Playing football on Sports Hub field like running on the beach

From ‘Inaugural football game at Sports Hub a letdown’, 19 Aug 2014, Voices, Today

(Mohamad Farid Harunal Rashid): I watched the game between the Singapore Selection and Juventus at the Sports Hub on Aug 16, and was disappointed on several levels. First, while the National Stadium’s physical structure was impressive, the pitch was below par.

It was sandy, with many barren patches, not at all like the state-of-the-art turf mentioned in reports. Indeed, Juventus rested one of their star players, Carlos Tevez, reportedly due to concerns about the safety of the pitch.

The game itself was lacklustre and pedestrian. Notwithstanding that it was a friendly at the end of a long and busy post-season in a World Cup year, the quality of football was below expectations.

Ex-national player Nasri Nasir described his experience playing Juventus as ‘running on a beach’ (Sports Hub field far from pitch-perfect, 19 Aug 2014, ST). With all the patches of sand on the crowning centrepiece of our new Sports Hub, maybe it was a tad ambitious challenging the Italian Serie A champion on its first run. We could have started with a celebrity model bikini beach volleyball charity extravaganza instead. Then no one would be complaining about uninspiring attacks, balding pitches or miniature sandstorms being kicked up all over the place.

The ‘state-of-the-art’ field in the Sports Hub is the Desso Grassmaster, dubbed as the pitch of the 21st century. It boasts ‘good traction’ and ‘modifiable levels of hardness and ball bounce’ all thanks to its 3% artificial fibre meshed with 97% natural grass. Installed in global arenas like Wembley and Emirates stadium, the Grassmaster is undoubtedly the field of champions, able to withstand the harshest, most unpredictable weather and the most violent of rugby scrums. You’re not just running around on a grassy field, but a SYSTEM engineered to bring out the best in athletic performance. Unfortunately the Singapore version also happens to be too dangerous to play Carlos Tevez on. You came all the way to Singapore for nothing, Tevez. Nothing at all.

Spending $800K on reinforced grass alone is nothing more than a mere vanity project if you don’t have internationally recognised National teams making it its home turf. The only thing more wasteful is building a massive indoor snow landscape as a Winter Olympics training facility. That amount of money could have went into school sports development programmes, maybe more swimming pools or badminton courts for the public, but instead we blow it a technological showcase which not only has to accommodate rugby players, but stampedes of Jay Chou fans come November. To purists who still gush over Malaysia Cup nostalgia, no amount of grass science can bring back the glory days of the Kallang Wave.

In the 80’s we experimented with the artificial football field known as ‘Astroturf’, which sounds like what the Jetsons play Astro-Golf on. Heralded as the ‘future of football in Singapore’ in 2004, it was supposed to optimise training rain-or-shine. A decade has passed since and the only thing ‘space-age’ about the state of football today is that it is still in deep LIMBO. Let’s hope the Grassmaster holds out in this crazy weather and not turn into a hybrid beach instead of the perfect luxurious pitch as promised. Otherwise, there may be other avenues which we may want to consider in our pursuit of sporting excellence. Like, I dunno, chariot racing or something.

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Authorities not claiming responsibility over a fishball stick

From ‘New Municipal Services Office announced’, 17 Aug 2014, article by Monica Kotwani and Eileen Poh, CNA

There will be a new authority set up to coordinate the work of various Government agencies in order to better serve the public when it comes to municipal issues. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced this on Sunday (Aug 17) during his National Day Rally. The Municipal Services Office (MSO) will coordinate the work of agencies such as the Land Transport Authority (LTA), NParks, the Housing and Development Board and Police. The aim is to improve service delivery to residents.

