Zouk an institution that needs saving

From ‘Zouk may shut by year end’ 18 June 2014, article by Joyce Lim, ST

The founder of Zouk, Mr Lincoln Cheng, says he is tired of getting short lease extensions for the popular dance club’s Jiak Kim Street site. If he does not get a three-year extension he is now requesting, he will close the 23-year-old iconic nightspot for good by the end of this year.

…When the club first opened in 1991, the land around it was largely vacant. But today, the club – which is situated within three recently conserved riverside warehouses – is dwarfed by neighbouring condominiums and hotels. It was no surprise, therefore, when questions about the fate of Zouk started making the rounds in 2012.

…When told of the news, celebrity presenter and Zouk regular Najip Ali said he was shocked. “When Zouk opened, it was ahead of its time. In the 1990s, Zouk put a stamp on the kind of nightlife that didn’t exist.” It was where he learnt about music and deejays. “Zouk has been and is still an institution,” he said.

Development plans aside, it was MP Indranee Rajah (“If Zouk was not there, then it is unlikely the youth would congregate there.”) who indirectly blamed the rise in drunken rowdiness in the Robertson Quay area on the dance ‘institution’. Since complaints by residents, the Government has been mooting the idea of a ‘no-alcohol’ zone so that babies from nearby condos can sleep at night. If Zouk were an ‘institution’, then its graduates are Masters in Inebriation. No riot has broken out on Jiak Kim Street so far, though there may soon be a protest or two. Like the SaveZouk campaign for example. I wonder what colour these guys will be wearing. Maybe neon rainbow.

I’ve been to the club myself a few times, and back in those days it was a hedonistic eye-opener seeing people gyrating on raised platforms, revellers decked out in the wildest accessories, meeting gays, transgenders and Najip Ali, sweating and grinding to guest DJs spinning revolutionary dance tracks that no other disco at the time were keen to play. In the 90’s, Zouk WAS Clubbing, a place that has become synonymous with a street with the unlikeliest of names in ‘Jiak Kim’. You didn’t need to give taxi drivers directions or addresses. You just had to say ‘Zouk’, and he’d give you that knowing wink and a nod, sometimes breaking out into small talk about how ‘happening’ you are. Then again, it’s also the same place that revived Rick Astley’s popularity, thanks to Mambo Jumbo Nights, a phenomenon that has even been exported out for the 2012 Singapore Day in New York.

For 23 years, Singaporean merrymakers have stayed faithful to the icon of glam, the ‘queen’ of clubs, despite intrusions by global players like Ministry of Sound and Supperclub, which all bowed out of the scene entirely while Zouk continued to attract 24 hour party people, even till now, except to the wrath of condo owners, who obviously didn’t have a clue about what Zouk was about when they decided to move in right next to it. In the spirit of MP Indranee’s argument: If the condos were not there, there would be no one to complain about noise, piss and vomit. And we probably would have let the kids drink themselves to death or fall off the bridge and drown or something.

Here are some facts every Singaporean should know about our homegrown premier club:

1. Zouk means ‘village party’ in French Caribbean, and was refurnished out of 3 abandoned riverside godowns. The logo was inspired by Arabic script and is a mixture of the ‘sun, all-seeing eye and the sea’. Zouk’s address is 17 Jiak Kim Street, though no one knows what happened to the other 16 numbers.

2. Founder Lincoln Cheng is an architect by training. In 1995 he was charged for bringing in 376 diazepam tablets and having possession of 125 Upjohn tablets, 4 Playboy magazines and some porno tapes, all part of a high profile drug bust which forced the club to close temporarily.

3. Tan Jiak Kim was a fifth generation Baba merchant who formed the Straits Steamship Company in 1890 with a few other rich businessmen, in addition to sterling work among the Chinese community and setting up a medical college. He would have qualified for the Pioneer package. Most of us would have never heard of him if not for Zouk. Thankfully, there’s also a nearby bridge named after the man, a bridge that the very same drunk kids are puking and dumping trash on.

4. In 1993, a brewery bar named ORANG UTAN opened in the Zouk complex. No it wasn’t a place where you could pet Ah Meng for free over beer and grub like what you do in a cat cafe. Though that just MIGHT work elsewhere.

5. A ‘Healthy Lifestyle Party‘ without cigarettes and booze was held for 1000 SAF personnel in 1992. As fun as your Grandaunt’s birthday bash, I reckon. The words ‘healthy’ and ‘party’ belong together like ‘innocent’ and ‘sex’. I hope there was at least Hokkien techno.

6. ‘Zoukette’ is what you call a fashionable female club regular. It was also the name of one of the more popular IRC channels in Singapore. Yes, Zouk has outlived even IRC, ICQ and Windows Messenger.

7. The PAP celebrated its 50th anniversary there in 2004, an event that most true-blue Zoukers and Zoukettes would rather forget. Amongst those boogieing the night away then was PM Lee himself, Lim Swee Say, and a certain Indranee Rajah, the same MP who thinks Zouk turns our kids into raving alcoholics. Look, here’s proof!

Party people in the house, y'all.

Party people in the house, y’all.

Wait, that means 2014 is the 60th year of PAP’s reign. How about a farewell All-White Zouk party again this year, for the club to go out with an unforgettable BANG?. After all, who WOULDN’T want to see our ministers dancing?Not sure if invitations will be extended to Ms Indranee though.

8. Zouk is likely to have played host to a more diverse range of international stars than any other stadium or concert hall in Singapore. From 80’s synth-pop band Erasure to techno/trance maestros, Kylie Minogue to K-pop girl groups, even a crooning Tony Leung.

