Monday 31 July 2017

Sorry, Michelle Chong, I heck care — but at least Khaw Boon Wan has pride in his work

Dear Michelle Chong,

I’m sorry. You were right.

I saw your viral Facebook post.

It’s like what you said — people in Singapore don’t “have any pride in their work and just have a ‘pass up homework’ heck-care attitude”.

You wrote:
“They don’t check their work, don’t care about how it turns out, don’t take that extra step to value-add or think about how to make it better, don’t want to improve etc.

“It’s a ‘why should I bother? It’s not like I’m getting paid very much for this job’ or ‘please lah it’s just a job right?’ or ‘do extra for what? I’m still getting the same salary right?’ attitude.”

When I read that, I felt like you were scolding me directly.

Even though we haven’t spoken to each other since we worked together on that failed TV pilot at Mediacorp 10 years ago, you still know me so well.

Writing this column is like homework.

I have such a “heck-care attitude” that I can’t even bother to do this column every week any more. It’s now every two weeks and I still don’t care how it turns out.

Like in my last column, I didn’t care that I used the word “boobs” way too many times.

And I’m still getting the same salary!

Instead of taking that extra step to value-add, I’m taking that extra step to value-subtract.

It’s not like I’m getting paid very much for this job.

That’s why I don't check my work. I expect my editors to check my work for me. After all, they are paid more than I am.

But apparently, they too don’t have any pride in their work because they let me use the word “boobs” in my last column way too many times.

However, I doubt that everyone (or even most people) is as “heck care” as me and my editors.

So to say that “people here generally don’t care about what they do” is an unfair generalisation.

In your Facebook post, you cited examples of “shoddy work” by a post-production house and an interior design firm you hired, but I don’t know their side of the story.

For instance, some have criticised McDonald’s for launching the Nasi Lemak Burger for National Day only to run out of the burger two weeks before National Day, which kind of defeated the purpose of launching the burger for National Day.

But as McDonald’s explained, the burger sold out due to “overwhelming demand”.

So it’s actually the people’s fault for buying too many Nasi Lemak Burgers. I bought four myself. I apologise for my overwhelming patriotism.

Many have also been unhappy about the frequent MRT delays in recent weeks.

But as Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure and Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan pointed out on Thursday, the MRT has become three times more reliable in the two years since he took charge.

That’s one man who has pride in his work.

Too bad he doesn’t count the delays caused by the testing of the new signalling system because they happen only “once in 30 years”.

Like “ponding”.

The minister blamed the press for “frightening” readers.

Mr Khaw said:
“If it were so simple, they don’t need us. We can ask the reporter to run the train system.”
Having written one or two or half a dozen articles about train delays (even though I’m not a “reporter” per se), I was afraid for a moment that I would be asked to run the MRT.

But then I thought, hey, could I do much worse?

Even with my “heck care” attitude.

You know what’s the first thing I would do?

Change a few station names.

We have too many stations with “Tuas” in their names — Tuas Crescent, Tuas West Road and Tuas Link.

As if we’re not confused enough by Marina Bay/Marina South Pier and Farrer Park/Farrer Road, which aren’t even on the same line!

You know what I’m talking about, right? You take the MRT all the time.

So I do agree with you, Michelle. At least, partially.

Yes, there are people — such as whoever named the MRT stations — who don’t have any pride in their work.

Not just me.

But not everyone.

Would it be too abrupt to end the column here?

Aiyah, heck care lah.

- Published in The New Paper, 31 July 2017

Friday 21 July 2017

Halimah Yacob did not delete info about Indian descent on Wikipedia page because it's still there unless it has been deleted again

On Wednesday, The Independent Singapore speculated: Did Halimah Yacob delete info about Indian descent from Wikipedia page?

The short answer is: I don't think so.

The long answer is the rest of this blog post.

This is what the website published:
Speaker of Parliament Mdm Halimah Yacob’s Wikipedia page appears to have been edited recently. Her page now does not show that she is a “Singaporean politician of Indian descent” as it previously did.

Her page may have been spruced up in anticipation of the upcoming Presidential election which Mdm Halimah is considering contesting...