PM Lee highlighted an example cited by Mayor for South West District, Low Yen Ling. “Yen Ling’s residents had complained that the walkway to the Bukit Gombak MRT Station was often dirty,” Mr Lee related. “One resident told her he saw a fishball stick there on the walkway. The next day he came back and looked, the same fishball stick was still in the same place. Her residents have very sharp eyes. So Yen Ling called up the agencies to find out why the area was not being cleared regularly. And she had to make multiple calls to several agencies, held several meetings. She finally managed to establish what happened. “

Ms Low found that a slope on the left of the walkway is overseen by the National Environment Agency (NEA). In the middle, which is a park connector under NParks, while the pavement close to the road is under LTA. Mr Lee said the cleaners of these areas had different cleaning schedules, and the area on the right where the fishball stick lay was cleaned every two days.

Stick it to the Man

Stick it to the Man

Ironically, in the same article, PM was waxing lyrical about Singapore becoming a SMART NATION, and here you have a mayor having to arrange MEETINGS with agencies to decide what to do with a dumped fishball stick. I wonder who would take responsibility if the fishball stick happens to lie exactly midway between NPARKS and NEA’s turf. Maybe the cleaners under the respective payrolls would have to play scissors-paper-stone in order to come to a decision.

Like an unexpected pregnancy after a drunken mass orgy, the Bukit Gombak fishball stick anecdote has become an awkward metaphor of our neurotic, self-serving, ‘not my problem’ bureaucracy. Creating another liaison office to coordinate a response isn’t going to solve the actual problem here which PM Lee did not address in his rally: LITTERING. In full parental mode, our government have spawned yet another nanny to pick up after us because we don’t know how to make people responsible for their own environment. It’s like how setting up child welfare isn’t going to stop people from having irresponsible sex. In fact it takes some of the guilt and regret off your shoulders because you know someone ‘s taking care of your damn baby, rather than leaving him abandoned and straddling the imaginary boundary between two agencies who want nothing to do with him.

The formation of an MSO is a typical approach to how we deal with such issues: Create another layer of bureaucracy to address it, confuse everyone with yet another acronym, and hope for the best. This is just sweeping the littering scourge under the carpet. And then putting another carpet on top of the first one for good measure.

‘Municipal’ is a word that is as old as there have been only gas lamps on the streets, as seen in this 1849 article below.

Screen Shot 2014-08-18 at 10.24.50 PM

It’s also an old-timey word you wouldn’t expect Singaporeans to even pronounce properly, with the MSO appearing to be an organisation whose responsibilities we’ll inevitably mix up with those of the ‘Town councils’.  MSO also stands for ‘Medisave-cum Subsidised Outpatient‘ scheme, or the fancy rank of some random customer service officer in the civil service. Maybe we need another agency to regulate how agencies are named, one that could launch an ‘Acronym Streamlining Scheme’. Or ASS.

There are other ‘grey areas’ around which our ‘relevant authorities’ don’t want to touch with a ten foot fishball stick. Nobody wants to claim responsibility over pesky mynahs, for example.  Then there’s killer treesleaves in drains, or even stray pythons, which depending on where the creatures are found may have to involve ACRES, PUB or even the Police Force. Some of these, like venomous reptiles, obviously need more urgent attention than something out of an Old Chang Kee deep fryer, and I’m not sure if the MSO can get the agencies’ act together in double-quick time before someone gets killed. We need an Inter-Agency Dengue Task Force equivalent to deal with such things. A ‘task force’ implies active hands-on, while an ‘office’ brings to mind meeting minutes, roundabout e-mails and endless hole-punching. If I need someone to get rid of a snake in the toilet bowl and I don’t know who to call, I instinctively would choose the people who call themselves a task force rather than an office, though there jolly well could be no difference between them at all.

Good luck to us if we were ever invaded by a swarm of radioactive, mutant, giant mosquitoes aggregating and breeding over a drain by the road in a HDB estate. By the time you get around calling NEA, AVA, HDB, PUB, LTA, the Town Council, or the whole damn ARMY, we’d all get hemorrhagic, radioactive dengue and die a horrific death before the first minutes of meeting have even been tabled.

Pink Run banned by Police in the interest of public order

From ‘Pink Run permit rejected in interest of public order: Police’, 14 Aug 2014, article in Today

The police have explained why they rejected an application for a Pink Run event at Marina Promenade Park, slated for this Saturday (Aug 16). A statement from the police today said: “The purpose of the event as stated by the applicant is related to LGBT advocacy, which remains a socially divisive issue. The application has been rejected in the interest of public order.