9. In 2007, Zouk was where you could watch girls in skimpy attire wrestle one another in spaghetti sauce. 3 years later, the club organised an event called ‘Baby Loves Disco’, where hip parents could bring their babies for an afternoon party, some as young as 2 MONTHS. It looked like the beginning of a slow demise, less an ‘institution’ than a free-for-all venue for any event under the sun.

10. In 2008, it was reported that Zouk hired 70 security officers and had 100 surveillance cameras installed. What would become of these bouncers once Zouk is gone? Maybe protecting our ministers when they queue for chicken wings, perhaps?

So those were the days, my friend, we’d thought they’d never end. Thanks for the memories, Zouk. The puke on the sidewalk, the awesome live DJ gigs, the vodka-Ribena, the silly dancing, for being the only place in town where you could impress the girl of your dreams with cheesy 80’s moves. Unlike high-end exclusive clubs like Ku De Ta, Zouk welcomed mopey teens, the fuddy-duddies, the geeks and the wannabes with open arms. You did well to put us on the map of ‘cool’ and convince the world that Singapore was not THAT boring after all, but like all good parties, this 23-year-long one must come to an end. Good night, and Zouk Out.

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Catherine Lim bemoaning a collapse of trust in the Government

From ‘Consul-General rebuts HK report on open letter by Catherine Lim’, 14 June 2014, article by Joy Fang, Today

A South China Morning Post (SCMP) report on Monday about novelist Catherine Lim’s comments in an open letter to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has drawn a sharp rebuttal from Mr Jacky Foo, Consul-General of Singapore in Hong Kong. SCMP’s report titled “Writer Catherine Lim’s open letter to Singaporean PM fuels social media debate” had quoted Dr Lim’s open letter to Mr Lee, in which she said Singaporeans “no longer trust their government”.

In a forum letter to the newspaper published yesterday, Mr Foo said Dr Lim had first asserted this claim in 1994, when the People’s Action Party (PAP) had won the 1991 General Election with 61 per cent of the vote. Since then, the ruling party has taken Singapore through a number of serious crises relatively unscathed and has won four further general elections by healthy margins, he pointed out. “But still, (Dr) Lim continues to regularly bemoan a collapse of trust and respect for the government,” he said.

…In a follow-up post on her blog published yesterday, Dr Lim clarified that Mr Ngerng’s defamation suit was not the direct cause of her writing the letter. She had been observing with increasing dismay at a series of happenings in the political scene, culminating with the defamation suit, she said.

Addressing criticism that she was being too much of an alarmist, Dr Lim stressed that “it is a crisis, or at least a crisis-in-the-making”.

It was 20 years ago when Catherine Lim coined the term ‘The Great Affective Divide’ to describe the estrangement of the PAP from the people, when she used ‘alarmist’ terms like ‘a serious bifurcation at the emotive level’ and ‘subterranean hostility is all the more insidious’. Her commentaries don’t make easy reading, where she uses words like ‘modus vivendi’, ‘loyality’ and ‘meretricious’, and I’m not sure if the Consul-General really understood what she was trying to convey in her open letter, not to mention ordinary Singaporeans. 1994 was a time before social media, of course. Today almost every minister and MP has a Facebook account and then there’s this thing called a National Conversation. And Catherine Lim still believes today that this distrust in our leaders has ‘widened the original disconnect between the PAP and the people into an almost UNBRIDGEABLE CHASM’. Phwroar!

PM Goh would have none of this ‘armchair critic’ eroding his authority back then. In response to charges in another 1994 article ‘One Government, Two Styles’ that he wasn’t his own man and deferred to the elder Lee , he challenged Catherine Lim to enter the political arena, accusing her of ‘going beyond the pale’. To which the author replied that she hadn’t the slight interest, and continues to disdain the offer till this day. Yesterday’s armchair critic is today’s keyboard warrior, and the Government has more than its hands full with this army of discontents, and if you issue such a playground challenge today, you MIGHT just get it. Luckily for Lim, Goh didn’t deploy the famed ‘instrument of control’ then, the defamation suit. It would have vindicated Lim’s opinion that the ‘open and consultative’ style was just a cover for the true LKY-era ‘top-down’ approach that’s been looming there all this while, a ghost beast waiting to unleashed when the PM decides to summon it. Like Satan’s Pokemon.

After the ‘Great Affective Divide’ fallout, Lim cut the Government some slack in 2000 by acknowledging that Singapore was ‘more open’ then compared to 1995. In a 2001 interview, she said that ‘it’s good that the Government is reaching out…in Singapore if you speak honestly and authentically and respectfully, they accept it’. It seemed like she had changed her mind about the Government’s attitude. That is until she penned a ‘open letter to the PM’ in 2007, another tedious read which spoke about PM Lee’s ‘strategy of fear’ and ‘paterfamilias’ (sounds like a Mexican curry puff to me) style of governance. The defamation suit is a recurring example used throughout her observations about ministerial style, and the Roy Ngerng debacle seems to be the same trigger sparking off this latest war of words.

So what is this ‘Edelman barometer’ that Jackie Foo speaks of, that tells us that a whopping 75% of people trust the PAP? Isn’t it really a subjective, selective survey with a fancy name that makes it sound like a validated scientific instrument? In 2012, the Barometer told us that 65% of the ‘informed public’ trust the media. According to an Edelman results slideshow. Singapore has been among the rank of ‘trustees’ since 2011, joining the likes of China and Indonesia, of all nations. Yes, the same China that bans Facebook and Google. There’s also a gap in overall trust between the ‘Informed Public’ and ‘General Population’ (73% vs 64%). So it really depends on who you’re asking then. What Jackie Foo didn’t mention was the level of Singaporean trust in fact DROPPED from 82% to 75% from 2013 to 2014, though still higher than the distrusting Americans and their paltry 37%. Still, it’s the usual ‘blast them with statistics’ method which may appeal to the head, but sadly not the hearts of average Singaporeans.

