Sunday 3 May 2009

Good news or bad news? Every day here is Singapore Day

Last week was a case of bad news-good news for Singapore.

The bad news was that Singapore raised the alert level because of the H1N1 flu pandemic, which is basically a sequel to Sars but with Speedy Gonzales’ accent and Porky Pig’s stutter. We’ve seen this movie before.

I’d rather be watching Star Trek – which the Mexicans won’t be able to because their cinemas have been shut down because of the outbreak. The good news is our cineplexes are still open – for now.

Another bit of good news is that Singapore has been ranked the top Asian city in a “quality of living” survey by Mercer, “the global leader” in human resource and other services, whatever that means.

This seems like a direct rebuttal to the Facebook group called Singapore Sucks reported a week earlier.

It’s worth noting that Mercer’s quality of living factors include “limitation on personal freedom” and “media and censorship”. Yet, Singapore managed to beat Paris, Tokyo and New York. Go figure.

The bad news is the survey is intended as a guide for expatriates to decide which are the most desirable cities to work in. So if Singapore is ranked high in the survey, will more “foreign talent” be attracted to come here?

Which brings us to more bad news: Our jobless rate reached a five-year high of 4.8 per cent in March.

But the good news is that our newlywed imported Olympic silver-winning ping-ponger Li Jiawei said she would give birth to her child in Singapore.

No, wait, is that good news? (Or news at all?)

It just means that when the kid grows up, he or she will be competing for jobs with us “real” Singaporeans.

On the other hand, the scion may decide to move abroad like those 12,000 Singaporeans who celebrated Singapore Day in London last weekend with Adrian Pang, Michelle Chong, Hossan Leong, Taufik Batisah, the Dim Sum Dollies and, of course, lots of food.

By the way, Singapore at No 26 ranks way above London at No 38 in the Mercer survey.

For those Singaporeans overseas living in lower-ranked cities, Singapore Day is the only day that they can experience all the glory that is Singapore.

The good news is that for the rest of us still stuck here on this island, every day is Singapore Day.

The bad news is that we’re also stuck here with the never-ending story that is the Aware saga.

The good news is that the Aware saga can be more entertaining than Adrian Pang, Michelle Chong, Hossan Leong, Taufik Batisah and the Dim Sum Dollies, et al.

Besides giving us a chance to feel superior to fellow Singaporeans (specifically, the Aware members), the saga also provides a welcome distraction amid real bad news about a deadly virus and rising unemployment.

And that’s worth more than any Mercer ranking.

- Published in The New Paper, 3 May 2009