10 June 2015
To mourn or celebrate? Kinabalu tragedy versus SEA Games medals
Friday was the opening ceremony of the SEA Games in Singapore. On the same day, the Sabah earthquake happened.
This resulted in a bipolar Straits Times front page the next day with the headline "Sabah quake: 8 S'pore kids, 2 teachers missing" and a giant picture of fireworks below it.
So was ST telling us to be concerned about the missing Singaporeans or happy about the SEA Games?
The two emotions sort of cancelled each other out.
Of course, by now, we know that eight Singaporeans have died in the quake, six of them schoolchildren from Tanjong Katong Primary School (TKPS). Two people are still missing. (UPDATE: Their bodies have been found.) It's a national tragedy.
But the Games must go on.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong declared Monday a Day of National Remembrance for those killed in the quake and that "one minute of silence will be observed at the beginning of the day at all SEA Games venues", thus conflating the two major news events of the day.
This gave ST the opportunity to make up for the awkward earlier front page with a great front page photo yesterday of players observing a minute of silence before the Singapore-Cambodia football match and spectators holding up signs that said "Prayers for TKPS" in the background.
In a way, that minute of silence gives us permission to enjoy the rest of the SEA Games even as we mourn the quake victims.
And by dedicating their wins to the quake victims and their families, the athletes also help alleviate some of the guilt.
But that doesn't make it any less weird to see on my Facebook news feed celebratory stories about Singapore's medal tally in between heartbreaking stories of those who perished on Mount Kinabalu.
It got me wondering, what if Mr Lee Kuan Yew had died just before the SEA Games? Would the Games be cancelled?
I know a number of events, like a Heartland Chingay Parade, were cancelled or postponed after Mr Lee's death in March, though none of them were as big as the SEA Games.
I think LKY's death was also the last time flags were flown at half-mast until the Kinabalu tragedy.
But to compare Mr Lee to the eight quake victims would be inappropriate. All life is precious. More so than medals.
Not that I'm advocating that the SEA Games should be cancelled or postponed. It would be like trying to stop a speeding non-MRT train. I mean, the organisers have already produced an album of SEA Games songs and everything.
Plus, you know, SG50. The people like their BreadTalk and circuses.
So my sincere condolences to the families and friends of quake victims.
And also... uh... go, Team Singapore?
TRENDING POSTS OF THE WEEK
Zoe Tay said she was “just sexy”, and that men love her and women hate her. I can’t speak for women, but as a man, I don’t exactly love...
Halimah Yacob did not delete info about Indian descent on Wikipedia page because it's still there unless it has been deleted againOn Wednesday, The Independent Singapore speculated: Did Halimah Yacob delete info about Indian descent from Wikipedia page ? The short ...
It’s like 1996 all over again. Only instead of the Macarena , we’re dancing Gangnam Style . Instead of watching the White House get bl...
I first met Darryl David at Gurmit Singh's wedding dinner in 1995. David's date was a woman named Lynette Pang , who was a stag...
Lately, I've been noticing the recurring use of an unfamiliar word on social media. Aisey. Posted by SMRT Ltd (Feedback) on Wedne...
Toggle has reported that actress Carole Lin has given birth to her first child: Despite being told by a gynaecologist that conceiving at ...
Two years ago, when celebrity radio deejay Glenn Ong revealed that he was dating fellow MediaCorp deejay Jean Danker after splitting fro...
It started with this Cyberpioneer Facebook post: What does Military Expert (ME) 1 Clarie Teo enjoy, when she is not busy keeping ship eng...
Someone once said: “Learn from history or you're doomed to repeat it.” I think it was George Santayana , the late Spanish writer and...
Dear Jem, Congratulations on your opening yesterday. Four days late. Wink, wink. Just between you and me, the delay was intentiona...