Trust in the limelight

I ‘trust’ that PM Lee won’t apply the same formula like his predecessor did 20 years back. That would mean that in spite of all their efforts to connect, to bridge that unbridgeable chasm, even if it means queuing up for chicken wings….nothing much has changed.

Wikipedia ‘vandal’ calling the PAP a fascist regime

From ‘Vicious edits to PAP’s Wikipedia page’, 13 June 2013, article by Hoe Pei Shan, ST

A People’s Action Party MP called on his organisation to consider legal action yesterday after “vicious” edits were made to its Wikipedia page. Tampines GRC MP Baey Yam Keng spoke out after a user of the website changed the name of the party to “Party Against People” and added lines such as “down with the fascists” and “vote for Opposition” into the text.

According to the page’s publicly available editing history, the user who first made the changes appeared to have done so on Wednesday afternoon under the name “AlikVesilev”.

The user claimed that “proof of (the PAP’s) suppression of freedom of speech” was demonstrated by the sacking of blogger Roy Ngerng by Tan Tock Seng Hospital this week, a move later backed by the Ministry of Health.

Human rights group Maruah thought that Roy’s dismissal and the subsequent endorsement by MOH was handled poorly, symptomatic of the high-handed, remorseless manner in which the PAP and its underlings deal with dissenters. ‘AlikVesilev’ also praised socialism and went ‘URA!’ in his rant, which I’m guessing refers to a Soviet battle cry for ‘Hooray’ (Most definitely not the ‘Urban Redevelopment Authority’).

If nothing happens to this wiki ‘vandal’ after his ‘vicious’ attack, Roy would be hitting himself on the head for not having exploited the CPF Wikipedia page instead to get his message across, now that he’s facing an insurmountable defamation suit and currently jobless. But this isn’t the first time that the PAP’s hardcore style of punishment and intolerance for ‘free speech’ have been compared to ‘fascism’.

1963: The Barisan Socialis invoked ‘fascist repression’ when the PAP revoked citizenship for political detainees, accusing the party of ‘abusing power’ to unjustly punish anyone opposed to the regime. A familiar routine that anyone that has been cast away in political exile, or fired from a job because he impugned the integrity and character of our great leader, can relate to.

1964: V David from the Socialist Front, KL, referred to the PAP governance as a ‘reign of terror’ and ‘a fascist dictatorship’.

1971: A bunch of Malaysian and Singaporean students staged a demonstration against ‘fascist Lee Kuan Yew’ in London’s Hyde Park, burning an effigy of the PM. The ST referred to them as ‘radicals’.

1976: The United People’s Front leader Harbans Singh blamed the inequality between the rich and the poor on the ‘parasitic’ fascist regime that is the PAP. He was later hauled up to court for making scurrilous remarks about LKY being a ‘scoundrel’ and ‘gangster’ from the way the blunt tool that is the ISA was being implemented.

1977: Detainee Ho Kwon Ping was accused of portraying the PAP as an ‘elitist, racialist, fascist, oppressive and dictatorial’ government in an article for the Far Eastern Economic Review, which he allegedly used as a platform to channel his ‘pro-Red’ sentiments. He later became the founder of Banyan Tree and now a successful millionaire. Some jailtime may be good for you after all.

2006: John Burton of the Financial Times wrote about the uncanny similarity between the PAP’s lightning logo and that of the British Union of Facists (BUF). According to the writer, LKY admitted a ‘design influence’ from the fascist symbol. Apart from the logo, the other stark difference between the BUF’s Blackshirts and our current PAP mould would be the colour of their uniforms.

Fascist logo, or insignia of the Flash?

2013: DJ X’Ho calls us a ‘hushed’ fascist state, that we may well be the ‘unproclaimed fascist capital of the world’ but wouldn’t admit it.

High-handed brutality aside, most of us don’t have sexual fantasies about our glorious leaders, nor do we worship them as war heroes, man-gods or sing songs of total party devotion and then weep in ecstasy like how they do in a megachurch or a pure fascist state. According to a list of ‘defining characteristics‘ by a certain Dr Lawrence Britt, there are examples of ‘fascist’ elements in almost every modern government you can think of, not just Singapore, among which include:

1. Disdain for Recognition of Human Rights: Anti-gay laws, the ISD’s detention without trial.

2. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause: ‘Self-radicalised’ individuals, ‘CPF bloggers’, disgraced Opposition leaders.

3. Supremacy of the Military: Last year’s defence spending was $12 BILLION.

4. Rampant Sexism: Our cabinet ministers are all male. Not many female boardroom members in corporations.

5. Controlled Mass Media: ST, hello? Crackdown on ‘seditious’ Facebook posts, defamatory blogs. Censorship of political films, movies about gay sex, threesomes or zany plots about the assassination of Malaysian Prime Ministers.

6. Obsession with Crime and Punishment: Death penalties, caning, and ‘enhanced’ powers of the Police in Little India.

One may think of fascist governance as a continuous spectrum, just like how we all lie in the emotional range from ‘super nice’ to ‘psychopath’.  The PAP, as our PM once admitted himself, is in fact a ‘Paranoid’ government, one that ‘worries’ all the time. In other words, one that is constantly in FEAR of things not going their way. I would put that nearer to the psychopath end of the spectrum.

 

Workers’ Party needs to grow up

By ‘Time for the Workers’ Party to grow up’, 1 June 2014, article by Chua Mui Hoong, Sunday Times

…The Workers’ Party has seven elected MPs and two Non-Constituency MPs in Parliament. It’s the leading opposition party, since no other has even one elected MP. It has said it can’t form the government yet – but can be its “co-driver”. But its position on policy issues is sometimes hard to fathom. This explains the PAP’s increasing frustration as ministers and MPs try to corner WP leaders into declaring their stand on a host of issues, as a look at Hansard records of Parliamentary proceedings will reveal.

