Sunday 31 March 2013

Vandalism & semen: They work in mischievous ways

Funny how the meanings of certain words change as you grow older.

For instance, when I was a boy, I enjoyed going to Gay World.

Nowadays, that could be taken to mean that I used to enjoy going to a world of homosexuals.

Which may be true, but that’s not what I meant.

“Gay World” refers to the now-demolished Gay World Amusement Park, originally known as Happy World.

Of course, it has been a long time since “gay” just means “happy”.

Just as it has been a long time since I can be accurately described as a "boy", although I was described as “childish” by a reader as recently as three weeks ago.

When I was an actual child many, many years ago, the sternest admonition I could receive was to be called “naughty”.

As in “Why did put glue in your sister’s hair? You’re a very naughty boy!”

“I’m sorry. Please don’t punish me.”

More or less synonymous with "naughty” is the word “mischievous”.

I would’ve preferred to be called “mischievous” as a boy because “mischievous” sounds less naughty than “naughty”.

“Mischievous” evokes a sense of playfulness, a twinkle in the eye, as opposed to the bratty misbehaviour of “naughty”.

But now that I’m an adult, “naughty” has taken on a more, uh, adult connotation. Being called “naughty” is almost sort of a good thing.

As in “Why are you wearing edible underwear? You’re a very naughty boy.”

“Yes, I am. Punish me, please.”

On the other hand, it seems less acceptable to be “mischievous” as a grown-up because you may be charged with “mischief” and go to jail for it.

Last week, Samantha Lo Xin Hui, better known as the “Sticker Lady”, was charged with 15 counts of mischief for offences included pasting stickers with the words “Press until shiok” on traffic-light control boxes and spray-painting “My Grandfather Road” on public roads.

If convicted, Lo, 26, could face a fine or up to two years’ jail, or both.

While there was certainly playfulness in what Lo allegedly did, this is “mischief” of a different kind.

According to the Penal Code:
“Whoever, with intent to cause, or knowing that he is likely to cause, wrongful loss or damage to the public or any person, causes the destruction of any property, or any such change in any property, or in the situation thereof, as destroys or diminishes its value or utility, or affects it injuriously, commits ‘mischief’.”

If I read that correctly, it means that you could actually go to jail for putting glue in your sister’s hair but not for wearing edible underwear.

The Penal Code doesn’t say anything about playfulness or a twinkle in the eye.

It does give the example that if you have “joint property” in a horse with someone named Z and you shoot the horse, intending to cause wrongful loss to poor Z, you would have committed “mischief”.

Well, there goes my plans for next weekend. I must remember to inform the folks at Ikea I won’t be sending them the horse meat after all.

Let me give you another example of “mischief”.

In February 2008, a man masturbated to a photograph of a female colleague and collected his semen in a small container.

The man, who worked as a civilian officer in the police force, then went to his office in the police headquarters at Irrawaddy Road and waited for the colleague to leave her desk.

When she did, he mixed his semen with the water in her water bottle. When she returned, he struck up a conversation with her and secretly recorded her drinking the tainted water.

Two months later, he did the same thing with another female colleague.

The videos of his colleagues drinking the tainted water were stored on his personal computer at home.

These and upskirt videos were discovered in a police raid after a third female colleague caught him taking upskirt photos of her.

Although he had clearly been a very naughty boy, he wasn’t charged with naughtiness.

In December 2010, he was sentenced to 18 months in jail after pleading guilty to eight counts of taking underskirt videos and two counts of mischief for putting semen into his colleagues’ water.

Yes, that counted as mischief.

So the Sticker Lady, who allegedly vandalised public property, is facing the same charges as the guy who “vandalised” someone’s drink.

It brings a whole new meaning to “Press until shiok”.

I would almost rather be charged with vandalism - especially if I’m a woman and exempted from being caned.

And I believe the Sticker Lady is a woman even though she did not look like one in court last week.

How I long for the days of my grandfather when women looked like women, “gay” still meant “happy” and “mischief” didn’t mean putting semen into...

“Wait, that is glue in your sister’s hair, right?”

- Published in The New Paper, 31 March 2013

Sunday 24 March 2013

Daddy, daddy, what is oral sex?

So, parents, how harrowing has the past week been for you?

And I’m not talking being stuck with the kids 24/7 because of the school holidays.

