Monday 30 March 2020

Singapore should be grateful to Trump: 'Very few' infected here, thanks to his guidelines

Dear President Donald Trump,

How are you holding up? Have you been washing your hands?

No, not because of the Covid-19. But because of all the women you grabbed by the you-know-what.

Luckily, since your hands are so tiny, you need less than 20 seconds to wash them.

You don’t have to sing Happy Birthday twice or even once. Just say the words “happy birthday” and you’re done. Save water.

Do stay healthy. Stop shaking hands. At least you don’t touch your face because of all the spray tan.

Practise social distancing. Ask the First Lady how. She has been doing it for years with you.

Watch where you sit when you eat out even though it’s not true that you could be fined by a Safe Distancing Ambassador. That’s – say it with me – fake news.

I just don’t want you to get sick after all you’ve done for Singapore.

And I’m not talking about you holding the historic US-North Korea summit here in 2018 with the other plus-size world leader with fab hair, Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un. I got the commemorative nickel-plated zinc coin from Singapore Mint for $36. No regrets.

I’m talking about how you helped Singapore fight the Chinese virus – I mean coronavirus, early on.

We are so grateful. Words are not sufficient to express our appreciation. I need a tissue. Where’s Grace Flu?

Of course you’re too modest and humble to bring it up yourself. It was your White House Coronavirus Task Force coordinator, Dr Deborah Birx, who let the pussy out of the bag.

During a “virtual town hall” on the US Fox News channel last week, she said:
“Well, remember in Singapore, they took the President’s guidelines and they executed them very early because they could see China next door…

“So very few people became infected in Singapore.”

What a bombshell.

I didn’t know we have been using your guidelines to fight the outbreak all this time.

Singaporeans didn’t get a chance to thank you.

Why did our Government hide this from us?

I thought we were using guidelines from the old Phua Chu Kang Sars Rap video:
  • “Wash your hands whenever you can. Wash with soap, then at least got hope.”
  • “If you're sick, don't go to work even if your boss is a jerk.”
  • “Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. You think everyone want to catch your disease?”

Which are rather similar to a few of your guidelines:
  • “Wash your hands, especially after touching any frequently used item or surface.”
  • “If you feel sick, stay home. Don’t go to work.”
  • “Sneeze or cough into a tissue – or into the inside of your elbow.”

The PCK video came out in 2003. Your guidelines came out earlier this month.

Wait. Does this mean you took the guidelines from our sitcom character?

And our Government took them and released a new PCK music video last week based on those guidelines which are actually from the old PCK Sars video, which was also produced by our Government?

Wow, it’s like a snake eating its own tail. Talk about flu circle.

But I do wonder how our Government could’ve been telling us to wash our hands since January, long before your guidelines came out.

A member of your administration can’t be wrong, right?

After all, according to her, I am able to see China next door. I can even smell the bat soup they’re cooking.

That makes me hungry. I’ll probably get some bak kut teh, which is like bat soup but with less wing. I hear it’s worth breaching a stay-home notice for.

After that, I’ll wash my large hands while singing Imagine.

Before I go, can I just ask you for one favour?

Since you’re the President, can you sign an executive order to make Weird Al Yankovic record a parody of My Sharona called Bye Corona?

Words will not be sufficient to express my appreciation.


- Published in The New Paper, 30 March 2020

Monday 16 March 2020

Cancel culture: I started working from home last week because of coronavirus outbreak

This column has not been cancelled.


It seems like everything else has been cancelled or postponed because of the coronavirus.

Movies that were supposed to open this month, A Quiet Place Part 2 and Mulan, have been postponed indefinitely.

Next month is No Time To Die for James Bond so the movie has been rescheduled to die another day in November, as 007 is no match for Covid-19.

Fortunately, tomorrow never dies. But what if tomorrow never comes?

It was shipping expert and former Boyzone studmuffin Ronan Keating who said it best: “Life is a roller coaster, just gotta ride it.”

Speaking of cute white guys who sing, A-ha cancelled their Singapore concert because even they can’t take on the coronavirus.

Or take the coronovirus on.

Fortunately, the virus also repelled my mortal enemy, quasi-jazz musician Kenny G, from performing here last month.

Unfortunately, it was announced last week that the greatest thrash metal band ever that is not Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer or Anthrax – I’m talking about Testament – cancelled their March 25 concert here.

Fortunately, the Scorpions and Whitesnake still performed here earlier this month because it’s bats we have to worry about.

You know what else is not cancelled? Qing Ming.

Despite the outbreak and advisory about social distancing, my mother still insists on making her annual pilgrimage to Choa Chu Kang Columbarium next month, and my sister and I have to accompany her.

Isn’t there some restriction on events with 250 people or more (not counting the dead)?

It would be rather silly if we end up dead from visiting the dead.

Hey, life is a roller coaster, I remind myself. Just gotta ride it.

Last week, I was on my way to work when I received a call that I didn’t have to go to work any more.

Has work been cancelled too?

Not quite.

Someone in my office has been quarantined and so now everyone, including me, has to work from home.

For the first time since the outbreak, the coronavirus has affected me personally.

Three weeks ago, I found out that someone living on my street was a confirmed case. Even though it was a bit disconcerting, life pretty much went on as usual.