Hence the exchange over whether the WP did “flip-flop” on immigrant growth, calling for zero growth in foreign workforce one year, and lamenting tightening curbs on foreign labour in another. On ministerial pay, too, observers will recall that it has suggested at various times to peg ministers’ salaries to the bottom 20 per cent earners, and then to the pay grade of a senior civil servant.

Ducking tough questions on policies was a good political move in the past, when all you needed to get into Parliament was the ability to connect with voters and promise to speak up for the people. In today’s political climate, however, that is patently inadequate.

…The WP’s value proposition has to evolve from one of checking the PAP government, to one where it offers a credible alternative to the Government. Realistic Singaporeans will cut the WP some slack as it’s a small minority party in Parliament, with six of its seven elected MPs serving only their first terms. But as a political party, it has been around since 1957. Leader Low Thia Khiang has been in Parliament since 1991.

It’s time the WP grew up.

In short, ST Political editor Chua Mui Hoong thinks the WP has done nothing worthwhile since the last election in 2011. We’ll leave it to Low Thia Khiang and gang to challenge that assertion, but one thing for certain is the level of ‘hammering’ that the WP MPs have been receiving, not just in Parliament but in the mainstream media. PM Lee in his recent parliamentary debate with Low called them out for being ‘tigers and heroes’ just before the elections. Trust a political commentator from a notoriously pro-government paper, who incidentally also co-edited a book by Lee Kuan Yew, to join in the fun, spouting a raging one-sided polemic that would give our PAP MPs instant orgasms just reading it.

Here’s a rundown of how the WP have been the PAP’s (and ST’s) favourite whipping boys (and girls) over the years, and why they’ll always be at loggerheads more often than being ‘co-drivers’.

1) ‘Dangerous’ policy proposals.

When the WP proposed to scrap ethnic integration policies, the elected presidency and grassroots organisations in their manifesto in 2006, Ng Eng Hen derided their ‘alternative policies’ as a time bomb that would tear Singapore apart. Khaw Boon Wan used ‘poisons’, when our PM called these ‘dangerous’. A younger Sylvia Lim was ticked off by Goh Chok Tong for having the ‘crazy’ idea of abolishing the tripartite relationship between the Government, employers and workers.

I can’t recall a time when the PAP decided to take up some ‘radical’ proposals for genuine consideration instead of snubbing them right away, something like ‘Hey guys, it sounds crazy but MAYBE it just might work!’. When PAP man Janil Puthucheary suggested the totally bonkers FREE MRT RIDES last year, nobody called him a whack job and it was implemented with some success. It would have been a different story if the WP had raised it. Denise Phua recently proposed for the elected presidency to be junked, something which the WP has previously advocated. Not a squeak from anyone so far.

2)A substandard opposition.

Chua expressed in a commentary that Singaporeans ‘have lower standards for opposition candidates than for PAP ones’, though she praised Sylvia Lim as ‘sharp and witty’ and ‘eminently electable’ as an Opposition MP. DPM Teo would question in 2012 if Png Eng Huat in Hougang was the WP’s best man since he wasn’t selected for the NCMP post. PM Lee said WP’s ‘flip-flopping’ and admitting their mistakes was the mark of a ‘substandard’ opposition, though the PAP themselves are guilty of ‘policy shifts’ too.

3) Wayang party.

Ng Eng Hen termed the WP a party of ‘criticisms’, offering no solutions, hence the tag ‘Wayang party’. In 1985, veterans like Chiam See Tong and JBJ were known as ‘one-legged heroes‘ for their ‘posturing and preening’. Well, both sides are guilty of this of course, the PAP’s ‘wayanging’ more of the ‘empty promises’ sort. They are in fact the architect of the greatest wayang show on earth: The National Conversation.

4) A distraction to the PAP that needs ‘fixing’.

PM Lee said the Opposition party would be a distraction to the PAP and make it harder to implement policies, prompting the infamous ‘fix the Opposition’ quip. Well he’s not going to achieve that by calling them names like ‘tigers and heroes’. If it ain’t fixed, break it.

5) A bunch of bicycle thieves and liars

In 1982, S Rajaratnam brought up the criminal records of 2 WP candidates, including one bicycle thief. James Gomez was called a liar by LKY and was challenged to ‘sue him’. DPM Teo wondered if Png Eng Huat was being ‘honest’ during his Hougang campaigning. Chen Show Mao and Pritam Singh were both hit with charges of plagiarism. All this banditry and deceit going on and all PAP had to answer for was a philandering Speaker of Parliament, and oh, some terrorist running out of prison.

6) A silent party

When Low Thia Khiang refrained from commenting on whether Wong Kan Seng ought to be given the chop after Mas Selamat escaped, it was seen by some commentators as a sign of weakness. Hri Kumar thinks they run away from difficult issues and like to sit on the fence like Humpty Dumpty, a similar analogy used by Indranee Rajah when they didn’t say much about the hijab saga.

So yes maybe the WP is still on a ‘learning curve’ despite being around for almost half a century, but the same immaturity label should be slapped on some instances of PAP behaviour as well, who have been traditionally hostile to Opposition suggestions, to the extent of name-calling, launching personal attacks, frantic denials, dirt-digging, all this amidst calls for ‘constructive politics’. If nothing is done to improve relations, the WP will be forever seen as opposing for the sake of opposing, the PAP forever defensive, and the rest of us who pay their salaries suffer because our MPs spend more time pouncing on each other’s flaws than working together for the higher cause. You know what, all of you deserve to be slapped and woken up before someone ‘drives’ this country into a grotty ditch.

