t Double Yellow's Musings: June 2005

Double Yellow's Musings

The warped mind of Double Yellow craves for humor everyday. His daily dose comes from The Straits Times, The Sunday Times, Today, Channelnewsasia, etc. He also thinks that because of this preamble, this blog will never get featured in the local media. And of course, please read the Disclaimer before embarking on the journey.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Garden Bathroom in a Garden City

I really had no idea that it was this easy. All I had to do was to put a small money plant in my bathroom and immediately I had a “garden bathroom in a garden city”. That’s correct… if an Australian university can decorate their campus with greenery and our media can call it a “garden university in a garden city”, my bathroom is no worse. Seriously, we tear down a whole park in the centre of town to build the allegedly prestigious Singapore Management University (SMU) and now when a private university decides to plant some trees on its campus, it becomes…. “garden university in a garden city”?

The focus of the prestigious OZ uni is more about its green campus and less about its academic programs. According to the news report, the design of the campus is “unique and inspired”. Whenever you read that, it means…. “copied and modified”. Of course wat…they plan to build a so-called verandah that will “serve as a central meeting point for students from various disciplines”. It’s all very simple isn’t it? Have an open space somewhere in the middle of your campus and immediately it becomes a meeting point where brilliant minds gather, collaborate, come up with hundreds of patents, probably even win a Nobel Prize and most importantly, make Singapore into an education hub. NUS, NTU, NP, NYP all got such open spaces wat....

According to the architect, the new campus will “….dissolve all boundaries, not just culturally but also physically…”.Can you imagine what will go on in that campus? We will have an inter-cultural romp every weekend! Frolic that is condoned by the authorities…! Now I’m really envious….:p

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

4 New Words for the S'porean Vocabulary

There are three phrases that the gahmen would like all Singaporeans to know…economic growth, political stability and integrated resorts. At every known opportunity, we are not spared the importance of the above three expressions. I think its time for Singaporeans to expand their vocabulary a bit. Here are four words that that all of us should know….

Humor: something that is or is designed to be comical or amusing

Sarcasm: a mode of satirical wit depending for its effect on bitter, caustic, and often ironic language that is usually directed against an individual

Tongue-in-cheek: characterized by insincerity, irony, or whimsical exaggeration

Jest: an utterance (as a jeer or quip) intended to be taken as mockery or humor

Why? Well, it’s in line with the gahmen’s new campaign to get people to speak better Engrrish. More importantly, on numerous occasions, we make utter fools of ourselves by not recognizing these and responding in the most serious gahmen tone possible.

For instance, take the case of Neil Humphreys’ proposal to set up a nudist colony here. He was being sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek, and humorous. When he suggested the setting up of a nudist colony in Singapore, he was saying it in jest. Indeed, he was taking a pot shot at our gahmen who manage to “legalize and tax every form of gambling known to man” and yet become all conservative and traditional (read Asian values) when it comes to certain other forms of opening up.

Not surprisingly, the next day, a letter writer to the paper responds that she was aghast at the nudist colony suggestion. While she acknowledges that Humphreys’ piece was tongue-in-cheek (although I very much doubt she knows what it means), she continues….people wear clothes out of modesty, no statistical evidence of increasing tourism, why give a minority nudist group space in Singapore when a larger group can benefit from the same space by building something else (you had yet another shopping mall in mind, lady?), blah, blah blah. That’s not all....another letter writer responds to the first reply and argues that golf courses in Singapore serve only a minority but take up a lot of space. Hence the reasons given by the first letter writer may not be very valid.

Please don’t tell me that the two letter writers were also being sarcastic coz if they were, I feel like puking at the standard of Singaporean humor. We will be forty years old in a few weeks, yet we still behave like kindergarten kids.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Singapore...boleh! Other countries...shitleh!

It is an open secret that our local media always dishes out good news when it comes to Singapore and bad news when it comes to other countries. I was generally free this Sunday and decided to take stock of the current situation. Here are the results from The Sunday Times, 26 June 2005....