But working from home is a big change for me. No one never expects your life to turn into Fifth Harmony song.

When I received the call, I didn’t know whether to feel happy or sad. I just felt disoriented. Life is a roller coaster, just gotta ride it.

Going to work without having to “go” to work is weird.

There’s no buffer period during the commute for me to transition from my “home” mode to “work” mode.

What’s the difference between the “home” mode and “work” mode?

The level of forbearance.

Besides saving time and money on the commute, the other obvious advantage of working from home is no dress code.

I could be working naked. (Because Singapore is hot, you know, and I don't have air-conditioning.)

My colleagues could be working naked.

If I just imagine them working naked, should I report myself to HR?

Another benefit is that my colleagues won’t complain about me playing Boyzone a bit too loudly because they’re somewhere else.

It’s a sign of the times, girl.

Could this become the new normal? Do I want it to become the new normal?

I’m just a little old-fashioned, but I still find it more efficient to talk to each other in person than through messages.

Even if I have to put on clothes.

Good thing I don’t have to wear anything to write this column.

Oops. Perhaps it would have been best if I had said nothing at all.

- Published in The New Paper, 16 March 2020

Hello Smong!

Hope you're doing well, and keeping safe. Thanks for making my day - I survive on puns and jokes, and had been hanging on to Arnie's reply to where he got his toilet rolls - Aisle B, back - for a week :) And now, your column today will keep me smiling while I work from home (fully clothed).

Ronan is my favouritest artiste, so I had instantly forgiven him for his shipping gaffe... here's a tribute to his song titles, and also to you for providing the best reason to read Today!

The way you make me feel, giving me brighter days - if I don't tell you now, I might be lost for words. Back in the day without Covid-19, we did not have to stay so far away... Still, I am blown away by the efforts everyone's putting in. I love it when we do the SG-United thing, up until the point I realised it was not Covid-19 related, but Dorscon Pink instead. I cannot say I wouldn't change a thing, or can bear to do it all over again, especially the long goodbye from my dear colleagues - we are on a worldwide mandatory Work From Home order - all promised solemnly to be clothed for our team video calls).

Thank you, and please keep up the great work!

Best regards,

Tuesday 3 March 2020

People are making the same damn joke about Ronan Keating's 'viral' Instagram post

Yes, I get it already. Ronan Keating says it best when he says nothing at all.

What irritates me about this is that although When You Say Nothing At All is one of ex-Boyzone singer's best known songs, his is not the best version of the song.

The definitive and my favourite version is by bluegrass musician Alison Krauss, whom Keating covered.

Even Krauss's version is a cover of country legend Keith Whitley's original.

So kudos to Black Dot Research for going with another Keating hit.

UPDATE: The Straits Times just went with an old Boyzone favourite.

Monday 2 March 2020

Don't panic: Someone living on my street has the coronavirus

On Saturday, I finally caved.

I bought a box of 50 masks for $35 from a pop-up store in the basement of Yew Tee Point. (Actually, it was more like a pop-up table.)

So each three-ply mask costs 70 cents. I wonder whether I might have overpaid.

With that kind of money, I could have bought plenty of Asian flat croissants.

Unlike many people, I didn’t join the long queues to stock up for the zombie apocalypse when the Dorscon level was raised to the colour of the US President’s face last month.

I never “sia suay” one.

Admittedly, I have been rather smug about it.

I believe I can’t possibly get the coronavirus since I’m too poor to travel, too godless to attend church and too anti-social to be in close contact with another human being for 30 minutes.

I’m more likely to get pregnant from sperm in a swimming pool or be the next prime minister of Malaysia.

So while I have been washing my hands with soap as advised, I have also been touching my face like crazy, which is not advised. (It’s a nervous tic, okay?)

But that sense of invulnerability was snapped to dust last Friday.

My Thanos was the news that two new confirmed Covid-19 cases reside in Choa Chu Kang – one of them on the same street as me!

That’s literally too close to home. He could even be living in my block. Who knows? That information wasn’t released.

To reassure residents, my Member of Parliament, Mr Alex Yam, said in a Facebook video: “So far there’s no evidence of a community spread within our town.”

He added that the town council had done “one additional deep cleansing” of common areas as a precaution.

“Therefore, there is no need for alarm. There’s no need to panic,” he said.

You know that scene in Inception where Joseph Gordon-Levitt tells the Japanese guy not to think about elephants, which makes the Japanese guy think about elephants?

That was my MP telling me not to panic, which made me think about panicking.

And he said it again later in the video. So if I wasn’t panicking yet, I was reminded a second time.

But I managed to resist this unintended reverse psychology and the urge to hide under the covers of my bed and never come out.

However, I still felt the need to do something – anything – even if it’s just to give me the comforting illusion of control over a situation that is out of my control.

I bought the masks.

They were manufactured in Indonesia, which means they must be good since the country is so far “virus-free”. (UPDATE: Maybe I jinxed it.)

The masks have flowers on them too.

So even if they don’t protect me from Covid-19, at least they look pretty.

That’s 35 bucks well-spent. Or so I keep telling myself.

I just wish I could stop touching my face though.

Or thinking about elephants.

- Published in The New Paper, 2 March 2020