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the Workers’ Party has seven elected MPs and two Non-Constituency MPs in Parliament. It’s the leading opposition party, since no other has even one elected MP. It has said it can’t form the government yet – but can be its “co-driver”.

But its position on policy issues is sometimes hard to fathom. This explains the PAP’s increasing frustration as ministers and MPs try to corner WP leaders into declaring their stand on a host of issues, as a look at Hansard records of Parliamentary proceedings will reveal.

Hence the exchange over whether the WP did “flip-flop” on immigrant growth, calling for zero growth in foreign workforce one year, and lamenting tightening curbs on foreign labour in another.

On ministerial pay, too, observers will recall that it has suggested at various times to peg ministers’ salaries to the bottom 20 per cent earners, and then to the pay grade of a senior civil servant.

Ducking tough questions on policies was a good political move in the past, when all you needed to get into Parliament was the ability to connect with voters and promise to speak up for the people.

In today’s political climate, however, that is patently inadequate.

- See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/premium/think/story/time-the-workers-party-grow-20140601#sthash.uPEF5DUL.dpuf

Low Thia Khiang’s breathtakingly cynical view on politics

From ‘Constructive politics will help Singapore scale new height: PM’, 28 May 2014, article by Charissa Yang, ST Singpolitics

It is very important for Singapore to get its politics right because constructive politics will help it scale new heights, but wrong politics will doom it, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Wednesday.

He joined the ongoing debate in Parliament over constructive politics, first mentioned in the President’s Address on May 16. Mr Lee criticised Workers’ Party chief Low Thia Khiang’s speech delivered on Monday and responded to Mr Low’s point “that whatever way ‘politics’ is described and coloured, it is still politics”.

Calling this a “breathtakingly cynical view of politics”, Mr Lee said: “Politics cannot just be about politics alone. Singaporeans’ lives and Singapore’s future are at stake.”

‘Constructive politics’ has been bandied about since Low Thia Khiang ‘cynically’ said that this rhetorical hokum doesn’t happen ‘by order of the Government’. But most of the ‘constructive politics’ supporters in Parliament seem intent on providing their own whimsy definitions rather than citing concrete examples of its existence. Positive adjectives to describe a party’s political style like ‘constructive’ are rare, perhaps because it’s redundant. After all, we pay good money for our million dollar ministers,  and it’s a given that they better bloody hell deliver the goods. Constructively. It’s like saying your kid studies in a ‘good’ school, something which our Minister of Education would say applies to EVERY damn school anyway.

Here’s a sampling of other ‘brands’ of politics that have been used to describe our PAP and Opposition parties, proof that there are more bad things to say about politics in general than sincere compliments.

1. Compliant politics.

Low’s example was the MDA imposing licensing on news sites. Another example I can think of was the voting results for the passing of the White Paper, with 77 PAP MPs all voting yes vs 13 non-PAP saying nay. One Inderjit Singh abstained. Also known as ‘Yes-men’ politics.

2. Pork-barrel politics

A term to describe inducing the electorate with sweeteners prior to an election, like GST vouchers, Progress packages, upgrading, MRT etc. George Yeo once denied that it existed in Singapore, that there was very little ‘pork in the barrel’. You could say the PAP does ‘halal’ politics, then. Also politics of property.

3.Package politics.

A term coined by Goh Chok Tong to ‘defend the link’ between upgrading and winning votes (See pork barrel politics). Today you have Pioneer packages and Jubilee Baby packages, all little rewards given out to Singaporeans for being good, law-abiding boys and girls (or old men and women).

4. Politics of make-believe

Chee Soon Juan is credited with this term, using it to describe how the PAP is out of touch with reality and insist on painting a rosy picture of the state of affairs on the ground. Or ‘Potemkin’ politics. Like denying that we’re the most expensive city in the world, for example. Nothing like a healthy dose of cynicism in the land of milk and honey, eh?

5. Politics of envy

Matthias Yao used this to describe Chee Soon Juan’s tactics of ‘exaggerating class divisions in Singapore to attract votes’. Today, the PAP makes childless couples envious with their Baby bonuses and special Jubilee gold medallions, and local gamblers envious of foreigners who don’t have to pay $100 casino levies. They also are very accommodating to billionaires settling down here, making us salivate over their Sentosa Cove homes while we languish in our 3 room HDB flats (which they promise they’ll upgrade before the next election).

6. Third World gutter politics/politics of discreditation/politics of distraction.

All coined by James Gomez after his ‘misplaced application form’ incident and being called a ‘liar’. LKY himself accused his opponents of ‘gutter/snake-pit politics’ when they tried to discredit PAP candidates. A political ‘low-blow’, so to speak. Both sides are equally guilty of this of course, though one is more likely to get away with mudslinging than the other. Also ‘character-assassination politics’.

7. Hardball politics

A legacy of LKY’s style of balls-clenching governance. Hardball finger-pointing is what the PAP excel in, with an army of lawyers at their disposal, not concerned if what they do is unpopular, as long as it’s ‘right’. PM Lee just used ‘weasel away’ on Low Thia Khiang, by the way. I don’t think you should use any animal references on our PM without getting a letter of demand, and make him, well, barking mad.

8.Communal politics.

A euphemism for ‘racial politics’, this was tossed at a WP candidate in 1991 by Goh Chok Tong for ‘agitating the Malay ground’. The PAP themselves once accused Tang Liang Hong of being a ‘Chinese chauvinist’. Needless to say, Davinder Singh was involved then. He’s like Alfred to Lee Hsien Loong’s Bruce Wayne. I can imagine him tucking the younger Lee to sleep, whispering ‘So sire, who shall we sue tomorrow?’ before planting a warm avuncular kiss on his forehead.