... Perhaps Mdm Halimah’s Wikipedia page was edited to avoid claims and speculation that she is unfit to run in the presidential race, even though she is a certified Malay. The deletion of her ancestry, however, may have backfired as netizens circulating the photo have taken the edits as evidence that Mdm Halimah is trying to bury her origins.

This article presumes that until recently, the Wikipedia all along had the words "of Indian descent" when actually, the opposite is true.

This can be easily verified by viewing the history of the Halimah Yacob page, which I did.

The words "of Indian descent" were added only less than two weeks ago on July 12.

Four days later, the words were removed by another Wikipedia user, claiming it was vandalism.

Three hours later, a third user Jane Dawson reinstated the words, explaining: "Undid sneaky edits pretending to fix vandalism when no vandalism is found."

Four hours later, the second user deleted the words again.

Minutes later, the user who originally added the words reinstated them again.

Half an hour later, the second user deleted the words, stating: "No reliable sources. Please cite a reliable source. Your IP address '' has been reported for repeated vandalism."

Five minutes later, a fourth user Arjayjay reinstated the words again.

Seven minutes later, a fifth user Reid62 deleted the words, stating: "Restore back to originals. Please insert a reliable sources."

Six minutes later, Arjayjay reinstated the words again, commenting: "Rv-V stop deleting sources, CN tags, categories and adding flag in infobox."

Fifteen minutes later, the second user (the original deleter) deleted the words again.

Eighteen minutes later, the user who introduced the words reinstated them again.

Nineteen minutes later, a sixth user deleted the words to revert to the pre-edit war version from July 11, the good old days.

But the originator of the words would have none of it and reinstated "of Indian descent" about an hour later.

Half an hour later, the original deleter deleted the words again, complaining of vandalism and "disruptive editing".

More than two hours later, a seventh user Materialscientist reinstated the words again.

All that happened on Sunday.

So depending on what time of the day you went to the Halimah Yacob Wikipedia page, you would get different information.

If you asked me, describing her as being "of Indian descent" is inaccurate. She is of Indian and Malay descent. (UPDATE: On Aug 5, the Wikipedia page was edited - not by me - to say exactly that.)

Early Monday morning, Reid62 returned to delete the words again, kicking off the new day with another cycle of delete-reinstate-delete-reinstate-delete-reinstate-delete...

On Tuesday, reinstater Arjayjay had it with deleter Reid62, stating: "Rv deleting sourced information - you were blocked for this yesterday but have just continued where you left of."

Deleter Reid 62 retorted: "Provide me any reliable sources to your edits. The citations were fabricated, false and unfounded."

In other words, fake news!

Reinstater Arjayjay replied: "Stop deleting sources, unless you can show they are unreliable - you were blocked for this yesterday."

Deleter Reid 62 replied: "Of course, they're unreliable because there's no valid source to it. All but smear campaign against this politician. I was blocked because of reverts."

After that, the page was finally locked for "persistent disruptive editing".

The locked version didn't have the words "of Indian descent".

The next day, The Independent Singapore published its article.

The locked "of Indian descent"-less version lasted about three days until this morning when the words were reinstated by another user Sue, who also added "born to a Malay Mother and an Indian-Muslim father".

Sue declared: "Added content that was deleted during the last edit war, as per consensus established in the talk page. If anyone believes this content should be removed, please proceed to the talk page to discuss."

At least war is over.

For now.

UPDATE: The war continues with the return of Reid62 and Arjayjay.

At 12.22pm on July 21, Reid62 deleted "of Indian decent, born to a Malay mother and an Indian-Muslim father" and questioned Sue's motives: "Is 'Sue' linked to Independent.Sg for that site is rogue, unregistered, unlicensed news site that provides many unverified, inaccurate sources; fake news."

Three minutes later, Arjayjay reinstated the words.

Here we go again.

Monday 17 July 2017

Boob riddance? 10 years ago, Crazy Horse closed down in Singapore — now it's back

It’s like 2005 all over again.

Except it isn’t.

Crazy Horse is coming to Singapore, just like 12 years ago.

No, I’m not talking about Neil Young’s occasional backing band, you dad rock-listening geezer.

