Sunday 6 April 2014

I know Chris Ho didn't really mean he wants to 'kill Singaporeans', but still...

Remember six months ago?

When people were wondering what the fox said?

When we were watching Sandra Bullock floating in space in a movie where her lines consisted primarily of “Ah! Ah! Ah!”?

When the most critical lunchtime decision you had to make was whether you should order the Beef Samurai Burger or the Chicken Samurai Burger at McDonald’s? (Answer: beef.)

That was also around the time when a mysterious fire at a SingTel facility disrupted Internet service, forcing Singaporeans to talk to each other for a change.

And Kiss92 DJ Arnold Gay held a bonfire to burn his son’s school work and commemorate the end of PSLE as a way to bond with the kid.

Because the two fiery incidents happened within days of one another, I wrote a column suggesting that Gay should be the prime suspect in the investigation to find the cause of the SingTel fire.

What I didn’t write was this “editor’s note” at the end of the column:
“Our writer’s theory is clearly off. Gay did not have anything to do with that blaze.”
Really? Was the editor’s note necessary?

Were people going to read my column and say: “That Arnold Gay started the SingTel fire and I couldn’t get on Twitter for two minutes. Let’s lynch him!”

Or was Gay himself going to call me and complain: “Hey, why did you write in The New Paper on Sunday that I started the SingTel fire? There’s now an angry mob outside my house with pitchforks and torches calling for my head.”

Where would you get a pitchfork in Singapore anyway? Maybe at Mustafa. They sell everything.

But the idea that Gay had anything to do with the SingTel fire is so far-fetched that I would be shocked if anyone took it seriously.

Which brings me to another radio DJ who started a minor firestorm last week.

I have been a fan of Chris Ho’s since the early 80s. I was thrilled to finally meet him two decades ago when I was a guest on a Rediffusion show he was hosting.

The self-proclaimed “Punk Monk Hunk” may have a reputation for being a “rebel” – hence his 1998 book Skew Me You Rebel Meh? – but as a DJ, he was a complete professional and knew his job.

On his Facebook page, however, anything goes. He just lets loose. His frequent targets are the local mainstream media, the Government and Singaporeans in general, whom he likes to call “sheep”.

Here’s a recent post:
“I fully understand that Singaporeans are nice folks at heart. They just can’t help themselves... from denial of repression and the Govt’s all-intrusive control. A fascism that dares not speak its name.”
Wah, cheem ah.

Then on Thursday, the Lush 99.5FM DJ might have gone a little too far, so to speak.

Commenting on a Singapore Army recruitment poster’s headline “How far would you go to protect our home?”, Ho wrote:
“How far...? Let’s see... I’m with you foreigners! Kill the fckn Singaporeans but not my friends, can?”
Do I think he’s advocating genocide? No, but it is consistent with his oft-expressed view that Singaporeans are “sheep” for slaughter.

The backlash came fast, but some defended Ho, saying his “satirical post was taken too seriously”.

You know how at the airport, you’re not allowed to make bomb jokes? I think you should also not be allowed to make jokes about killing anyone on social media.

Yes, not even Justin Bieber.

Insinuating that Arnold Gay might be an arsonist was one thing, but siding with foreigners to kill your fellow countrymen (but not your friends) even ironically might be crossing the line just a tad.

If only Ho had made the comment two days earlier, he could’ve at least claimed it was an April Fool’s prank and offered free ice cream like Ikea did.

So on Friday evening, he posted an apology on his Facebook page – if you can call it that. Although he used the words “apologise” and “sorry”, he didn’t sound very apologetic.

He wrote:
“I will formally apologise here if anyone felt offended by my little satirical remark cos it was not meant to offend anyone at all. Sorry if a wake-up jibe offended your sense of what’s right.”
Maybe we “sheep” should even thank him for the “wake-up jibe”.

In his “apology” for his “kill Singaporeans” comment, he also wrote:
“I was shocked that something so far-fetched was taken so seriously and not seen for what it is – a satirical call for Singaporeans to think for themselves and know what’s what.”

You see? Ho was only trying to save us from ourselves – through satire.

No, wait. Maybe the apology wasn’t meant as an apology, but more satire!

The “sheep” are just too sheep-like to get it.

But as the sheep turn into wolves in the online savaging of Ho over his “little satirical remark”, I do agree with Ho unironically that the whole thing has been blown out of proportion. It’s not like he set anything on fire.

Perhaps an editor’s note isn’t such a bad idea after all.

- Published in The New Paper, 6 April 2014

EARLIER: Chris Ho versus New Nation: Who pwns who?