9. Sound-bite politics

PM Lee’s retort to Low’s speech refers to how politicians use catchphrases to get attention but don’t back them up. All bark but no bite, essentially. Wayanging is a natural course in any form of politics, from the idealistic (WP’s ‘First World Parliament’) to the ferocious (LKY’s Repent) and the downright silly (Citizen-centric, Actionable, Recalibrate, Future-ready).

Mention ‘dirty politics’ or ‘money politics’, however, and you may be accused of ‘impugning the PM’s integrity and character’, and end up being best pals with Roy Ngerng. The PAP is a mixed bag really, and to proclaim that it practices ‘constructive politics’ exclusively is omitting the uglier aspects of its indomitable governance, that sometimes you need to be a hardball bastard, offer some ham and sausages, knee the opponent in the balls, or just follow the crowd and stick to the status quo to stay in power. It’s also ironic that a ‘heated debate’ about what constructive politics means is anything but constructive. A case of ‘popcorn politics’, perhaps?

Roy Ngerng defaming PM Lee in Heart Truths blog

From ‘Singapore blogger issued letter of demand by PM Lee’s lawyers’, 19 May 2014, article in CNA

Mr Roy Ngerng, author of a blog titled The Heart Truths, was today (May 19) issued a legal request by Drew & Napier, on behalf of Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, to remove an article that had been “published maliciously”, according to the lawyer’s letter.

According to the letter issued by Senior Counsel Davinder Singh, the blogpost, titled “Where your CPF Money Is Going: Learning From The City Harvest Trial”, is understood to mean that Mr Lee “is guilty of criminal misappropriation of the monies paid in the Central Provident Fund (CPF).

“This is a false and baseless allegation and constitutes a very serious libel against our client, disparages him and impugns his character, credit and integrity,” the letter, dated May 18, stated.

Mr Lee has requested that Mr Ngerng:

  • Immediately remove the blogpost;
  • Publish an apology on the homepage of his blog for as long as the offending blog post was left online; and
  • Pay compensation for damages and legal costs.

The blogger has three days to comply, failing which legal proceedings will be taken against him, the lawyer wrote.

Another year, another lawyer’s ‘letter of demand’, a euphemism for a written threat to sue. Calling the PM’s weapon of choice a ‘legal request’ is like calling a police warrant for your arrest a Hallmark greeting card. Other bloggers like Alex Au and TRS’s Richard Wan have complied quietly and helplessly to our PM’s demands after allegedly defaming the Government, and Roy Ngerng looks set to follow suit. Roy had planned a protest called ‘Return my CPF’, jointly run with another financial expert Leong Sze Hian, with the same fetish for bar graphs.

Law Minister K Shanmugam had this to say about the ‘right’ way of criticising ministers:

If you make a personal allegation of fact, if you say I took money, I am corrupt, I will then sue you and ask you to prove it. But if you say I am a stupid fool who doesn’t know what I’m talking about, and the Government comprises ministers who don’t know what they’re talking about and you criticise every policy of the Government, no one can sue you.

PM Lee probably took Roy’s post to implicitly mean that ‘he took money and he is corrupt’, but made no challenge for the blogger to ‘prove it’. Instead, the standard demands are raised just like it applies to anyone who had the audacity to go beyond calling the PM a ‘stupid fool': Remove, apologise or be damned. Roy seems to be have put much painstaking effort into charts and statistics, which I have no patience for, and it would be a shame if he’s not even given the chance to back himself up with his ‘research findings’. Meanwhile, you can hurl ‘baseless’ obscenities at the PM and his mother and the worst thing that could happen to you is losing your job. You could even create a bar chart of how much the PM sucks compared to other countries’ PMs and you wouldn’t be harrassed by Drew and Napier with a pitilessly self-deprecating apology written on your behalf.

Roy’s comparison of CPF handling with the City Harvest scamsters is scanty at best. First of all, churchgoers give their money WILLINGLY to Kong Hee and gang. We have no such liberties with CPF. Secondly, we will never ever see Ho Ching do a Sun Ho. Or maybe some of us are dying to actually see that happen, at the risk of our eyes bleeding. (By the way, Kong Hee has 95K Followers and counting on Twitter. Lee Hsien Loong, 71.5 K). Also, no matter how hard you pray to Jesus Christ, you will never see your hard-earned money until you hit 55.

Whatever the outcome of this, it has raised a valid concern about what exactly happens to our money. Is our CPF monies being used by GIC for investment or not? This is what the GIC website says in one of its FAQs:

The short answer is that GIC manages the Government’s reserves, but as to how the funds from CPF monies flow into reserves which could then be managed by either MAS, GIC or Temasek, this is not made explicit to us.

The ‘short answer’ should be ‘WE DON’T REALLY KNOW’. Well then, who does?

Even some of the PAP MPs themselves were confused when this issue was raised in Parliament in 2007. An article by Chua Mui Hoong quoted MP Sim Boon Ann as saying that CPF funds are ‘indirectly’ invested by Government through the GIC and other channels in external and real assets, and asked if its time to ‘wean the Government off CHEAP funds’. Ng Eng Hen was reported to remark that ‘the link between GIC and CPF was not so SIMPLE’, which doesn’t sound the least assuring.

Maybe instead of laying down the gauntlet so soon on Roy and hiring D and N (ideal names for a pair of twin attack rottweilers) to wallop his ass dry, the Government should ‘invest’ some time in cutting through this fog of jargon and tell the common man where exactly our money is. In the meantime, here is a picture of our PM hamming it up with some bloggers at an Istana party, a reminder that there are times when he does engage by showing up in person with arms wide open and not in the form of an aggressive, hissing letterhead.

