Sunday 11 January 2015

Ello Ello, Guardian article wrong about 'looser' Singapore

Last week, a Facebook friend shared a link to a Guardian article about Singapore.

The article is called “The price of life in Singapore, city of rules: ‘It’s a Faustian deal.’

What is the article trying to do? Rain on our pricey SG50 parade? Well, we are in the middle of the north-east monsoon season.

A number of Singaporeans were understandably upset by the article. One commented: “This is just rubbish journalism at its climax. And coming from Guardian no less.”

Another wrote: “It’s just frustrating to know that an article like that, from a pretty reputable source, would influence the already skewed perception of Singapore in many foreigners' minds.”

Reputable source? What reputable source? The article is from Guardian!

That’s where I go to get cheap off-brand painkillers and ultra thin winged pads for my wife.

Since when did Guardian become a credible source for non-pharmaceutical, non-cosmetics and non-toiletries related news?

I didn’t even know the pharmacy published articles in the first place. Does Guardian have a newsletter I can subscribe to?

But I must admit the website is quite impressive. It has the latest news about all sorts of things, although there appears to be a peculiar UK bias.

It looks almost like a legit news site, except I couldn’t find any information about the opening hours of the Guardian outlet in the Yew Tee MRT station near my place.

That gets a thumbs-down from me.

But the Guardian website is also where I read the offending article about Singapore, which has been criticised for containing factual inaccuracies.

Let’s start with the “city of rules” label in the headline. It suggests that Singapore has more rules than most other cities.

I think it’s impossible to quantitatively prove this. The photo accompanying the article of a sign prohibiting smoking, food and drinks, littering, running, heel shoes, flying kites and umbrellas is not proof.

If we were counting rules, would “No food and drinks” count as one or two rules? See what I mean by impossible?

Personally, I feel that Singapore has loosened up quite a bit since the old days.

For example, despite being a male with long hair, I am rarely, if ever, attended to last. Also, I now get to see women’s nipples in the cinema.

And we have the Internet, where we can read all these things that upset us so much.

And see more women’s nipples.

Singaporeans are much looser now.

But don’t just take it from me. Ask former Tan Tock Seng Hospital employee Ed Mundsel Bello Ello.

Under the name “Edz Ello”, the Filipino nurse wrote on Facebook: “Now the Singaporeans are loosers in their own country.”

So he added an extra “s” in “loosers”. It’s just an innocent typo. I’m puzzled why so many Singaporeans were so upset by his post.

But back to the Guardian article.

Next, we have a quote from “Eric, a German expat”.

He said: “Nothing goes wrong here. Which sort of means that nothing really happens here.”

Nothing goes wrong here? Really?

There were a few hundred rats in Bukit Batok last month that might disagree. You could ask them — if they hadn’t been exterminated last week.

Perhaps a few escaped to eateries in Clementi and Marina Square.

I wonder what happened to all those hundreds of rodent carcasses. Were they cremated anywhere near a columbarium in Sengkang?

I hope not, because some people are already asking for a refund after finding out their future Fernvale Lea homes would be next to a Chinese temple housing a columbarium.

A rat crematorium in the vicinity would only make it worse.

Anyway, my point is, Eric the German expat is wrong about nothing going wrong here.

There are other points of contention in the article and Guardian has at least addressed one of them.

A note has been added at the end of the article online, which says:
“This article was amended on 6 January 2015 to correct a statement that it is ‘forbidden to buy property in Singapore unless you’re married’. To buy through Singapore’s public Housing and Development Board, you must be at least 21 and purchasing with someone in your ‘family nucleus’ — such as a sibling or spouse — or at least 35 if you are single. There are exceptions for orphans and the widowed.”
Wow. What a convoluted explanation. It would’ve been easier for Guardian to just claim its website was hacked.

Huh? What?

What do you mean it’s a different Guardian?

The Guardian is the name of a British newspaper? That’s where the article is from? Not the place where I buy my Nivea Men brightening mud serum foam to unclog my pores and hydrate my skin?


My column has been hacked!

I thank everyone for their concern and ask for patience for the investigation to take its due course.

I prefer Watsons anyway.

- Published in The New Paper, 11 January 2015