Sunday 14 October 2012

The Amy Cheng conspiracy: Sex, violence & cheap weddings

I was shocked. I couldn’t believe it when I read about Amy Cheng’s racist comments on Facebook.

Having worked with Amy before, I can say that there was never any hint or slither or smell of racial ill will from her at all.

I first became aware of her when she was cast as a regular on the Channel 5 drama Growing Up.

The actress also guest starred in a couple of episodes in the final season of Phua Chu Kang Pte Ltd I produced.

I know Amy can’t be racist because she is in an inter-racial marriage with actor R. Chandran, who is also founder-director of Act 3 Theatrics.

So people are wrong to attack her online for …why are you interrupting me?

What do you mean it’s a different Amy?

Amy Cheong? Who the hell is Amy Cheong?

Never heard of her. Why should anyone care what this Amy Cheong says on Facebook? It’s not like she’s a celebrity like Amy Cheng. Or Cecilia Sue.

Amy Cheong is an assistant director at NTUC? Oh, she’s not any more?

Come on, we’ve all seen much more racist stuff on the Internet. So she made a crack about $50 weddings in the void deck. Meh.

You know where I held my wedding dinner? I couldn’t even afford the void deck. It was in the corridor outside my HDB flat.

To be more accurate, it was my mother’s flat and it was not a dinner but a catered buffet lunch arranged by my mother.

I didn’t even pay for it. My mother did, but then she collected all the hongbao, which is fair.

That was 17 years ago and I still remember faxing an invitation to my colleagues at then Singapore Broadcasting Corporation (yes, I used the fax because invitation cards and delivery cost money). I was very disappointed that none of my colleagues, especially my then best friend in the whole world Gurmit Singh, showed up. I mean, after all the trouble I went through!

I guess I should count myself lucky that Ms Cheong wasn’t my neighbour back then and Facebook wasn’t invented yet.

What would she have written?

“How many hours do cheapskate weddings at home go on for? Pay for a real wedding, you cheapskate! Then the cheapskate divorce rate won’t be so high! How can society allow people to get married outside their HDB flat? KNS.”

Since there was no Facebook, she could fax it.

Anyway, I don’t understand why the misguided Facebook rant of one woman (whether it’s Amy Cheng or Cheong) should get so much attention that even the prime minister, who was out of the country at the time, has commented on her comment.

It’s not like she painted the words “My grandfather road” on the road or told off a fellow MRT passenger in a priority seat.

One apparent consequence of the contretemps is the banning of director Ken Kwek’s movie Sex.Violence.FamilyValues.

Made up of three short films, the 46-minute movie was originally given an M18 rating by the Media Development Authority (MDA) and premiered in Singapore two Fridays ago.

Then on Monday - the same day that Ms Cheong (not Cheng) suddenly became the Internet’s hottest topic - an MDA panel changed the rating from M18 to Not Allowed For All, meaning the movie was no longer allowed to be shown in Singapore, due to some racist jokes based on Indian stereotypes.

(You can get a sampling of the jokes in the movie’s foul-mouthed “dirrrty” trailer below.)

According to The Straits Times: “While the sacking of Ms Amy Cheong ...on Monday over her racist online comments was not mentioned during the panel's deliberations, there was a ‘general atmosphere’ of heightened sensitivity.

“This can be seen in the recent spate of racially offensive Facebook posts and tweets, and the public backlash that followed.”

Someone from the MDA panel was quoted as saying: “From these, we can see that Singaporeans are not ready to accept comments about stereotypes.”

So thanks to Ms Cheong, we un-ready Singaporeans are now shielded from the movie’s comments about stereotypes.

One silver lining for the film-makers is that because of the ban, more people are talking about the movie, thus creating pent-up demand, which ...wait, I just realised something.

Sex.Violence.FamilyValues was directed by Ken Kwek, who also wrote the movie The Blue Mansion, which starred Lim Kay Siu, who is the brother of Lim Kay Tong, who starred in Growing Up, which also starred ...Amy Cheng!


Could it be that this whole $50 void deck wedding thing was just a conspiracy to create publicity for the movie?

Oh, I forgot - it’s Amy Cheong, not Cheng.

Aiyah, just when I thought I had it figured out.

Hey, would anyone happen to know if Ms Cheong acted in anything?

- Published in The New Paper, 14 October 2012

UPDATE: Sex.Violence.FamilyValues given R21 rating with edits