Just let them have their smartphone, tablet or whatever and they won’t trouble you until they want to be fed.

I’m not even talking about the fear of your kids falling into a sinkhole.

No, I’m talking about all the not-so-family-friendly news that you hope your kids don’t ask you about.

“Daddy, daddy, what is oral sex?”

“Uh... that is when someone uses his or her mouth to... uh... make someone else very happy... aiyah, stop bothering me and go play with your iPhone.”

Even for a nation that produced Michael Palmer, Cecilia Sue and married 30something teachers who have affairs with underage students, last week was particularly fertile in terms of prurience.

The big story was, of course, the sex-for-contracts trial where former SCDF head Peter Lim was charged with corruptly obtaining oral sex from former Nimrod Engineering general manager Pang Chor Mui.

I wondered why anyone would name a company Nimrod Engineering. It’s equivalent to calling it Idiot Engineering, which I don’t think is a very good name.

So I Googled it and found out that Nimrod was the name of a king in the Bible who was a great hunter. Oh, so that's why.

But it’s fair to say that for most of us in post-biblical times, “nimrod” means “idiot”.

As in “What nimrod would name his company Nimrod Engineering?”

Now if only someone could explain to me the meaning of the Pixies song Nimrod’s Son...

Anyway, the Peter Lim case wasn’t only the big sex trial last week. We also had Swiss ex-banker Juerg Buergin who was charged with having paid sex with an underage prostitute from an online vice ring.

“Daddy, daddy, what is a prostitute?”

“That’s what I feel like every time I pretend to laugh at my boss’s jokes so that I can afford to pay for your iPhone. Aiyah, stop bothering me and I'll buy you an iPad.”

Buergin’s lawyer said Buergin was deceived by the girl and her pimp into believing she was not underage.

“Daddy, daddy, what is a pimp?”

“It’s from this show called Pimp My Ride where people make their cars more beautiful. If you stop talking to me, I’ll buy you an Xbox with Kinect.”

And then there was also the relief teacher who had sex with his 13-year-old female student.

And the auxiliary police officer with Certis Cisco who used his warrant card to try and get a discount from a prostitute.

And the guy who placed a spy camera inside a shampoo rack of a bathroom to record a woman in the shower.

And the thief with a wallet fetish who was sentenced to 13 months’ jail.

“Daddy, daddy, what is a fetish?”

“That’s when you like something so much that it’s bad for you. Like you asking so many questions. Why aren’t you playing with the new 27-inch iMac I just bought you?”

What is a responsible parent to do in the face of this unwholesome onslaught?

Do we shield our children from adult reality and try to preserve their innocence just a little longer?

Or is their innocence already lost because we let them surf the Internet on their smartphone, tablet or whatever?

“Daddy, I found out what a pimp really is. I just Googled it on the iMac.”

“Please don’t Google ‘oral sex’!”

Who should come to our rescue but the Health Promotion Board (HPB)?

Last Wednesday, in the midst of the racy parade, I saw an HPB ad in The Straits Times with the word “SEX” in large capital letters.

It got my attention. The ad read: “Sex is a confusing maze. Talk your child through it.”

Yes, but how? We parents feel a little lost in this sexy confusing maze ourselves.

Funny you should ask because the ad was for seminars held at Republic Polytechnic yesterday on the role that parents play in our kids’ sexual development.

Targeted at parents of children aged five to 16, topics included “Too young to talk about sexuality?” and “Minding sex in the media”.

According to the HPB website:

“Parents can only protect their children till a certain stage of their life.

“Learn how you can prepare and teach your child how to draw their own boundaries and be media-savvy with regard to sex in the media.”

How timely. See? Even HPB acknowledges there was a lot of sex in the news last week.

Unfortunately, among the topics, there wasn’t one called “How do I prevent my kids from becoming underage prostitutes for an online vice ring?”

Or “How do I prevent my kids from having sex with their teachers?”

However, there was a topic called “But Mom, Dad! Everyone’s doing it!”

Despite the missing topics, I am grateful to HPB for organising the free seminars for us nimrod parents.

I’m also relieved the children are going back to school tomorrow.

If only HPB could also organise a seminar on how to prevent our kids from falling into sinkholes.

They’re everywhere!

But sinkholes are only slightly less hazardous to our children than Google.

The Internet can be such a debaser.

“Daddy, daddy...”

“Aiyah, I thought the holidays are over. Aren't you supposed to be in school?”

