Monday, 14 June 2021

No, Gurmit Singh wasn't driving his Lambo when he was caught speeding at 131kmh

Well, in the Get Your Shot, Steady Pom Pi Pi video, he did say “faster go and vaccinate”.

But perhaps not 131kmh fast.

Yes, that was the speed Gurmit Singh was caught driving at on that fateful April 12 night along Woodlands Avenue 12.

Fastest in Singapore and JB, and some say Batam?

At least he was not naked (presumably), unlike another road user who was arrested by police last week for riding a motorcycle without a helmet – or any clothes.

Even worse, no mask.

The naked guy has since been remanded at the Institute of Mental Health.

As for Singh, he was fined $800 last week and banned from driving for three months. He apologised on Instagram for what he did and said: “I hope to do better.”

If he was speeding, he must have been driving his Lamborghini, right?

After all, if the man who plays Phua Chu Kang is famous for anything else besides playing Phua Chu Kang, it’s owning a Lambo.

It’s like Ann Kok and that iconic see-through top she wore at the 1996 Star Awards. People still talk about it.

Whether she likes it or not.

The Lambo is Singh’s see-through top.

It all kind of started in July 2011 when The New Paper reported: “After a local magazine published in May a picture of his Lamborghini Gallardo that he bought last December, he has been called ‘arrogant’, even by a friend.”

Singh told TNP:
“I was very saddened by that remark. It’s very easy for people to jump on the wrong idea or label me as ‘hao lian’. I don’t like to be seen as pushing it in your face like, ‘Oh, look at how successful I am.’ People see me driving the car, but they don't have to announce it to the world.”
He later explained to another publication:
“Once I got (the car), I started sharing with a few friends and by the time I shared with my sixth or seventh friend, one person said, ‘So show-off.’

“I went, ‘No, I’m just sharing happy news, I want you to be happy for me that this guy from a poor Punjabi family who slept on the floor for all his life now drives a Lamborghini.’”
He sold the car after two years. It may be gone but not forgotten.

In 2017, a CNA reporter interviewed Singh and wrote: “This is when I decide to discuss the Lamborghini, a car he owned a few years ago when Mediacorp was still at Caldecott Hill.

“My newsroom used to be close to the open-air carpark and the roar of the engine signalling his comings and goings would penetrate the walls. Publicly, he was called a show-off.

“When I raise this, I sense his struggle to hide how such talk perturbs him.”

Singh told the reporter:
“I know you guys in the compound could hear the Lamborghini. I didn’t do it on purpose. It’s just how the engine is. I wasn’t trying to show off. I wasn’t pressing the accelerator.

“To me, it’s not about materialism. I understand what’s been put into it – the effort and the blood, sweat and all that. It’s not just superficial. It’s like driving the Batmobile.

“It’s like people who buy handbags… I don’t get it. But I know they do. So I respect that.”
More recently in 2019, during the Not Again Podcast with Gary Tan, the subject came up again, but it was a less defensive conversation.

Singh raved about his Italian supercar to the interviewer:
“It was great having a Lamborghini for two years. I drove it every day. It’s my favourite car of all time. Love it to pieces.

“I love it so much that one day when my wife said, ‘Get, we have to get toilet paper.’ I said, ‘Okay, I’ll go buy.’

“We have the family car and we have the Lamborghini, right? And I took the Lamborghini, drove to the supermarket, bought the roll of toilet paper, came back.

“She said, ‘Did you just drive all the way just to buy toilet paper?’ I said, ‘Yes, what’s wrong with that?’

“And then I asked her, ‘Do you want to buy anything else? I can buy it. Item by item, please.’ She said no! That’s how much I love the car.”
He added:
“I’m a simple guy, you know. I love Lamborghinis, but I’m a simple guy. A simple Lamborghini guy. It’s a contradiction, I know. Oxymoron.”
In the same podcast, Singh reminisced about how he first fell in lust with the vehicle:
“When I was a little boy, I watched Tom Selleck in Magnum PI, a detective show. And he would drive a Ferrari. I said, ‘What a great car!’