Local News

1. Mobile Phone Addiction, Page 3, NEUTRAL
2. Boy, 15, feared drowned in waters off Lower Seletar Reservoir, Page 4, NEUTRAL
3. Top Youth Award for disabled swimmer, Page 6, GOOD
4. Added post for Ng Eng Hen: 2nd Defence Minister, Page 6, GOOD
5. NDP Aerial rehearsal draws crowd, Page 7, GOOD
6. Heads of top US and Pacific varsities to meet here, Page 7, GOOD
7. Trio gets $6000 in vouchers in shopping challenge win, Page 8, GOOD
8. Specialist docs right on your doorstep, Page 8, GOOD
9. Fancy eating orchids?, Page 9, NEUTRAL
10. Food factory tours are a big hit in heartland, Page 10, GOOD
11. He’s been named…Mr. Beautiful, Page 11, GOOD
12. Strange sounds due to water in PVC pipes, Page 12, NEUTRAL
13. Man subdued with stun gun after four-hour stand off, Page 12, GOOD*
14. Medical insurance: which type should you buy first, Page 18, NEUTRAL
15. More leeway now for altering landed properties, Page 20, GOOD
16. NUS 100 years young, Page 22, GOOD
17. Students learn about business by running campus café, Page 23, GOOD
18. Lend a light, Page 24, BAD
19. Why not make Singapore a 24/7 living city?, Page 24, NEUTRAL
20. A well-run IOC session will augur well for Singapore, Page 27, GOOD
21. 11 swimmers qualify for SEA games on merit, Page 32, GOOD

* I have marked this article good because the article was more about the stun gun being used than about why the guy and why he had to be subdued.

Overseas News

1. Tsunami aid not going to the poor, Page 1, BAD
2. KL Minister guilty of graft, Page 13, BAD
3. Schapelle Corby’s Double Trouble, Page 14, BAD
4. Descendant of Mughal Emperor lays claim to Taj Mahal, Page 14, BAD
5. Disney drops shark’s fin from HK menu after global protest, Page 14, BAD
6. Oprah’s not going to let Hermes snub go easily, Page 14, BAD
7. Hardline mayor will be new Iran President, Page 15, BAD
8. Pretty, bright and dangerous killer, page 17, BAD
9. U.S. confirms home grown case of mad-cow disease, page 17, BAD
10. Public shaming in Chicago, Page 36, BAD
11. British mum faces the music, Page 36, BAD
12. Iranian web censorship, Page 36, BAD
13. Australian spammer in court, Page 36, BAD

Since we seem to like statistics so much, here goes… out of 21 articles on local news, a whopping 14 were GOOD, 6 were NEUTRAL and a measly 1 can be considered BAD. Not very surprisingly, out of 13 articles on foreign news, all were BAD. Singapore, if you have not realized oredi, is one loooong stream of GOOD news.....

It’s significant that there were not any BAD articles about either China or India….we are probably concluding some important economic agreement with them at the moment :p

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Osama spotted in Spore

I found the "Osama bin Laden" sale tag in a Geylang Serai shop during Hari Raya last year. Pretty bold in my opinion for someone in Singapore to put this up. When I was taking the picture, the owners of the stall gave me waring glances... like I was from ISD or something. But the fact that I didnt buy anything from their store would have pissed them off more :p

The "Osama was here" graffiti was scribbled behind a seat in a public bus. This too, in my opinion, is pretty bold for Singapore.

Graffiti, among a whole host of things, are banned in Singapore. Graffiti here can be done only in places that are 'authorized' and have a large sign that says something to the effect..."Singapore's Creative Zone". Invariably, the place will be opened by a Minister followed by a report in the local newspaper on how Singapore is opening up and how creative people are here. There might also be a contest on the most 'creative' graffiti, the prize of which may be two spray paint cans and of course, a certificate.

But back to the two Osama pics....they are interesting coz I wonder whether the Ministry of Home Affairs will consider it "flirting with terrorism" (this was the term used by one good Minister warning Singaporeans not to get involved in terrorism-related activities. And like many rules here, it is defined very vaguely).

By the way, this post was put up on tomorrow.sg - a site that was set up by a group of Singapore bloggers who do bo liao things!! :)...

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

National Education in Sentosa

To all those of you who think National Education is meant only for Singaporeans, you cannot be more wrong. I happened to be at Sentosa a few weeks ago showing around visitors. Not sure why, but we decided to see the Merlion. We were forced to watch a video on the history of Merlion (you cannot escape without watching this video). As the history of the Merlion is closely related to the history of Singapore, it goes something like this….. (this is obviously not the exact transcript but it pretty much runs something like this)

Once upon a time, there was a GREAT king called Utama. One day, he went hunting and chased a deer up a hill. From the top of the hill, he saw this GREAT island in the horizon. He immediately was intrigued by this land in the distance and he set sail to explore what this GREAT island had in store for him. He encountered great many hurdles (blah, blah details in the actual story) but he never gave up in his quest to reach this GREAT island. And when he finally got there, he saw a lion and thought that this creature was guarding this GREAT land and he decided to call this GREAT land Singapura.

First, why is it that the history of Singapore always begins with this Utama dude? Its almost like nobody (even the indigenous Orang Asli) lived here before that.

Second, as is obvious from above, the supposed greatness of Singapore was its destiny. Funny coz if Singapore was really meant to be great and successful even from the Utama times, maybe we could have achieved all this without you know who….

Third and most important, most of the tourists watching this fell asleep.