- Published in The New Paper, 24 March 2013

Thursday 21 March 2013

Well, that's innovative

In The Straits Times yesterday:

So how is Singapore the most innovative Asia-Pacific city?

We walk on the tracks when the train breaks down and escape from the cops by jumping from the third floor.

Our Health Promotion Board also runs a big ad in the papers to get parents to talk to their kids about sex and attend its seminars.

As if to make sure you're frightened enough for your children, next to the HPB sex ad is a New Paper blurb that says, "Pimp tells of underage girl in online vice ring case: She demanded I raise her fee, or else..."

Sex is a confusing maze indeed.

(Though the sex maze kinda reminds me of Pac-Man.)

Wednesday 20 March 2013

My Joanne Peh break-up column is a triple threat online

This is interesting ... probably only to me and no one else.

My latest Joanne Peh column has been republished on three different SPH websites.

AsiaOne Showbiz

The Straits Times Communities Entertainment

AsiaOne Diva

This has never happened before.

I would like to think that it's because I wrote such a brilliant column, but it's more likely people just can't get enough of Joanne Peh and her break-up with Bobby Tonelli.

Hey, at least, they used my picture on AsiaOne Diva. It's the only one with some comments. They include:

It's a private matter. What is it to you Mr. Ong?


To split with someone is not a happy occasion, unlike somebody's spouse giving birth or change to a brand new car?

So why would the former want to announce her split in Instagram or tweet about it? That is something not worth celebrating, or to crow about, isn't it? Is the writer crazy or nuts?

And this is one beef (not horse meat) I have with my column being republished elsewhere outside of The New Paper on Sunday.

In the paper, my column is printed under the heading "Humour" (along with Neil Humphrey's column).

Many people have complained that my column shouldn't be classified under "Humour" because it's not humorous at all. I can't argue with that.

But the "Humour" heading is important because it's supposed to signal to readers that the article is not to be taken seriously.

(Other clues are the words "ACT BLUR" below my byline.)

Just like when you see an online news story attributed to New Nation or The Onion, you should know better than to share it on Facebook like it's real news without "lol" somewhere in your comments, like Chris Ho and former minister Lim Hwee Hua did.

So when my column is taken out of the The New Paper context and republished without the "Humour" label, people actually believe that I expect Joanne Peh to announce her break-up on Instagram. (I did expect her to mention it on Twitter though.)

I loathe the expressions "tongue in cheek" and "should be taken with a pinch of salt", but they apply here.

Sadly, even with the "Humour" heading in the paper, many readers of The New Paper still take me quite literally, resulting in some unhappy e-mails.

It's because of this fear of potential misunderstanding that the published Joanne Peh column is somewhat different from the uncut version on this blog.

Yes, even the three other online versions are adulterated.

Or maybe improved. I'm too close to tell.

Sunday 17 March 2013

Why didn’t we know about Joanne Peh’s break-up sooner?

I once overheard a conversation between two foreigners in Singapore.

No, wait. The word “foreigners” makes me sound xenophobic. I’ll rephrase.

I once overheard a conversation between two people.

Aiyah, that doesn’t work because it doesn’t provide the context for my anecdote – but let's move on.

One person asked the other: “What do you think of the quality of journalism in Singapore?”

The other person replied: “What journalism?”

Then they laughed like it’s the funniest thing in the world.

As a Singaporean quasi-journalist, I was offended by the joke but said nothing to object, even though I often wish I did.

Now, years later, I realise those two foreigners – I mean, people were right:

There is no journalism in Singapore.

And it’s not because Singapore has dropped from 135 last year to 149 in the latest World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders. (Reporters Without Borders should check out Kinokuniya.)

There is no journalism in Singapore because Joanne Peh and Bobby Tonelli have split for “a while” and we found out about it only last week!

I mean, when Gurmit Singh’s wife gave birth to their third child last month, I saw pictures of the newborn two days later on Instagram.

I also know it was a four-hour natural birth with no epidural.

Privacy? What privacy? More like TMI.

I even know Gurmit just bought an Audi S5 to replace his infamous Lambo.

Crazy COE prices? What crazy COE prices?

I also follow Peh on Instagram and Twitter, but there was never any hint of her break-up with Tonelli.

This is the woman whose tweet in 2011 complaining about being charged $3.90 for hot water at the Nando’s restaurant in Tanglin Mall was heard around Singapore and beyond.

