Sunday 15 May 2011

What I learned from the election (Or can I buy insurance for friendship?)

Everyone is talking about the watershed election we just had – in the sense that the weather was so hot during the election, you wished you were in a shed filled with water.

Because of the General Election, I learned a few surprising things

One is that Choa Chu Kang is spelled “Chua Chu Kang” when referring to the constituency. Almost everywhere else – road signs, MRT station, columbarium – it’s Choa Chu Kang.

But it’s Chua Chu Kang for the community club, primary school and secondary school. Confusing much?

And just my luck, I live in Chua Chu Kang – or is it Choa Chu Kang?

Maybe I should just move to Yishun. Or is it Nee Soon? Alamak.

Another thing that surprised me was how randomly Singapore’s first “social-media election” could create an online celebrity literally overnight.

I mean I understand why slender young female candidates like Ting Pei Ling and Nicole Seah would get so much attention, but Yam Ah Mee?

Huh? Who? What? Can I get that dry with chilli?

Persuant to what Andy Warhol said about everyone getting their 15 minutes of fame, I declare “Yam Ah Mee, Returning Officer Extraordinaire” the William Hung of GE 2011.

I just read that Jack Neo wants Seah and Yam in his next movie. Wasn't William Hung in a movie too?

Thanks to the election, I also learned that there's such a thing called the Insurance and Financial Practitioners Association of Singapore.

Last week, its president, Mr Tommy Wee, wrote to The Straits Times: “We are disturbed by Senior Minister of State (Education and National Development) Grace Fu’s comments during a rally speech at the Jurong East Stadium, in which she likened opposition parties to insurance agents who show up once every five years.”

The next day, Ms Fu expressed “regret” if her analogy “had caused unhappiness”.

What about my unhappiness? Five years? I haven't seen some of my insurance agents for 15 years!

The sad part is that these people used to be my classmates and NS buddies. I thought we were friends, but after they became insurance agents, I was just a dollar sign to them.

I would buy a policy just to stop them from always trying to sell me something – and then I never saw them again.

Knowing this, I made one guy buy me a meal each time I met him to pay my monthly premium.

This is to ensure that I do see him again, cut into what little profit he was making off me and, of course, get free food.

But after a few months, I finally agreed to pay by Giro when I got tired of seeing his tulan face every month – despite enjoying the free food.

In his letter, Mr Wee hoped that Singaporeans “will not have a tainted view of the insurance industry because of Ms Fu's disparaging remarks”.

He needn’t have worried. My tainted view of the insurance industry is because of the number of friendships it has ruined.

I can’t wait for the next election for more edification.

- Published in The New Paper, 15 May 2011