The Hurt Truths

The Hurt Truths

UPDATE: Roy has taken down the offending post, apologised ‘unreservedly’ to the PM, and requested to waive the ‘damages’ and legal costs. Our PM is having none of it. While Richard Wan of TRE was spared from having to dig deep into his pockets, Roy, a healthcare worker, looks set to be the first non-politician citizen to have to compensate the PM for what’s deemed a ‘malicious’ article. Chee Soon Juan’s defamation suit in 2006 makes an interesting parallel to Roy’s CHC analogy , where he compared both Lees’ running of Singapore to that of the NKF scandal.The penalty? A whopping $330K to PM Lee. I think I would rather take the rotan than cough up anywhere near that sum. Maybe Roy should change the theme of his protest on the CPF to a fundraiser instead.

Tourists charged $707 for Alaskan king chilli crab

From ‘One meal equals to one meal’, 11 May 2014, article by Melody Ng, TNP

Seafood meals can be expensive. But a Filipino family on a trip here were stunned when they were hit with a bill for $1,186.20. Just the crab alone cost them $707.

Their meal on April 26 at Forum Seafood Village Restaurant at Boat Quay also included prawns, a fish and a plate of vegetables. Mr Santiago Caaway, 54, said the total bill was more than what the family paid for their flight here and back. The restaurant had been in the news previously after tourists accused it of over-charging. But Forum Seafood spokesman Thomas Tham said the restaurant clearly states its prices and patrons know how much the dishes cost.

And it was no ordinary crab that the Caaway family ordered. They had chilli Alaskan king crab, which other restaurants and seafood suppliers say is expensive. Was Mr Caaway aware that he was getting the Alaskan king crab instead of the more common and cheaper mud crab?

Mr Caaway claimed his family did not know there were different types of crab on the menu but said they wanted it cooked in chilli gravy. “We heard that Singapore is known for its chilli crab, so we thought we must have this,” said Mr Caaway, who has since returned to the Philippines.

The Alaskan king crab rip off aside, Caaway paid a remainder of almost $480 for ‘prawns, fish and vegetables’. They may not have heard of the Newton Tiger Prawn saga back in 2009, when a group of Americans were charged $239 for EIGHT tiger prawns at the iconic hawker centre. NEA ordered Tanglin Best BBQ Seafood to shut down for 3 months after STB relayed the complaint. Not sure if the prawns the Caaways ordered were of the tiger variety, but it was fortunate that they didn’t order the lobster, which was priced at $348 for 1.6kg in 2011, incidentally the target of an expat’s complaint. For the price of 1 Alaskan king crab, the Caaways could have had 6 servings of Sin Huat Crab Bee Hoon instead.

A case of following bad advice dished out by their hotel concierge, the Caaways could have avoided getting fleeced by Forum if they had read TripAdvisor’s reviews of the place, where hopping mad patrons reported the following prices and called the place a blatant tourist trap, with little being said about the actual quality of the food. Wonder if anyone told them about this other thing we have called ‘zi char’. Not in STB’s brochures or website, I suppose.

Fish – $115
Broccoli – $27
Asparagus – $20
Fried rice – $18
BBQ King prawn – $23. Each.
A ‘tofu dish’ – $30
Plain rice – $1.50

Philippine media also reported that a STB director had apologised personally to Caaway and made sure that they were ‘properly remunerated’ since this arose from a case of miscommunication between patron and staff. Despite the online flak, calls for boycott, and demands for closure, this place is still in business, just like how tourist traps remain viable in any other country. Rival Boat Quay restaurant Fuqing Marina Bay Seafood also has a reputation for charging ridiculous prices, with STB having to deal with a similar PR fallout after an American complained about his $210 crab a few years back. No wonder expats have rated us the most expensive city in the world.

It takes a savvy or experienced traveler to avoid such scams, and I’m not sure if we’re spoiling visitors by giving them partial refunds if they aren’t very streetwise when it comes to identifying potential daylight robbery. You can imagine other ‘crabby’ tourists exploiting STB’s niceness by claiming that they were ripped off by a seafood restaurant and expect compensation. In 1986, an exasperated Briton called it the ‘Singapore Rip’, after having to pay $30 for chilli crab at Punggol Point. These days, that’s the price you pay for a BBQ Prawnzilla. Buyer beware, especially if the menu reads ‘Seasonal prices’ and the staff spotted you entering the premises with your DSLR hung conspicuously around your neck. Not all foreigner complaints are valid of course. In 2001, one K. Will whined about paying TWO DOLLARS for one prawn at a East Coast seafood restaurant. Pretty average in those days if you ask me, unless he was talking about belacan-sized prawns instead.

A holiday gone terribly wrong for the Caaways, and such a shame and irony that it takes a national dish sampled in a wrong place to put all the efforts spent on a recent STB promo ad to utter waste.  Singapore always has a surprise for you indeed.

Foreign workers chatting over murukku in Chinese Garden

From ‘Chinese Garden’s faded glory’, 16 May 2014, article by Lee Jian Xuan, ST

…Once a popular tourist haunt in the 1970s and 1980s, Chinese Garden is seldom promoted as an attraction now and is deserted on most days, save for the odd runner. Earlier this month, its caretaker, JTC Corporation, said it had planned a long list of refurbishment works for Chinese Garden, including architectural repairs and new paint.

Designed by prominent Taiwanese architect Yu Yuen-chen, Chinese Garden was touted as “Singapore’s architectural pride” when it opened in 1975, a phoenix risen from what used to be marshes and swamps. It drew many visitors from near and far, as well as couples taking wedding pictures.

…Chinese Garden, which has no entrance fee on normal days, has turned into a retreat for foreign workers on weekends and public holidays. Some duck below ficus and yellow oleander trees, snapping selfies on their phones. Others laze beside the ponds and lakes, chatting and eating.

Indian shipyard worker Ganapathy Balasubramanian, 30, meets his friend, construction worker Prakash Chellayan, 30, every Sunday to chat over murukku.