“Those who wish to advocate for potentially divisive cause-related issues can do so at the Speakers’ Corner, which is the designated public place for such activities, to avoid inconveniencing the general public, or leading to contention or potential public order issues,” the police advised.

The Pink Run was organised by Mr Nicholas Deroose, as part of IndigNation, advocates for “LGBT pride season in Singapore”. He posted a note on Facebook saying “people are still free to show up and run in their own personal capacity. There are no laws against running. You just won’t be a participant of the Pink Run”.

Before there was Pink Dot, a member of the gay community had planned a Pink Picnic in 2007 along with a 5km dash in the Botanic Gardens. NPARKS put a stop to that of course, citing such an event as ‘politicising a cause’. When they changed the venue later, they were confronted by the police for having an illegal gathering. You can run for many ’causes’ without the Police sticking their stubby noses into your business; for hope, breast cancer, ex-convicts, family, or even God, but if you’re an LGBT group out for a jog decked out in the most stigmatised colour this decade, you will be shut down for ‘disturbing the peace’ faster than you can say ‘Little India Riot’. The issue of foreigner import is also ‘socially divisive’, yet the Police were fine with pinoys celebrating their Independence Day in Orchard Road, though that eventually never happened.

To the cops who said nay to the organisers, gay people don’t just ‘fun-run’ like the rest of us. A running event for gays would look exactly like a flamingo blitzkrieg in their mind. Children could get traumatised. Just like if they chanced upon picture books about penguin fathers hatching an egg. Or maybe they were just trying to avoid an all out epic battle should some other groups decide to have Family Runs or White Marches at the same time, soaking the Marina Promenade in a sea of RED.

In that case, the Police should also look into the upcoming COLOR run, because it involves people getting plastered with rainbow powder. And we all know what rainbows signify. That event also brands itself as the HAPPIEST 5K on the Planet, and what’s another three letter word for Happy? I’ll give you a clue, it starts with G and rhymes with Hooray! Public order? How about Public CLEANLINESS?

Consider another popular run that involves you getting hunted down by zombies. Isn’t the Police worried about ‘Race the Dead’ or ‘Run for your Lives’ at all? I personally know a participant who paid money to get carried out on a stretcher for a leg injury after a mock zombie swarm went wrong. The chances of you getting injured in a chaotic zombie scuffle is higher than being dealt a vicious clothesline from a gay couple running hand in hand, or getting smothered by a stray feather boa.

There used to be more to the colour Pink than just a convenient, overused LGBT theme. ‘Pink eye’ meant conjunctivitis and not a lusty gay gaze. A ‘pink slip’ was a termination notice and not an accidental divulging of your homosexuality. If you’re in the ‘pink’ of health, you were in tip top shape, not ‘feeling gay all over’. With the resurgence of Pink Dot and a likely petition in support of Pink Run, we may see more pink themed events following suit, like Diner en Pink , Pink Fest, Pink Nite or God forbid Pink DAY. Parents may start to monitor cartoons like ‘Pinkie and the Brain’, the ‘Pink Panther’ or coming-of-age classics like ‘Pretty in Pink’ for hints of LGBT agenda. We’d get confused between Pink Dots and Pink Ribbon Breast Cancer walks. You’d think Pink Floyd is the name of a hot gay porn star instead of a seventies avant-garde rock band. You can’t use ‘I’m tickled pink!’ without someone giving you an awkward sideways glance.

Maybe it’s not so much ‘Indignation’ that’s needed here, but Imagination as well.

Woman pooping in public near Holland Village MRT

From ‘Photo of naked woman at Holland Village goes viral’, 13 Aug 2014, article in insing.com

A photo of a woman squatting with her bottom exposed at one of the MRT station entrances at Holland Village in Singapore is going viral.

It was posted by Facebook user “Denise Yii” just before 2pm on Wednesday 13 August and she claimed that the woman “wiped her bottom with a tissue and placed it in her bag”.