“So fast forward, when I was able to rent a Ferrari for the weekend, I drove it. I was so happy… I couldn’t afford one yet. So I thought I’d rent it.”
Then he spotted a Lambo.
“Oh, there’s a Lamborghini as well. So I went to rent a Lamborghini. I tell you, when I sat in a Lamborghini, without even turning the engine on first, I already felt it was way better than Ferrari. It felt like a jet. I felt like Batman.

“And when I turned on the engine and sat that low, and I drove it with that low throttle sound – my goodness, my hair all stood up. Hair that I didn’t know I had all came up and said, ‘Hello! Hello!’

He might have just described what’s called a cargasm.

Also in 2019, he told 8 Days: “Till this day, I’m still missing my Lamborghini!”

But he can no longer afford one after an “epic reduction in salary” when he ended his full-time contract with Mediacorp in 2014 after 20 years.

So if Singh was not driving his Lambo, what car was he caught speeding in?

According to The Straits Times, he was “believed to be” driving an Audi A8 L.

Sure, apart from the “flapping sound” Singh claimed the car made, the Audi luxury sedan is okay.

But it’s no Batmobile like the Lambo.

Who knows? If he makes many more of those Covid-19 videos for our Government as the pandemic drags on, he may be able to afford the Bull again.


- Published in The New Paper, 14 June 2021

Monday, 31 May 2021

Oh no, am I part of the Jem-Westgate cluster?

Dear Ministry of Health,

I thought I could get away with it.

The pandemic had been going on for more than a year, and I had managed not to get swabbed for a Covid-19 test. No sticks up my nose, thank you very much.

And then Jem happened.

All I wanted was some bananas and bacon bits.

That was why I was at the FairPrice Xtra hypermarket in the Jurong East mall that day.

So on May 18, when I read that you were “encouraging” those who visited Jem or Westgate shopping malls between May 10 to 14 to go for a free swab test, I knew. I just knew.

I reviewed my TraceTogether history. Yup, I checked in at Jem on May 12.

My nose can kiss its virginity goodbye.

On your website, you provided a list of options for the swab test, including “walk in to Raffles Medical at Shaw Centre Orchard”.

But on May 19, when I attempted to walk in to Raffles Medical at Shaw Centre Orchard, there was a queue extending dangerously into the multi-storey carpark.

I was willing to wait, but then I was told that only those who received an SMS from you could take the test that day. This was not mentioned on your website.

Since I did not get any SMS, I had to go back the next day. So I had gone all the way there for nothing.

Not cool, MOH. This was what I got for trying to be a good citizen?

I was so annoyed at you that I decided to skip the swab test altogether. I had no symptoms and was fully vaccinated anyway.

Since I am okay with needles, you may ask, why am I making a fuss over a swab test?

The difference is I have had injections all my life, but a long stick up my nose was terra incognita.

What if I sneeze in the middle of a swab? Would my brain be punctured?

So it is something I'm happy not to do if I don't have to.

A few days later, Jem and Westgate were forced to shut for two weeks as the cluster grew and grew. It was alarming enough that I reconsidered getting the stick up my nose.

So last Tuesday, after getting turned away at a couple of clinics near my home because I did not book beforehand, I finally ended up at Keat Hong Family Medicine Clinic where I was told I had to wait about 45 minutes for the test. No problem!

At least I was not queueing in a multi-storey carpark at the risk of getting knocked down by oncoming vehicles.

All this for some bananas and bacon bits. Damn you, alliterative grocery items.

After everything I went through, I wanted something to commemorate my hard-to-get first Covid-19 swab test.

So as I sat down for the swab, I set my phone to video mode and placed it discreetly on my lap to record the stick going up my nose.

I guess I was not discreet enough because the nurse said: “No filming.”

I thought I could get away with it.

As I fumbled with my phone, trying to switch it to photo mode, she said: “Please keep your phone in your pocket.”

