Sunday 14 November 2004

Happy holidaze, Singapore!

Today is Hari Raya Puasa. Selamat Hari Raya to all my Muslim readers

Thursday was Deepavali. I wish all my Hindu readers a belated Happy Deepavali.

And if you took leave on Friday (plus Saturday if you're one of those who still work Saturdays), I wish you a Happy Extra Long Weekend.

The myriad of holidays we have in Singapore used to fascinate me as a kid. I would memorise the date of every public holiday in the year.

But as I grew older, I couldn't keep track. There was at least one occasion when I showed up for work at an empty office and realised I was the only one there because it was a public holiday.

I was wondering why traffic was so light that morning.

One of the problems is that seven of our 11 public holidays don't fall on fixed dates. (Another problem is that I'm an idiot, but that's another story.)

Only Labour Day, National Day, Christmas and New Year's Day are fixed.

I especially like New Year's Day because the name of the holiday itself helps to remind me what date it falls on - the first day of the new year. It's that easy.

I also have a soft spot for Good Friday because even though the date may change, I always know what day of the week it's on.

Sometimes I wish we could be more like the Americans because not only do they have a robust two-party political system, promiscuous women and 'Weird Al' Yankovic, they also have public holidays that don't fall on fixed dates but are easier to figure out for the layman.

For example, the most important holiday for Americans besides Christmas is Thanksgiving, which doesn't have a fixed date, but it's always in November and it's always the fourth Thursday of the month.

Memorial Day is always the last Monday of May. Labor Day is always the first Monday in September.

Martin Luther King Jr's Birthday is the third Monday of January, which is a bit strange because how can someone's birthday not be a fixed date?

When I first heard about these holidays when I lived in the US, I was completely taken by this what-weekday-of-the-month system because it actually made sense (except for MLK Jr's Birthday).

If we had something like this in Singapore, no one would ever have to suffer the indignity of showing up for work on a public holiday again. OK, when I say 'no one', I mean me.

By the way, I also like to wish all my American readers a Happy Thanksgiving on Nov 25. You see? Even I know when it is.

- Published in The New Paper, 14 November 2004

Monday 4 October 2004

More sex please, we're Singaporeans

I was watching The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on CNBC a couple of weekends ago and the guest was Dennis Miller. He made a joke about Singapore banning sex on buses.

'WHAT?' I exclaimed.

After some checking, I found out that it was actually in Bangkok where officials were urging students to refrain from coitus while commuting.

But Bangkok somehow became Singapore as the story circulated and the uncorrected error soon became perceived fact.

And thus another unflattering myth about our 'fine' city is born. After all, it made irresistible sense. We are the country that banned chewing gum, Cosmopolitan and Sex And The City. We might as well prohibit procreation on public transportation too.

Unlike Bangkok, a city whose name speaks for itself, the Republic of Singapore is synonymous with buzzkill.

This is despite some less-than-extreme makeover attempts to sex the city-state up, such as a new movie rating system that now allows the uncut DVD version of Titanic (woohoo! Kate Winslet's breasts at last!), and the unbanning of the abovementioned Cosmo and HBO comedy starring Sarah Jessica Parker's nose.

A few years ago, the local edition of FHM was almost shut down for its risque content.

Today, even Singapore Press Holdings has jumped on the laddie mag moneywagon by publishing the Singapore edition of Maxim. (UPDATE: Singapore Maxim folded in 2008.)

However, the venerable Playboy still can't play here. You can print all the cleavage and butt cheek you want, but nipples and pubic hair are still no-fly zones.

We hosted Asia's largest gay fest, although you wouldn't know it due to the lack of local media coverage.

But the foreign press went so far as to report that Thai homosexuals are now fighting to keep the title of Asia's gay tourism capital from Singapore.

Fiona Xie running along Orchard Road in a bikini aside, Singapore's top sex news of 2004 is indisputably the plague of China prostitutes invading our island beyond the usual red-light areas.

This should finally rid Singapore of our asexual wallflower image.

And then the Durex Global Sex Survey 2004 results were released. Sigh.

Out of the 41 countries that took part in the survey, Singaporeans have the second least amount of sex, averaging about twice a week. Only the Japanese have lesser sex.

And to add insult to injury, our virgins are getting older. Although it would explain our low birth rate, the survey doesn't jibe for a couple of reasons.

First, if we're really having so little sex, then all those China hookers have come to the wrong place. They should go to France, which topped the survey (again).

Second, how can Japan possibly be at the bottom of the list? Have you seen those Japanese bondage videos?

This year, Singapore actually moved up a notch in the survey. Last year, we were dead last. So perhaps those China girls made a difference after all.

I appeal to you, my fellow Singaporeans, let's do even better in next year's survey. We already suck at sports. Don't blow this too. When you take the survey, for all our sakes - lie!

- Published in The New Paper, 4 Oct 2004