Could this be the same woman who got away scot-free after taking a piss in a Pinnacle@Duxton lift? Both are known to be ‘atas’ areas, one a luxurious, world renown public housing project, the other the original ‘hipster’ enclave.  HV has long lost its vintage allure, a former yuppie-infested watering hole, now a place where you can watch heartland invaders take a dump while you sip artisanal coffee by a cafe window above. Now it’s a ‘hole’ of an entirely different sort.

In 2011, a caller to a radio station named Samantha complained that Holland Village was for ‘cultured’ people and that it was no place for uncouth heartlanders, who with their singlets and flip-flops were tarnishing the image of her hangout. I wonder how she feels now knowing that these people are shitting on her territory. Up to now the grossest sight anyone in HV can witness is someone walking around in a pair of goddamn Crocs.

The culprit was completely bottomless from the photo, and if not mentally unsound she could be a member of Albert Yam’s ‘naturist’ movement taking nudism to its animalistic extreme. It’s not the first time someone took off their pants in HV, though.  In 2009, a couple strolled down Lorong Mambong totally nude for kicks. Not sure if they left any droppings behind.

But why, of all godforsaken places, by an MRT exit? It appears to be a favourite spot for serial poopers. Earlier this month, a mother was caught coaxing her son into defecating by Chinatown MRT. Yet what’s really disturbing about this image is that the kid appears to be eating a CARROT. WHILE SHITTING. That’s what vegetables do to you, son.

Even the financial heart of the nation wasn’t spared. In 2012, someone, or something, left a turd-tastic load in Raffles MRT station. It looked like the Cavalia troupe was in town for a tour and forgot to bag it. And speaking of bags, imagine the HV shitter bringing her bag and her stained tissue onto a crowded train, or sitting next to you on the priority seat.

But at least it’s not done IN THE TRAIN, you say? Well, check this shit out.

It seems that even for a ‘garden city’, people still can’t seem to be able to get to the nearest bush in time. Before the MRT came to Holland Village, there was at least some green cover for those urgent bowel movements.  But maybe there’s more to this than the corprophilic whims of someone who’s mentally ill. Maybe the HV pooper is really a radical activist protesting SMRT’s less than stellar service, sending a faecal message to the organisation, saying ‘This is what I think of your Free WiFi, SMRT!’ Well you don’t have to punish our cleaners, or our poor eyes that way, lady. Watch out, Sentosa Cove.

Swing and revolving doors in malls should be regulated

From ‘Swing and revolving doors could pose danger, cause injuries in malls’, 12 Aug 2014, Voices, Today

(Francis Cheng): Unlike automatic sliding doors, swinging and revolving doors pose a greater danger of injuring the elderly, handicapped and children (“Westgate glass doors ‘safe’: Mall management”; Aug 8, online). The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) should regulate their use and not allow shopping malls which are usually crowded with shoppers to install swinging or revolving doors.

…Should there be any appropriate warnings or advisory signs affixed to such doors at certain heights? Are the speeds on revolving doors adjusted to cater to the disabled and the elderly? What about measures to prevent fingers from getting trapped at the pivoting side of swing doors?

Automatic doors are not as innocuous as the writer thinks. A faulty one could close in on you like a booby-trap when you least expect it. In 1984, a boy DIED after walking head first into a glass sliding door, presumably because he didn’t notice it was there. Not sure if anyone was ever decapitated by a revolving door here, but a 6 year old Japanese boy was crushed to death by one in Roppongi Hills, Tokyo. Swing doors come in useful in the event there’s a fire and at least there’s an exit which you can physically manipulate, unless someone’s kid is there fooling around with it because Daddy’s using the iPad and he’s bored out of his little mind. Removing swing doors from public buildings entirely deprives people the chance of acting chivalrous or gracious. You’ll never get a chance to hold a door open for someone else and feel great about it, the only redeeming quality of the typical family shopping experience, which in my opinion is otherwise an excruciating ordeal worse than having a glass door fall on top of my head.