Within a week after her tweet, the skies opened up and heavy rain caused flooding in Tanglin Mall.

Yes, her tweets can control the weather.

And yet no tweets about the storm in her love life.

So like journalism, social media has also let me down.

We know Peh and Tonelli have split only because an 8 Days magazine reporter happened to walk in on a conversation between Peh and stylist David Gan about furniture.

Asked if she was shopping for furniture because she and Tonelli were getting married, Peh said: “We’ve actually not been together for … a while.”

We don’t even know how long “a while” is.

Where’s the journalism? What happened to the fourth estate?

And it’s not as if Peh and Tonelli had been hiding from the media.

She starred in Channel 8 drama C.L.I.F. 2 which just ended on Friday and he was nominated last month for a Pesta Perdana award for his villainous role in the Suria drama, Munah And Hirzi: Action.

They were probably the highest-profile unmarried celebrity couple in Singapore apart from Jia Jia and Liang Teh and we happened to find out about their break-up only because of David Gan’s interior design expertise?

Where’s Woodward and Bernstein when we need them?

It seems I can no longer trust my local celebrity break-up news to be up to date.

What other local celebrity couples have called it quits that we don’t know about?

Fann Wong and Christopher Lee? Xiang Yun and Edmund Chen? Pierre Png and Andrea De Cruz? Glenn Ong and Jean Danker? Mark Richmond and Beatrice Chia-Richmond? Ken Lim and his ego? I haven’t heard much about those two giant pandas from China lately.

They all seem perfectly happy, but so did Peh and Tonelli. Is it possible that they're all just faking it?

Peh admitted as much, telling 8 Days: “The truth is, I’m tired of pretending everything is okay when it isn’t.”

And she did such a good job pretending that we had no idea. She’s a better actress than we thought.

Peh is, of course, not the first MediaCorp actress to break up with a foreign beau. Sharon Au split with her French boyfriend last year. Carole Lin divorced her French husband a few years ago.

And based on the “I ‘heart’ my Italian boyfriend” T-shirt that Peh wore on a TV game show two years ago, I’m guessing that Tonelli is of Italian descent although he’s from the US.

Do I see some sort of continental pattern here? I’m sensing an anti-foreigner sentiment of a different kind.

Maybe now local guys can have a chance with the actress. Like the “Punk Boy” at last month’s Hong Lim Park protest who held up the sign that read “Singapore for Singaporeans”.

To improve your chances even more, Peh also told 8 Days that she knows what kind of guy she doesn’t want now – “someone too good-looking”.

Stop the presses! I expect to be updated promptly on what ugly guy Peh dates next.

Maybe I’ll just start hanging around David Gan.

Who needs journalism?

- Published in The New Paper, 17 March 2013

UPDATE: My Joanne Peh break-up column is a triple threat online

UGLY UPDATE: Joanne Peh finds love with Qi Yuwu

COLUMN: Is she really going out with him?

Thursday 14 March 2013

Chris Ho versus New Nation: Who pwns who?

Punk monk hunk punked?

He is a DJ, a musician, an author and a "rebel".

I first met Chris Ho in the early 90s when I was a guest on his Rediffusion show, but I had admired him for years before then.

So I found this little online spat today between Chris and the local satirical website New Nation amusing and illuminating.

It started when New Nation (not the long defunct local newspaper but more like a local online version of The Onion) ran the fake news story Man dies from hunger after anti-foreigner strike.

Chris shared the story on his Facebook page with the comment:

Man dies for protest against foreigners? Really? Not for OPPOSING our Singapore Govt's design?

What? Singapore Govt is not worth any form of self-immolation?

As with much of what Chris posts on Facebook, he's a bit too cheem for me to really understand what he's saying except that it's usually anti-Government (or anti-Straits Times), but someone pointed out to Chris that the story is "satire".

Chris responded: "That satire cud've been sharpened if it knew where to point the finger better, no?"

He then call it "Poor lame parody".

It's not really clear whether Chris ever thought the story was true, but New Nation took it that Chris fell for the fake story (not unlike how former minister Lim Hwee Hua fell for a fake Onion story last year) and New Nation gloated about it on its website:

Chris Ho gets pwned by New Nation

At New Nation, we’re quite used to people getting pwned, 50% of the time. When a punkee refuses to admit that he cannot tell satire from honest commentary, that’s cool too.