Monday, June 20, 2005

GLC's Overseas Troubles

Our GLC’s seem to having some more of the usual trouble they face when they venture overseas. After SIA’s bid for the trans-Atlantic route failed yet again, it’s now the turn of Singtel who was the lowest bidder for a stake in a Pakistan telecom operator. I’m not very sure how well Singtel did their homework as their bid is shocking. The winner, Etisalat’s bid was not ten, not twenty, not thirty, but more than a whopping ONE HUNDRED percent over Singtel’s.

Before the results were announced, our local media were at their usual best. They never fail to highlight at every opportunity they can find to highlight how well our GLC's are doing. Singtel's attempt to gain a share of the Pakistan telecom market was no exception. Our media interviewed so-called experts and analysts who supposedly knew how the bidding works and came up with this lovely headline - "SingTel favourite for Pakistan Telecom stake".

After this, looks like our media have a thing or two to learn (although I am doubtful they will). Our GLC’s too are yet to fully get the hang of the politics behind doing business in the region (about this I am more slightly more optimistic).

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Myopia of Teens in Love

A lot of things seem to be upsetting us these days. The first issue deals with myopia in our school-going kids. It’s a known fact that a majority of our kids wear spectacles as they suffer from shortsightedness. This pains us so much that we begin to look for who to blame. In the process, we look for places where our chewren strain their eyes. Somehow there seems to be a consensus that whiteboards in schools are the root cause of myopia (see The Straits Times, 19 Jun 2005, p.9). While doctors have suggested that television and genes to be the problem, not all parents buy the explanation. Of course, how can you even think we spoil our chewren’s eyes? We have the best gene pool that’s out there. We come from the best-run, most efficient country in the world and many of us don’t even vote in general elections – how could our genes have such a bad trait? It must be something else…..After a few seconds of deep thought, I think I have figured out the real reason. I think our kids are being kidnapped by aliens and injected with something that causes myopia. That must be it…. if you cant blame the gahmen, teachers, cabbies, civil service, bad car drivers or foreign talent, it must be forces from the dark side that must be causing so much pain to our cute chewren.

The second problem that seems to be nagging us is with teenagers showing PDA (no lah, not Personal Digital Assistant but Public Display of Affection) – (see The Straits Times, 19 Jun 2005, p.37). When we see two teenagers kissing passionately in the MRT for instance, we have a few choices…..(1) watch intently because we could have a thing or two to learn about kissing from these teens (2) drool because we are getting a free RA show or (3) reminiscence about the things we did when we were teens in every dark corner we could find. But NO….. we feel squeamish and look away. We adult Singaporeans who breathe, eat and excrete so-called Asian values, this kind of PDA is unacceptable. Maybe hor, we should set up a police squad to fine these teenagers if they go beyond holding hands. How will we find these ‘errant’ teens? Like the movie Minority Report, even before these teenagers grope each other, police will sweep down and charge them on the spot. Only then can we adults can walk peacefully in public places.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Mobile Food Vans

Our civil service dudes get to attend a lot of courses - do they have one for flexibility and logic? If so, it should be made compulsory. If not, they urgently require one to be put in place. Probably the people at URA need to be the first to attend the course. Coz according to them, mobile food vans will need to leave their car parks when the demand for them is high.

"....we are able to let a small number of mobile food vans to operate during non-peak hours in the morning before 10:30 AM. We are not able to allow food vans to operate beyond these hours as these car parks are well utilized for parking after that. The scheme was specifically introduced to allow mobile food vans in public car parks during periods of low usage only."

Hello? whats the point of allowing a business to run only during low-usage periods? Instead of coming up with this magic time of 10:30 AM, why is it that we cant have some flexibility and allow these mobile food vans to operate until the car parks become full? If a car comes into the parking lot after that, the mobile food van can drive away....because duh, thats what they are.....MOBILE !!

Monday, June 13, 2005

No Money, No Honey

Hong Kong seems to be gripped in a sensational expatriate murder trial. As with all things expatriate, it involves power, greed, betrayal, jealousy and most importantly ……money. It's amusing when we report about such sleazy stuff about our arch-rival country, we shamelessly call Hong Kong a cash-obsessed town.

Hello? Did you even look around you? How come you forgot what one good gahmen minister said ….."there are no free lunches in Singapore"? It’s always been about the money. Any policy suggestion that you make to the gahmen must include an economic facet – how will this bring more $$ to our coffers? If not, you can kiss your suggestion goodbye.

Thinking about money is so pervasive in our society that we have developed the “usual price” disease. For instance, when your friend tells you how much he bought a gadget for, he goes…. “ I got it for $548, usual price $698”. It’s always about the difference between the “usual price” and the “sale price”. We see the need to highlight that we have saved money despite having spent a bomb. We desperately seek approval from everyone around us that we have got a good price. Sadly, there is no cure for this disease….at least not here.