If anything, the Westgate incident should teach parents not to let their little brats monkey around with glass doors, or anything with a pivot for that matter. No matter how playful a child is, he should be discouraged from obstructing shopper traffic with antics more suitable for a stone mill in a child labour camp. Besides, there are things out there in the mall which are more hazardous than poorly-fitted glass doors. With so many death traps waiting to claim little children or the infirmed, maybe it’s better not to go out at all, rather than waste money on advisory signs which naughty kids don’t give a shit about. It gives new meaning to the phrase ‘SHOP TILL YOU DROP’.

1. ESCALATORS

If you’re not falling into a gap when an escalator step gives way (Forum shopping mall), you may lose a toe or two, especially if you happen to be wearing Crocs. With its capacity to amputate or trap your head against the ceiling, escalators rank among the top child hazards in any shopping centre. Maybe we should hire sherpas to carry our precious ones up the stairs should we decide to ban escalators too.

2. THE ROOF

In nearby Jem, a place renown for its arse luck, the damn ceiling collapsed out of nowhere. Westgate seemed to have absorbed some jinx off its cursed neighbour.

3. LIVE WIRES

If your kid is not careful, he may be in for a shocking near-death experience. Especially so for brand new malls with some renovation/cabling works still going on.

4. STORE LOGOS

Last year, the Golden Arches came crashing down in Lot 1 shopping mall. If you want to try your luck at being compensated with a lifetime supply of fries, then this is the place to be.

5. RANDOM METAL OBJECTS

A metal object fell and hit a shopper in Tampines 1 in 2009. Blood was spilled and an ambulance was involved.

Teachers not reading newspapers

From ‘Teachers should read newspapers’, 11 Aug 2014, ST Forum

(Dr V Subramaniam):  WHEN I had lunch with two secondary school teachers one recent weekend, I was taken aback when both admitted that they do not read newspapers. The Straits Times was not part of their daily reading content, and they were ignorant of the Forum pages. I had expected these teachers of English and Literature to take a keener interest in what was happening around them through the medium of newsprint, so that they could disseminate more informed knowledge and wisdom to their students.

I explained to them that newspapers carry models of clear and concise writing that can stand alone as teaching tools – or supplement other instructional materials, such as the Internet. Newspapers contain many different types of writing models – narrative, persuasive, expository – and are written for various reading levels that would help students.

Newspapers help teachers bridge the gap between the classroom and the “real world” by extending the boundaries of knowledge, and help teachers and students feel like a part of the world.

In this way, educators’ interest in new teaching techniques is heightened while their intellectual skills and critical and independent thinking are sharpened for the benefit of their students, who are being nurtured for active citizenship.

Newspapers also air the grievances of the public and help shape public opinion, and keep the public and the Government in close contact. The newspaper helps teachers gain knowledge, wisdom and power that they can inculcate in their students.

It is imperative that the Ministry of Education strives to ensure that teachers read beyond their teaching materials and syllabus. The reading habit has gradually waned with the advent of new technological devices and gadgets. It needs to be reawakened in our society so that we can keep up with the rest of the world.

If you’re an English/Literature teacher and you know you’re about to have lunch with Dr V Subramaniam, make sure you read the Straits Times from beginning to end, including the Obituaries section, so that you won’t get caught in a situation where this champion of newspapers decides to complain about your competence as a role model in the national medium. It’s one thing to suggest using the newspapers as a ‘tool’ to engage students, which is fine, but another to run down a couple of teachers because they’ve never heard of the Forum page. Give them a break, they work some of the LONGEST hours in the world, and you want to them read Today in Parliament before bedtime?(Then again probably not a bad idea if you have insomnia)

As far back as 1979, proponents of the medium we use to pick up dogshit with have hailed its ability to stimulate ‘functional literacy’. Other claimed benefits include improving ‘general knowledge’ and ‘skimming and scanning skills’. In 1984, in a bid to inculcate the habit, a newspaper-reading CONTEST was held. V Subramaniam goes further, using hyperbole like ‘wisdom’ and ‘power’, like a cleric promoting the Old Testament, forgetting that the newspaper industry is not out to instill ‘independent thinking’ in young minds. It’s a business that sensationalises, filters content or sells sex scandals if necessary to make money. Come, class, let’s discuss what Cecilia Sue said in court about her steamy affair with Ng Boon Gay! It can supplement your sex education class as well!