But to call us lame because the satire was pointed at your inner xenophobic self, now that hurts our feelings.

Yah. We also cannot believe that we once thought you were cool.

I’m going to weep over your music now.

To which Chris responded on the New Nation page (note the inevitable reference to ST or Straits Times):

Thank you, thank you. Folks behind NewNation must really like me, really like me. Pity I wasn't raving about the tragedy but the misfiring of the fake-tragedy. Can't wait to get me pawned? Great. Without the ST publicity, I cud sure use some of it!

On second thoughts, did u see "Really?" in my original post? No matter, thanks for the publicity.

Chris also shared the link on his own Facebook page:

Cudn't wait to pawn me, New Nation completely missed my "Really?" in the post! Well, it's one sure way to distract from what I'm saying! New Nation - once Govt, still proudly supporting.

"We also cannot believe that we once thought you were cool.I’m going to weep over your music now." - it ended saying about me. Ouch-y.

Great, you thot my music is suppose to make you jubilant like Count On Me, Singapore?

Please weep more! Needless to say about scowling too.

He also commented:

Forgiving them is easy if they r nothing but a lap dog. But when they are on a mission to destroy my credibility, that's something else. It's called vicious. Me, am always on logic, albeit unspoken logic in Singapore.

The "Editor" of New Nation responded:

Hi Chris, rest assured your attempt at calling us pro-establishment was not missed. But your kind suggestion that it is funnier if we mocked the government instead of ultra-nationalists also shows that you sir, have been pwned.

We're also deeply surprised that you should thank us for the publicity. We're just the third worst news site in Singapore and if I may humbly admit, we picked on you because your name has more social cache than ours among our largely hipster audience.

Please don't be offended that we're riding on your fame. Here, have a cat picture.

To which Chris responded on his Facebook page:

Oh dear, the editor was hurt cos of the comment I made about a lame satire! I wouldn't have guessed. The comment was made in response to someone's comment before and I shuda said - "Poor lame parody then". If I get hurt just cos someone calls me lame, I'd be broke by now.

Anyway, I told New Nation that it shudn't be hurt, I was only hijacking its 'satire' to cast my satire about the system. I cudn't have had a lift-off without it! And I'm not trying to be condescending. But making enemies of us is certainly our White Paper master's wish. One I'd hate to fulfill. So, I'm glad we're riding on each other's infamy for a wayang showdown on Facebook THEN. Aren't we louder than Straits Times with it? Let's recognize the common one-up neme!

I refuse to fall into the system's divide-&-conquer trap. I love New Nation! I surrender to win... over White Paper master, who's always never short of - inspiring!

Chris' last words on the matter (as of this writing):

I also learned fr my screen goddess Gong Li. Dostoyevsky alone may not help in emotionless Singapore

Wah, cheem ah.

Wednesday 13 March 2013

Geek gag for Windows 8 users

I walked past this recycling thing and it reminded me of something.

Look familiar?

Who says Windows 8 is rubbish? You're right.

I just bought a Windows 8 PC at the IT Show last week. It's so user-unfriendly, I actually miss Vista.

Monday 11 March 2013

Adam Lambert fans unite against illegal staircase sex

Over the years, I have received complaints about my column from the minister of information (about an Arts Fest article), from LTA and from one Jay Chou fan.

Today, I got complaints from Adam Lambert fans. I consider this a step up.

Whatever happened to love and acceptance?

The New Paper received these two long e-mails regarding my Outlaws Of Love column. (I'm kinda disappointed Ikea didn't complain about my meatballs column.)

Dear Sir/Madam:

I am writing in with regard to the article titled "Let's Make Some Noise, You Outlaws Of Love". This article is written by S M Ong on Page 35 of The New Paper on 10 March 2013, Sunday.

I am extremely disturbed and disappointed by how the writer, S M Ong, wrote this article.

Not only do the article shows the writer's insensitivity, it also shows immense disrespect towards Adam Lambert and his song, Outlaws Of Love.

Firstly, i would like to know if the writer, S M Ong, did research on the meaning behind the song Outlaws Of Love before writing and publishing this article?

Let me enlighten you with the real meaning behind Outlaws Of Love.

Adam Lambert is trying to express his frustration on the issue of homophobia. Outlaws Of Love expresses Adam's sadness that we are probably not able to change homophobes' minds.