I’m talking about the 65-year-old topless cabaret from Paris that is opening at Marina Bay Sands (MBS) in October.

Yes, “artistic” naked European boobs are back.

But unlike in 2005 when controversy preceded the opening of Crazy Horse Singapore in Clarke Quay, this time, no one seems to care.

Well, I care.

I guess most Singaporeans are too preoccupied with McDonald’s nasi-less Nasi Lemak Burger and Miss Singapore Beauty Pageant contestants.

Come back, Ris Low, all is forgiven?

I’m amazed that these contestants are getting so much attention when they didn’t even show their boobs.

Unlike the dancers at Crazy Horse, which endured its own slings and arrows from Singaporeans in 2005 despite being so “artistic”.

A year earlier, the Government had announced plans to develop casinos — sorry, I mean integrated resorts — to boost the economy.

Gambling and topless women as tourist attractions? No wonder some Singaporeans were concerned that we were living up to the “sin” in Singapore.

But even before the first casino — sorry, I mean integrated resort — opened in 2010, Crazy Horse Singapore had galloped out of business in 2007.

It lasted about 15 months. Apparently, sex didn’t sell (although gambling still does).

Crazy Horse Singapore was hobbled by advertising guidelines imposed by the Government that forbade visuals of the dancers in the ads among other restrictions.

That was probably why there were no ads touting: “Naked boobs! Now that I got your attention… more naked boobs!”

It was a little sad to say boob-bye to Crazy Horse especially since I had tried to save the show with my own show.

I was working on the Phua Chu Kang sitcom at the time and decided to have an episode featuring the topless Crazy Horse dancers (with the naughty bits digitally blurred, of course) to get some publicity for both shows and put the “boob” back in boob tube.

The big climactic scene had Gurmit Singh as Phua Chu Kang crashing the actual Crazy Horse Singapore stage while the dancers were performing. Of course, I had to be there on location to oversee the filming.

To my disappointment, fearing controversy, Mediacorp downplayed the Crazy Horse aspect of the episode and, unlike this column, avoided any mention of naked boobs in the promos.

So the episode came and went without fanfare — though you can now watch it online at Mediacorp’s video-streaming site, Toggle.

The Season 8 episode is called Crazy Like A Horse, what else?

Two months after it aired on Channel 5, Crazy Horse Singapore fled the barn.

And now, 10 years later, the mentally-ill filly is back — but only from Oct 11 to 29 at the Mastercard Grand Theatre in MBS.

By the way, there’s a non-affiliated Crazy Horse disco pub at Orchard Towers, which is a whole different thing, so don’t pick the wrong horse.

The MBS show is rated R18 for nudity. Well, duh.

Individual ticket prices range from $55 to $175, but senior citizens, NSF and students (yes, students) can get in for $35.

In terms of dollars per naked boobage, that’s a pretty boob deal, I mean, good deal.

Or you can watch the PCK episode online for free and spend the money on Nasi Lemak Burgers instead.

If you put two burgers side by side, they kind of look like boobs.

- Published in The New Paper, 17 July 2017

Monday 3 July 2017

I wore my musty old navy uniform to save $1.72 on NS50 Free Travel Day

That's it?

After 50 years of young Singaporean men giving up the best years of our lives in service of our nation, all we get is one measly day of free bus and train rides?

And NS50 Free Travel Day wasn’t even on a Saturday or Sunday when you can go out and enjoy yourself. It was last Friday when most people had to work.

Sure, you could take the train for free to see Britney Spears that night, but still.

Wouldn't it make more sense to have NS50 Free Travel Day on Saturday especially since SAF Day was on Saturday?

Or was the Government afraid to be seen as handing out free rides to Pink Dot on the same day?

But only current and former servicemen were eligible for the free rides and to prove you were eligible, you had to wear your service uniform.

And as far as I know, SAF uniforms don't come in pink.

Wearing the uniform isn't a problem for current servicemen, but for “lao peng” (“old soldiers”) like myself, even if we do have our old uniform, would it still fit?

Forget it. I’m not so cheapskate.

I wasn’t going to dig out my musty old uniform just to save $1.72 on the MRT ride to work.

