Sunday 10 August 2014

Something missing in this year’s National Day celebration

Our first selfie National Day!

Oh, what hast thou wrought, Mr Baey Yam Keng?

Another year, another NDP is over.

When you put your red shirt in the laundry, remember to wash it separately from your whites or you’ll have something new to wear for next year’s Pink Dot hootenanny at Hong Lim Park.

And if your shirt is both red and white (like our flag), you’re pretty much screwed. After the wash, the white part is going to turn pink.

Speaking of which, has anyone else noticed that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has worn pink for every one of his National Day Message since 2011?

You know what that means, right? (Wink, wink.)

It means he must have forgotten to separate his reds from the whites.

That pink shirt has almost become a National Day tradition, like fireworks, Gurmit Singh urging NDP spectators to “make some noise” and way too much discussion about flags.

Every year, someone will complain about how someone else is displaying the flags wrongly while others point out that fewer flags seem to be displayed every year, which must mean that Singaporeans are less proud of our country than before because of all the foreigners coming in and it’s all the Government’s fault.

And CPF!

The flagging number of flags on display this year has even prompted The Straits Times to find out why.

One reason is that residents’ committees (RCs), who were responsible for blanketing housing estates with flags in previous years, have decided they have better things to do. Another reason, at least according to ST, is that the newer HDB block designs discourage the display of flags.

Oh, so it is the Government’s fault. I mean, aren’t RCs and HDB part of the Government?

I displayed the flag for National Day once a few years ago.

I was grocery shopping at NTUC FairPrice supermarket and happened to see full-size flags for sale at $2 each.

Only two bucks? Hey, why not?

And that was how I ended up displaying the flag that year. If the flag had cost $3, I would’ve given it a second thought. I may be a patriot, but I’m a patriot on a budget.

I wanted to display the flag again the next year for National Day, but in the intervening months, the flag had become rather dusty due to improper storage.

Even I know that displaying a dusty flag is tacky. (Actually, it was my wife who stopped me.)

I thought of washing the flag, but since the flag is red and white, I was afraid the white part would turn pink.

And displaying a red and pink flag is even tackier than displaying a dusty flag.

Of course, I could always get a new flag, but then I already have a flag, as dusty as it is. Do I throw the old flag away? That just seems so… treasonous.

So you can see the conundrum I’m in.

Another National Day staple that’s missing this year is a new theme song, which means another National Day staple is also missing – controversy.

That’s because in the last few years, the National Day controversy usually involves a song, from the Lady Gaga-inspired Fun Pack Song of 2011 to last year’s cyberbullied One Singapore.

But wait, just when you thought the NDP organisers had dodged the bullet, someone complained about a coupon in the fun pack offering puppies on a zero per cent instalment plan and it went viral online.

Yes! The annual tradition is preserved. Heaven forbid we have a controversy-free National Day.

It’s no plagiarising Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance, but it’ll do.

But something else is missing from this year’s National Day, which I find most disappointing.

National Day is the time when we celebrate the achievements of Singaporeans, like the medals we won at the Commonwealth Games that ended last Sunday.

But there is one Singaporean who is once again overlooked.

He has won international awards, like the Golden Horse and Hong Kong Film Awards, for his achievements in film-making.

This Singaporean has worked with such luminaries as Maggie Cheung, Tony Leung, Donnie Yen, Zhang Ziyi, Jackie Chan, Michelle Yeoh, Brendan Fraser, Morgan Freeman, Jason Statham, Sylvester Stallone and Mel Gibson when people still liked Mel Gibson.

What’s more, he has a new movie coming out this week. So yesterday’s NDP would’ve been the perfect occasion to celebrate this Singaporean’s achievements – but it didn’t happen.

The Singaporean I’m talking about is, of course, actor Jet Li.

Can someone please tell me why we aren’t making a bigger deal of this naturalised Singapore citizen who is in The Expendables 3, opening this Thursday?

Is he any less Singaporean than the likes of table tennis players Feng Tianwei, Yu Mengyu, Gao Ning, Jian Zhang and Li Hu?

Jet Li might not have won any sports medals for Singapore, but I think he deserves a Cultural Medallion.

Alas, he probably won’t get one.

This is another example of how Singapore doesn’t appreciate local talent.

I don’t blame him if he doesn’t display the flag, dusty or otherwise.

Bring on SG50!

- Published in The New Paper, 10 August 2014