Outlaws Of Love is also about Adam's feelings and personal experience on being part of a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) community that is a little outcasted.

This totally does not have any relation with having illegal sex on the staircase.

Just because the song is OUTLAWS of love, the writer, S M Ong, assumed that the song is about the crime that love brings about, like having illegal sex on the staircase?

I am sorry but the song Outlaws Of Love have absolutely nothing to do with having illegal sex on the staircase.

Secondly, i would like an explanation on why this article has been allowed to be published in the first place.

Even when it is allowed to be published, why is it under the Humour and Act Blur section? I dont see anything funny about this article at all. This is not a laughing matter.

Lastly, I would like an article explaining the real meaning of Outlaws Of Love to be together with an apology to be published as soon as possible. Hope to hear from you soon.

Thank you for your kind attention.


To whomever this may concern,

I have all along found The New Paper a factual and informative newspaper, which was why I was taken aback and disappointed when I came across an article by S M Ong titled 'Let's make some noise, you outlaws of love' in the 10 March 2013 issue of The New Paper regarding singer Adam Lambert's song, Outlaws Of Love.

I had been confused and disappointed when reading it, as the article seemed to have no purpose whatsoever, and appeared to have been written just for the sake of publishing something.

I would like to address the way there is no link between any of the points brought up, and why the song in question is brought up in this redundant article.

Also, I'd like to question the research and professionalism put into the writing of this piece.

What is the point of the whole paper? What is the use of the examples brought up?

Is it talking about the NC16 advisory rating on Adam Lambert's concert? In that case why does the next paragraph suddenly jump to the 'promotion of the gay lifestyle' that media claims he has?

Or is it about 'married 30something' female teachers engaging in sexual acts with minors?

What is the relevance of bringing up the comfort and 'ergonomic advantages' of sexual activities in HDB staircases and the author's 'own experiments'?

A good half of the article appears to be touching on underage sexual activities between adults, namely teachers, and their students, and I fail to see how these unfortunate incidents in Singapore has any relevance of this to American singer Adam Lambert.

Also, what is S M Ong trying to say when he writes 'while a couple may fear being caught having sex in the stairwell (though that may be part of the thrill), it would be far more traumatising for me to chance upon you having sex in the stairwell (especially if I don't have a camera phone with me)'?

Is he trying to promote exhibitionism?

Following that, he mentions that if people have sex public areas, they shouldn't be too loud, but loud enough that passerby can hear 'so that I can at least rush home and get a camera'.

Is he implying that instead of reporting these sexual acts to the authorities, people should instead stand by and film them?

What is the message he is trying to bring across to readers during this article?

The only link between the entire writeup seems to be the song Outlaws Of Love, and were the writer S M Ong to have done his research, it would have been easy to find the meaning of the song.

Outlaws Of Love, in fact, is a song about the trouble the Lesbian, Gay, Transgendered and Bisexual (LGBT) community has to face on a daily basis, and has been commented on by music critics as Outlaws of Love by Adam Lambert comes with a tone of pain.

The pain of having experienced rejection for something that he did not choose. The pain of not being treated equal in something so essential as loving another human being'.

This article came across as an childish and homophobic jab at this song.

In short, this seems like a haphazardly thrown together article that does not make sense whatsoever, with lack of professionalism and research, as well as blatant disrespect towards singer Adam Lambert.

In addition, there is a show of immaturity in the disturbingly perverse snide comments on the authors part.

By linking these stories that has a blatantly different meaning altogether to his aforementioned songs has shown lack of research as well as a lack of proper content to write about.

This writeup has caused my otherwise high regard of The New Paper to drop several notches, and I hope that such a unprofessional article with lack of links, research and form would not appear in your paper again.


And here is my "redundant", "haphazardly thrown together", "unprofessional", "childish and homophobic" article, promoting exhibitionism.

Love and acceptance, as always.

EARLIER: Outlaws of love: Adam Lambert, teachers and sex in the stairwell

Sunday 10 March 2013

Outlaws of love: Adam Lambert, teachers and sex in the stairwell

Pop quiz, hot shot:

What exactly are “outlaws of love”?

Could they be people who love Candy Crush Saga so much that they risk alienating their Facebook friends by spamming them with constant requests for “lives” and “boarding passes”? Unfriend!