It also looks like a Qantas honcho has called a study commissioned by Singapore Airlines as being drafted by “someone who knows nothing about the airline industry”. Oooh… I wonder if we had said something similar, whether we would be facing the CJ by now. But hey, Australia has every right to stop SIA from flying the lucrative Ozzie-US route. Well, Air Asia and Changi Airport are embroiled in a tussle over landing rights on the Singapore-Jakarta route. So it’s perfectly normal if Australia shows us the finger…..

As our gahmen already very well know, it's always about the money…

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

New Award for ST and Email Etiquette

I have decided to confer a new award on our well regarded, respected, highly admired newspaper – The Straits Times. To add to their existing awards of design and use of color, they have come up with a novel way of filling up space….drumroll…run the same story more than once!

On page H2 today, The Straits Times ran a story titled “World IP body opens office in S’pore”. And voila, page H22 has an article titled “UN agency WIPO opens office here”. And that’s not all….on page H4, there is news about a “motorist jailed for road rage” and right next to it, the same piece of news is repeated under “punched over parked van”. Great….now I know where the 80 cents I pay for the paper goes….filling up space! Funny dudes….our newspaper editors.

I also realized today that just when Singaporeans start doing the same things differently from one another, there will be forces that work to bring everyone back in line. Take the case of email for instance. It seems that some people find it irritating to read email with caps, emoticons and SMS lingo. And so is born the so-called email etiquette – how to write an email so that everyone will understand what you write.

Maybe next time, I will write to the recipient of my email and ask him/her first if he/she understands the meaning of brb, rotfwl, whether he/she is offended if I write in CAPS and use emoticons in my mail. And based on his/her reply, I will prepare an email in a way he/she will comprehend and not be insulted. And if I am sending the email to twenty people, I will follow the same procedure for each of them. So much for the much-touted Singaporean efficiency….

Grow up people…. stop expecting ME to write to YOU in a way that will not irritate YOU. Its about time YOU make some effort in understanding what I write.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Insight of the week

I am one of those who reads the local papers religiously – less for information about worldly events and more to find out (and ROTFWL) the next thing for which Singapore is a first (e.g. hosting a toilet conference) or has become a hub (e.g. TCM). In spite of this, there was a facet of the media that was totally oblivious to me.

This morning, my buddy mentioned something to me that was so profound. It went something like this…. “have you noticed how every time the local media picks up on a social phenomenon, it becomes totally uncool?” For a moment, I did not know what to say, a moment that allowed by buddy to elaborate.

Take the instance of blogging – this ‘was’ something so cool. We had people publishing stuff on the web – stuff that the local media would not even think about doing so in their daily dose of national education. And indeed, these pages were a pleasure to read and the authors were considered bold. In the last coupla months, the local media has picked up on the issue of blogging (they never seem to grow up and continue to call it online diaries). Every other week, we had a new blog ‘introduced’ to us and the newspapers would highlight what they considered the best post of the blog. Once that happened, blogging suddenly became uncool. Somehow, in the stroke of a pen, the local media had tarnished the cool factor of blogging. We suddenly knew that they knew about what we knew…..

Every Tom, Dick and Harry now keeps an online diary(!!) and before you know it, the gahmen begins scouring the blogs for stuff that would potentially defame them. Before long, they stumble upon one and after some huffing and puffing, the whole house of blogging has been brought down. Sadly, blogging is nowhere as cool as it used to be…..

P.S: I could tell you the name/website of my buddy but I’ll have to kill you.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Guests, Maids and Chickening Out

Its amazing how when you have guests at home, you never have the time to even to read the headlines of our esteemed newspapers. But after a week of Singapore sightseeing, its back to keeping my humor levels up by reading the local newspapers. Needless to say, the papers did not disappoint.

If you think Singapore only faces competition from countries like China and India, you cannot be more wrong. Even a country like Cyprus (yeah, better look up the atlas now) can take away something we lurrve very much – no lah, not the gahmen, I’m talking about our domestic helpers (a.k.a maids). All these days, we had to fight with other countries to keep our jobs but now, we also have to struggle to keep our maids. If we do not pay our maids well and give them four days off a month (dunno why they pick on the number 4, they dunno its unlucky meh?), our maids will leave for better paying lands like Cyprus.

Talking about ‘chickening’ from external competition, it also looks like we plan to plug a loophole in the war against avian bird flu by banning chickens on Pulau Ubin. I think I have figured out why the ban has been put in place only for Ubin. If Tekong had such a chicken ban, it could probably mean that very soon, the island would become deserted..:-) If the gahmen imposed a similar chicken ban on the mainland, most of us would have to pack our bags and leave.