The ST is also often accused of having a political agenda, a mouthpiece for the ruling party, and if it can’t possibly ‘air the grievances’ of EVERY concerned citizen, then it can’t be a bridge to the ‘real world’. That would make it, well, OBJECTIVE. And no newspaper in the world has the audacity of claiming they’re such. Newspapers have a responsibility to their stakeholders, mostly the Government, and thrive on a gullible public willing to swallow information wholesale, not pupils taking an English test. The paper is just ONE of the many sources of knowledge and current affairs out there, whether it’s online commentaries, magazines, books, documentaries or the now defunct Encyclopedia Britannica. The ST is generally a decent ‘textbook’ for concise writing, reading skills and vocabulary, and a source of cheap gossip fodder every now and then to bond readers, but it doesn’t necessarily make a teacher better at his job if he has to make an obligatory ritual out of it. Other than that, it’s excellent for wiping windows during CNY spring cleaning.

Real world? Maybe the writer needs to live in it too.

(According to the ST feature ‘Writer of the Week’ in Apr 29 2013, Dr V Subramaniam is 71 years old and a retired assistant commissioner of the IRA and university lecturer. He thinks the Forum page offers at a single glance the ‘pulse of our society’, which is flattering considering how many letters get rejected every day)

Police investigating toppled Singapore flags

From ‘Singapore flags felled in Ang Mo Kio’, 10 Aug 2014, article in Today.

An act of mischief ruined National Day decorations at an HDB estate in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3 today (Aug 10).

Town council workers had put up Singapore flags in the build-up to the celebrations. On Sunday morning, it was discovered that several flags had been felled. Police officers were seen clearing up the damage when our reporter got to the scene at about 2pm. Town council workers were also seen putting up new flags. They said the flag poles were broken but there was no damage to the flags.

Flag down

Flag down

Oh dear God, there’s a flagpole chopper on the loose! Quick apprehend the vandals before more Singapore flags are felled. Our 49th birthday post-NDP celebrations depend on it! This foul deed is as despicable as someone peeing all over our Cenotaph, or decapitating Sir Stamford Raffles’ statue, dammit.

Since we’re doing the policing and stuff, we should also round up anyone who has the audacity to allow the Singapore flag to touch the filthy ground. Like the perpetrators behind this brutal act of flag dumping below, leaving a sad pile of bleeding flag corpses, innards wrenched and spilled, outside a disgusting rubbish chute. I can’t get this ghastly image out of my head. The horror!

BASTARDS!

Even the hand-held flags are not spared. Look at how these two innocent flags are tossed among random filth near a lift. It’s as heartbreaking as seeing children lying broken and lifeless in a corner after a gangrape. I don’t want to live on this earth anymore.

DAMN MURDERERS!

How dare you also allow the flag to stand on a grass patch and lean against some bushes? Would you make Jesus stand on broken glass? This is so, so cruel.

TORTURERS!

What about bringing Li Jiawei to justice? At the Beijing Olympics representing Singapore she, the FLAGBEARER, was spotted dragging the flag all over the ground. WHERE IS SHE NOW (back home in China probably)? Get Interpol on the case for Christ’s sake!

NOOOOOOOOOO!

And don’t think that if you’re a celebrated playwright you could get away with flag assault. In Cook a Pot of Curry, a Wild Rice play, the producers allowed the flag to be dropped on stage while the actors were singing the National Anthem. This is INHUMANE. It’s like dropping a baby from a height sufficient to not just paralyse for life, but KILL. Curse you Arts people! Someone should send the cops down to your houses to search for flagpole-destroying parangs, axes or chainsaws!

It is truly an unspeakable crime, and I will remember this 49th National Day as the day someone hacked my country, my dreams, my home, down to the ground. God Save Singapore.

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