Saturday 1 January 2022

I’m interviewed on CNA: On The Red Dot Reunions: Phua Chu Kang Pte Ltd

I'm in this CNA programme, which brought back the cast of Phua Chu Kang Pte Ltd for a reunion and to talk about the show, which ended in 2007. There were previous reunion episodes for Under One Roof, Growing Up and Singapore Idol.

CNA interviewed me in November (separately from the PCK cast).

I haven't watched it because I can't stand to see myself on screen, but I'm told I don't appear that much in the programme, which first aired last night on New Year's Eve.

Monday 13 December 2021

No more New Paper in print, no more column

Last Friday was the last print edition of The New Paper after 33 years.

When the staff were first told about it in July, I was surprised and devastated. I was content to do what I was doing at TNP until I die – or forced to retire.

I started working there in February 2008. That’s 13 consecutive years, which is by far, my longest stretch of working at the same place. Before that, my longest was around four years at Mediacorp. Twice.

After working in television for so long, joining TNP was like going back to my roots.

I had studied journalism at the University of Wisconsin and worked at a student newspaper there as a writer and page layout artist.

I discovered that it was important to me how my articles showed up on the page. I get very upset when the headline doesn’t accurately represent what I wrote.

What many readers don’t realise is that the headline is not usually written by the same person who writes the article.

Which is ironic since many people just read the headline without reading the article and associate the byline with the headline which the writer didn’t write.

So although I set out to be a writer, I became involved in the so-called backend of the newspaper.

And it evolved such that I started doing more backend stuff than writing.

When I first joined TNP, it was as a sub-editor/columnist, but as the years went by and I re-contracted, the “columnist” part of my job title was dropped even though I still wrote the column.

My main job was as a sub-editor. At first, I did some copy-editing which I dislike, but later, mostly just did layout, which was more my jam.

More importantly, I got to lay out my own column and write my own headline.

I didn’t get a regular column right away. My first piece for TNP as a full-timer was about the Mas Selamat escape, for which I was accused of being an apologist for the Government. That was when I learnt firsthand that readers would imagine nefarious motivations and conspiracy theories behind things they see in the paper. Since I wrote the damn thing, I know the only thing behind it was me.

Subsequently, I was given a weekly Sunday column that lasted a few years, but from December 2016, it became every other Monday at my request.

While I appreciated the privilege of having such a platform in a national paper (albeit with a shrinking circulation) and tried not to take it for granted, I came to dread the week my column is due. It was like the Sword of Democles threatening to fall on my head every 14 days. It was a pain in the ass, essentially.

It was such a relief to finish a column and not have to worry about it for at least a week.

But now with the end of TNP in print, the column is done for good and it’s the greatest relief of all.

There’s talk of me continuing the column for the online version of TNP, but I would rather not.

I’m starting work at The Straits Times today as a designer and ST couldn’t care less about me as a columnist.

Writing for TNP online would just be doing extra work that’s not going to help me during my performance appraisal with my ST bosses. I don’t need the additional stress.

I didn’t even feel my TNP bosses cared that much about my column.

So… yah, that’s it.

No more column.

It’s the end of an era and start of a column-free one at ST for me.

Thanks for reading.

Monday 6 December 2021

Do you believe the Raeesah Khan-spiracy theories? If she’s a spy, I’m the next 007

“2021. Best year ever. More drama than Mediacorp produced in its entirety.”

That was how one Reddit discussion title summed it up.

Books Actually, Night Owl Cinematics, Omicron, peacock attack and now this.

Late Friday night, the Committee of Privileges released a report that former Worker’s Party (WP) MP Raeesah Khan said in the hearing that the WP leaders had told her to keep to the lie she told in Parliament – that she accompanied a rape victim to a police station to make a police report.

This contradicted statements made by WP leader Pritam Singh at his press conference the day before, where he told reporters he had directed Ms Khan to take responsibility and admit to her lie in Parliament – but that she had disregarded this order.

Reacting to the report, a friend ranted on Facebook:
“Raeesah… what have you done? What are you doing? Were you planted into the WP by the PAP to destroy them?

“Let’s not forget, your father was along for the elected presidency ride… all planned by the PAP...

“Is your whole family working for the PAP?”
Wait, huh, what?

Ms Khan is secretly working for the People’s Action Party?

Sure, and I am leaving The New Paper to replace Daniel Craig as the next James Bond in Licence To Act Blur.

And I thought the anti-vaxx Covid-19 conspiracy theories were cray.

Yes, Ms Khan’s father Farid Khan, who is a maritime industry bigwig, did apply to run for President against Madam Halimah Yaacob in 2017 – but was rejected because he didn’t qualify.

That was planned by the PAP? I don’t get it.

I hope my friend doesn’t get Pofma-ed.

But I soon learnt he wasn’t the only one with Raeesah Khan-spiracy theories.

Elsewhere on Facebook, I found wild allegations like this:
“It is either she is a PAP mole or she has serious mental disorder. Who in the right frame of mind will make this kind of lie in the first place?”
And this:
“Raeesah Khan is a spy sent by PAP. Use bird brain to think also know. Her father is a successful millionaire businessman. Why would she want to join WP? She should be joining PAP.”
However, another person tried to debunk this mole/spy theory by pointing out:
“Her behaviour is quite consistent with her youth as an activist which landed her a role within WP for GE2020. Wokeism’s approach is not something which PAP likes.

“If PAP wants to fix WP, the AHTC case is good enough cos it even touches Low Thia Kiang…”

“If she is a mole, what makes Pritam Singh? Co-conspirator?”
But then this disbunking was debunked by someone else point by point:
“She only joined WP in 2018. Not a very long time. Spies don’t work immediately. Spies need to take some time to gain the trust etc.

“The AHTC case did not cause WP to lose Aljunied GRC and even let WP take down Sengkang. So PAP needs to come out with new saga.

“Pritam Singh is the boss who gets conned by the mole.”
Wow. If Ms Khan can do all that, she should be the new 007. I can be the next Austin Powers.

Ironically, while these Khan-spiracy theories are meant to portray WP as victim of some underhanded political subterfuge, if they actually turned out to be true, I would be more impressed by PAP for pulling off a long con this elaborate.

I mean, recruiting a woke activist to infiltrate an opposition party and help the party win a GRC in a general election despite her getting a stern warning by the police for social media posts that promoted enmity among different groups and committed contempt by scandalising the court, just so she can get into Parliament and lie about accompanying a rape victim to the police station only to confess to the lie months later – that’s next level, man.

Even Dr Evil would be jealous he never thought of it. Game recognises game.

Oh, behave.

- Published in The New Paper, 6 December 2021