Oh. She had to swab God knows how many people a day and did not need to deal with any more idiots like me as well.

Then I realised it might not have been the best idea in the world to antagonise someone who was about to insert a stick up my nose.

It was my first time. Please be gentle.

With my head tilted back, she went disconcertingly deep into both my nostrils. It tickled a bit but wasn't painful. I did not sneeze.

And thus my nose cherry was popped. I survived my first Covid-19 swab test and didn't even have a selfie to show for it.

The good news is I got my test result the next day – negative. I would not be adding to the Jem-Westgate cluster.

Ironically, that was also the same day I received an SMS from you “encouraging” me to go for a free swab test.

Where was this SMS when I needed it, MOH? You were a week late.

The information on your website has since been updated several times – no more walk-ins, it seems.

I just wish you had planned this whole testing thing better from the start.

To make up for it, the least you can do is allow selfies during the swab test.

You know, for the Gram.

Thank you.

- Published in The New Paper, 31 May 2021

Monday, 17 May 2021

Hey, NEA, how do we return our trays when we’re not even allowed to eat out now?

Dear National Environment Agency,

It was one of the most humiliating experiences in my life.

And I wrote Phua Chu Kang The Movie, so I am very familiar with public humiliation.

I was having lunch at a staff cafeteria that I had never been to before.

This was a number of years ago, so I don’t recall exactly where it was and why I was there even though I wasn't a member of the staff.

What I do remember is after finishing my meal, as I started to walk away from my table, I was startled when the cafeteria suddenly erupted with angry shouting.

It was alarming how quickly the previously civilised office workers calmly eating their food just a second ago turned unhinged and rabid.

What was even scarier was realising that their feral rage was directed at me. It was as if I asked them a question about editorial independence or something. They looked like they were about to rip me to shreds.

What did I do?

Eventually, I figured out from the angry shouting that my fellow diners were taking rather extreme umbrage at me leaving behind my tray of dirty dishes on the table.

I looked around and saw signs reminding people to return their trays, which I hadn’t noticed before. I felt like such an idiot.

I swiftly picked up my tray and searched for where I could return it.

The shouting finally died down and my fellow diners let me live.

How was I to know that returning trays was part of the workplace culture there?

Talk about peer pressure. I wonder how many noobs were similarly traumatised into compliance like I was.

Yes, there were signs, but in most places where I have eaten, the signs are ignored and no one cares.

Whatcha gonna do?

And that’s probably why you announced last Friday that you are making it mandatory for diners in hawker centres to return their trays and clear their table litter from June 1 with the threat of fines up to $2,000 for repeat offenders.

Wait, but on Friday, it was also announced that from yesterday, dining out is banned until June 13 because of the surge of Covid-19 cases in the community.

So as much as we would love to return our trays and clean our table litter after we eat in the hawker centre from June 1, unfortunately, we won’t even be allowed to eat in any hawker centre from June 1 to 13.

This throwback to tighter Covid-19 restrictions must have caught you by surprise. Like Bennifer, it’s a sequel or reboot no one asked for.

I get it. The Government is a huge place. Sometimes the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. This just slipped through the butt crack. It happens.

All I’m asking you for is this.

You announced that there will be a grace period of three months from June 1 for people to adjust to this new return-your-tray rule. You will start enforcement only from Sept 1.

But since we will only be permitted to start eating in hawker centres again from June 14 (fingers crossed), can you also start enforcement from Sept 14 so that we get the full three months of the grace period?

Thanks. We need all the time that we can get to adjust to this new new normal.

Don’t you wish Miss Universe Singapore had “Return your tray” written on her national costume instead of “Stop Asian hate”?

Did you try to get Phua Chu Kang to do a “Don't play play, return your tray” video? I guess he’s too busy promoting Shopee and Covid vaccination these days. Did I mention I wrote Phua Chu Kang The Movie?

Anyway, it’s really too bad you have to resort to fines to force people to return their trays.

If only angry shouting could work nationwide.

Or can it?

- Published in The New Paper, 17 May 2021