Or could “outlaws of love” be people who love the 10-cent Ikea meatballs so much and bought so many on Friday that by afternoon, Ikea stopped takeaway sales?

Maybe someone was buying the meatballs to fill the sinkhole in Clementi Road.

I’m asking because Outlaws Of Love is the title of one of two songs by singer Adam Lambert highlighted by the Media Development Authority (MDA) in its “arts classification database”.

Before Lambert’s performance at The Star Theatre on Friday night, MDA posted on its website:
“The concert has been given an advisory rating for those 16 and above with the consumer advice, ‘some mature content’ as it will feature two songs from Adam Lambert’s audio album, Trespassing – Outlaws Of Love and Shady whose lyrics are based on the singer’s personal experiences and lifestyle.”

Following this rationale, this column should also be given an advisory rating for those 16 and above because it’s based on my “personal experiences and lifestyle”.

And if you’ve read my past columns about my misadventures in Thailand, you would agree.

But wouldn’t that mean that all art should also be given an advisory rating since isn’t just about any piece of creative work is based on its creator’s “personal experiences and lifestyle”?

No, it seems MDA’s beef (not horse meat) is only with the specific “personal experiences and lifestyle” of Lambert.

MDA had received feedback from people “expressing concern” about the concert and the National Council of Churches of Singapore also received a complaint that “the gay lifestyle may be promoted at the concert, and that the concert venue is owned by a church”.

The Star Theatre is located at The Star Performing Arts Centre, owned by Rock Productions, which is part of New Creation Church.

In response, Lambert said: “My show doesn’t promote any lifestyle except the lifestyle of love, acceptance, positivity, joy, connection. And that includes everybody, that’s my message.”

Of course, “everybody” doesn’t include “great actors PRETENDING to be singers” in the movie Les Miserables. Take that, Russell Crowe!

So could the Outlaws Of Love in Lambert’s song be about gay people since the singer is openly gay, and because of Section 377a, homosexuality is technically illegal in Singapore?

Nah, too obvious.

I know! Maybe “outlaws of love” refer to the married 30something female teachers who have been jailed for having sex with underage male students in 2009 and last year.

Last week, another married 30something female teacher pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual intercourse with an underage boy.

They reportedly had sex at a park shelter and HDB staircases.

Putting aside the whole underage sex thing – let’s say it was between two consenting heterosexual adults – isn’t it illegal anyway to have sex in public areas like a park shelter and HDB staircase landings?

So they’re “outlaws of love” in more ways than one.

And putting aside the legality of it, isn’t it also rather uncomfortable and even painful to have sex on the hard surfaces of the park shelter and HDB staircase landings? It can’t be good for your back and knees.

So they’re not only “outlaws of love”, they’re also risking physical injury.

I’m assuming, of course, they didn’t bring along any form of cushioning.

Hey, any port in a storm, right?

Last month, a guy pleaded guilty to having sex twice with a different underage girl each time at two different HDB staircase landings. Another “outlaw of love”?

It should be noted that most of these HDB staircase incidents reportedly happened on the landings between the staircases and not – as one might mistakenly imagine – on the staircases themselves.

While the sloping nature of a staircase may provide certain ergonomic advantages, from my own experiments, I have found that the sharp right angles of the individual steps cancel out the benefits.

But my biggest beef (not horse meat) with people having sex in HDB stairwells is that I live in an HDB block and I use the stairs quite often.

While a couple may fear getting caught having sex in the stairwell (though that may be part of the thrill), it would be far more traumatising for me to chance upon you having sex in the stairwell (especially if I don’t have a camera phone with me).

So I have a small request for these particular “outlaws”:

If you must have sex in the stairwell, please make some noise – not loud enough that you’d get caught, but loud enough to warn approaching passers-by so that I can at least rush home and get a camera.

Judge me if you want, but as Lambert sang: “They say we’ll rot in hell, but I don’t think we will. They’ve branded us enough – outlaws of love.”

Actually, I prefer Led Zeppelin. My favourite song? Stairway To Heaven, of course.

- Published in The New Paper, 10 March 2013

UPDATE: I got angry e-mails from Lambert fans

Sunday 3 March 2013

I have no beef with Ikea meatballs and wieners, but...

When I was at Ikea Alexandra with my wife last week, she wanted to buy the frozen chicken wieners.

They were on sale. A pack of five wieners and a pack of five hot dog buns for $5, down from the usual price of $5.50.

