of
0k, my Pri 1 teacher - perhaps
I think it's highly under-rated - the ability to make a bunch of illiterates know how to read and add (Mine was from a long time ago, when the Pri 1 teacher was my first encounter with education)
I think you write very well - you are able to put in so many seemingly different items into one connected piece. I am upgrading my vocabulary and my knowledge through your pieces as well.
Halloween is even more popular than our local seventh month, not just Deepavali...I wonder why (am also trying to act blur)...now I also know Guy Fawkes Day is Nov 5, thanks to you.
You are probably the first to ask for feedback. Usually, when I write, the receiver does not even respond, so I really don't know whether it was received.