But then I realised that I have yet to receive my NS50 Recognition Package consisting of $100 worth of vouchers and this Free Travel Day could be all I’m getting.

Who was I kidding?

I am a cheapskate.

I decided to dig out my musty old uniform just to save $1.72 on the MRT ride to work.

$1.72 is better than nothing.

It has been 11 years since I was “retired” from the navy where I was a medic.

I’m proud to say that as a medic, I may not have saved anyone's life, but I didn’t get anyone killed either.

Because I started my national service in the army before joining the navy, I have three different sets of uniforms I could wear for NS50 Free Travel Day.

Unfortunately, I can no longer fit into the pants of my army No. 4 and navy No. 3 due to all the rainbow cake I ate.

Fortunately, I could still fit into my old navy No. 4 because it’s a coverall, which is kinder to my 51-year-old waistline.

Unfortunately, the coverall makes me look less like a serviceman and more like a repairman.

Fortunately for current navy servicemen, the navy No. 4 uniform has since been updated to match the army No. 4 so they look like actual soldiers.

Unfortunately for me, I have only the old navy No. 4 onesie so I look like an actual mechanic.

To make sure the MRT station staff wouldn’t mistake me for someone you call to fix the air-conditioning, I wore a cap that says Republic of Singapore Navy right upfront.

The cap also helped to cover up another problem — my long hair.

Even though my Kylo Ren mane looks wildly out of place in uniform, I wasn't going to cut it just for one day of free travel. Two days, maybe.

Instead, I tied my hair in a ponytail and put on the cap, and hey, presto, I looked like I had an acceptable military haircut.

At least from the front.

I was basically cosplaying as an NSman.

All this just to save $1.72.

I couldn't wait for NS50 Free Travel Day.

Friday eventually came... and there was an MRT breakdown.

On NS50 Free Travel Day!

The morning rush-hour delay affected trains from Woodlands to Ang Mo Kio.

SMRT’s theme song should be Oops I Did It Again after it hit us, baby, one more time with another breakdown.

It was the fourth service disruption in as many days.

How can? This is the thanks we get for sacrificing the best years of lives for our country?

Hey, SMRT, never mind the free travel. Just get us to work on time!

I give you the $1.72.

When I arrived at my workplace, a colleague couldn't believe I actually wore my faded old SAF uniform just to get a free ride.

“Have you no dignity?” he asked.

No, I gave it up for $1.72.

At least I didn't cut my hair.

I’m still waiting for my NS50 Recognition Package vouchers.

- Published in The New Paper, 3 July 2017

Saturday 1 July 2017

My second Tri-Factor race: Run 5.25km, swim 1km, run 10.5km

Once again, I signed up for a race by mistake.

Because of a typo on the Tri-Factor Series website, I thought I was signing up for a Standard race consisting of a 5.25km run, 500m swim and 10.5km run.

It was only after completing my registration online did I realise the swim leg was actually 1,000m.

The farthest I swam in a race was 750m so one full kilometre was a bit scary for me.

My previous Tr-Factor race was run 6km, swim 500m and run 6km.

So I posted a message on the Tri-Factor Facebook page:

No one from Tri-Factor contacted me, but that's OK.

I just hoped that the swim leg would be broken into two loops, thus making it less intimidating.

When the route map was released, I saw that I got my wish.

My goal was just to survive, not break any personal records.

For the first time, my wife didn't accompany me to a run-swim event in case I drown. I guess I had joined and survived enough of these races that she could be complacent.

So I had to take my own pictures this morning.

I think I have those shoes.

I had never felt so tired after a race.

Usually, after a half marathon, my legs would be in pain. In this case, I felt no pain, but I was so exhausted, I had to lie down for a while.

My time for the 5.25km run was half an hour, which is around my usual time.

I believe I took the longest to complete the 1km swim, 46+ minutes.

And it took me almost 90 minutes to run the final 10.5km, which was about half an hour more than if I hadn't run 5.25km and swam 1km beforehand.

I didn't come in last, although it felt like I did.

EARLIER: My first Tri-Factor race: Run 6km, swim 500m, run 6km