Although that’s a saving of only 50 cents, we’re thinking of buying a car and with the new registration taxes and loan restrictions, every bit helps.

But I said no to the Ikea wieners – and it wasn’t because of the horse meat scandal.

In Europe, “indications” of horse meat have been confirmed in Ikea meatballs and wiener sausages, which were withdrawn from stores. It’s enough to turn you into Morrissey.

And trust me, you don’t want to turn into Morrissey (who is famously anti-meat) because you’ll get sick of people asking you when the Smiths are going to reunite and you’ll get into ridiculous feuds with American talk show hosts over duck hunting.

To be honest, I don’t know what kind of meat is supposed to be in Ikea meat products, but apparently, Seabiscuit is a no-no.

It seems no one is actually hungry enough to eat a horse.

In China, the Swedish company tried to allay horse meat fears by releasing a statement that its meatballs there aren’t from Europe but are produced in China.

Now customers in China are upset to learn that the Swedish meatballs aren’t actually from Sweden. Wait till they find out there isn’t any dog in the hot dogs either.

In Hong Kong, the Wall Street Journal reported that “consumers are typically willing to eat just about anything but have found the idea of eating horse-tainted Bolognese just a bit too hard to swallow”. Who knew the Wall Street Journal could be funny?

Here in Singapore, Ikea has stopped selling its meatballs as a “precautionary measure”, pending results from DNA testing. The company said the meat in its Singapore meatballs are from Australia and Brazil.

In a separate statement regarding its Singapore wieners, Ikea said the sausages “contain only chicken sourced and produced locally”.

So unlike the meatballs, the wieners are still on sale in Singapore, which is fortunate as my family prefer wieners to balls anyway. We can still have our sausage party.

Frankly, I think this whole horse meat thing is a bit of an overreaction. Come on, the chemicals in the processed food we eat every day are more harmful.

Or could it all just be an incredibly devious and elaborate publicity stunt by Ikea to promote its other business?

Oh yah, by the way, Ikea also sells furniture.

This may come as a surprise since if you google “Ikea Singapore”, you’ll get a picture of fried chicken wings.

On Wednesday, Ikea Singapore posted this on its Facebook page:
“We’d like to assure you again that the meatballs sold in Ikea Singapore are safe.

“To the tweeple who said they’d be ‘more surprised if wood was discovered in Ikea furniture’, well, here's a black beauty for you.

“The mane material in our Hemnes bookcase is solid pine, saddled with built-in cable management for all of your electronics. Trot into the store to buy it for just $295.”

Ha! “Black beauty”, “mane material”, “saddled”, “trot into the store” – I get it. Horse jokes. Too bad the Year of the Horse is next year.

Never mind the meatballs. Here’s a bookcase.

Then I noticed another piece of news about Ikea which was overshadowed by the horse meat scare.

On Wednesday as well, a former Ikea food services manager was sentenced to 98 weeks in jail for accepting $2.3 million in bribes to favour a supplier of chicken wings to Ikea.

The crime was uncovered in 2009. My wife swears that the Ikea chicken wings haven’t tasted as good since then. Somehow the illicit wings were yummier.

So could all this fuss over the meatballs and wieners be just a sneaky ploy to distract us from the real Ikea food scandal – the less delicious chicken wings?

Well, at least one thing’s for certain. There can’t possibly be any horse meat in chicken wings. Right?

What about the frozen chicken wieners my wife wanted to buy?

Regardless of whether they contain horse meat, I pointed out to my wife that we would still have to cook them whereas we could buy cooked hot dogs for only a buck each from Ikea right there. They even provide the ketchup and mustard.

It just didn’t make economic sense to get the frozen wieners. So we didn’t.

Instead, we bought five hot dogs – cooked.

That’s the kind of savvy consumer I am. Someone should hire me as finance minister. I have more hair.

Oh, and we also bought six chicken wings for $7.50. My wife may insist they’re less tasty than they were four years ago, but they’re still cheaper by the half dozen.

Perhaps someday we’ll get some furniture from Ikea too.

I’m kidding. About a third of my home furniture are from Ikea. They’re made in Sweden, right?

- Published in The New Paper, 3 March 2013

MORE IKEA FOOD SCARE: We did not receive affected almond cake: Ikea Singapore

UPDATE: Ikea to restart selling meatballs