In 1978, an Australian tourist wrote to the ST Forum suggesting that there should be a ‘unique trio’ of gardens around of the Jurong Lake area, Chinese, Japanese and an INDIAN garden. Jump to 2014 and it has indeed become a garden for Indian workers, if not eating murukku under some ficus trees then playing cricket on an area that once saw SBC actors like Chen Tianwen suspended on wires in wuxia getup swordfighting and saving Xiang Yun from distress.

Chinese Garden wasn’t warmly welcomed by all Jurong residents when it was initially proposed. One Jurong worker who was unable to get a flat in the area called the tourist attraction a ‘luxury project’, and complained that the money was better spent on housing. Others were worried that they couldn’t afford the entrance fee. In the late seventies, you would still get swindled of $1.20 for two bottles of chrysanthemum tea. Sinophile scholars swooned over its Sung dynasty inspired imperial architecture nonetheless, describing entering the Gardens as being transported into ‘Instant China’.With the number of PRCs among us these days, you don’t have to travel all the way to Jurong to experience the motherland anymore.

When it opened to much fanfare in 1975, the attraction was believed to be the largest classical Chinese garden built that century outside of China. By the 1990’s, it had degraded into a mosquito-breeding, deserted eyesore. Today, there’s nothing more ‘cheena’ about Chinese Garden than the roof design of the MRT named after it, its Twin Towers and Pagoda still resembling the campy set of a Mediacorp period drama, a lacklustre imitation of everything you’ve ever seen in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. You’re more likely to see foreign workers picnicking than old men in majestic robes doing taichi, more people jogging than doing calligraphy, kids engaging in watersports in the Lake than poets drifting about in a lone sampan fanning themselves pensively in the morning mist.

Here are some other facts you didn’t know about the Chinese and Japanese Gardens.

1. The centrepiece of the Garden, the 7 tier pagoda, was once compared to the one at Cheng-Ching Lake, Taiwan. 

2. Japanese Garden is also known as ‘Seiwa-en’, conceived by none other than Dr Goh Keng Swee himself, Seiwa-en meaning Singapore’s (Sei) Japanese (Wa) Garden (En). It also opened 2 years BEFORE Chinese Garden.

3. Entrance fees for the Japanese Gardens in 1973 was 40 cents (adult), 20 Cents (child) and FIFTY CENTS for a CAMERA. Yes, your camera was worth more than a human being. In the 1990’s, this increased to $4.50 per adult.

4. The statue of Confucius, donated to the Chinese Garden by the Taiwanese, was worth $100, 000.

5. A Registry of Marriages branch opened  in 1982, which catered to couples who wanted to have their solemnisations done over the weekend. By 1984, it was gone.

6. In 1981, it rained BULLETS on Jurong Lake, believed to be an accidental machine gun misfiring by a company under the Defence Ministry known as ODE (Ordnance Development and Engineering). Thankfully no one was hurt.

7. There were plans in 1991 to build an UNDERGROUND MUSEUM at Chinese Gardens. Shelved, obviously.

8. The now defunct Tang Dynasty City, a failed theme park located near the Gardens, once had ambitions to build a $500,000 earthquake simulator from Japan. A disastrous venture, this vanity project with its army of robot terracotta warriors cost $100 million to build, opened in 1992 and had closed shop before the end of that decade.

9. The Live Tortoise and Turtle Museum collection features an exotic reptile called the MATA-MATA. I heard the Police need a mascot.

10. Chinese Garden MRT was once called Jurong Lake Station. 

Man sacked for insulting PM Lee on Mother’s Day

From ‘Man fired after posting vulgar reply to PM’s Facebook post’, 15 May 2014, article by KC Vijayan, ST

A FACEBOOK user who posted vulgar abuse in response to Mother’s Day wishes by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has been sacked from his job. Mr Ridhuan Abdullah, 30, had identified himself as a security officer at “Keith Morton” on the post, which triggered the move.

The security firm’s owner, Mr William Morton Jr, said yesterday that such conduct cannot be condoned, particularly from security officers who are expected to uphold basic standards of decorum.

“He clearly breached our company’s code of conduct and we cannot tolerate this,” he said.

Keith Morton Security, a private security firm that does mostly security work for private buildings, is based in Upper Changi Road and employs about 90 staff. Mr Ridhuan, who was last deployed at a condominium complex in the Holland Road area, was given his marching orders on Monday, the day after he wrote the post.

From the 'Fabrications About the PAP' FB

From the ‘Fabrications About the PAP’ FB

Everything is wrong with Ridhuan’s approach to social media. He has his FACE on his profile, actual name, place of work, location and uses the cliche ‘School of Life’ to imply that every living, breathing moment holds valuable lessons to be inspired from. And then he cusses at the Prime Minister. Welcome to the Principal’s Office of Life, you silly man.

You don’t have to insult the PM’s mother, or swear at any specific person to lose your job. Amy Cheong called Malay weddings cheap on Facebook and got sacked from NTUC. Anton Casey mocked the poor unwashed masses and got kicked out of CrossInvest Asia. So maybe it’s time this ex-security officer start looking for openings in Perth. Or just go for plastic surgery and start life anew without Facebook forever.

I doubt our PM will file charges for disrespectful behaviour, him being thick-skinned and flame-proof and all. Insulting a JUDGE on the other hand, may not just get you fired, but JAILED for contempt. Former Singaporean and now US citizen Gopalan Nair accused judge Belinda Ang in his blog of ‘prostituting herself’ to PM Lee and his father during court proceedings whereby they were testifying in a defamation suit against the SDP. He got slapped with a 3 month jail sentence. Leslie Chew, cartoonist, was charged with scandalising the judiciary after mocking the system in his comic strip Demon-cratic Singapore.  Both cases suggest that you can get away with dropping F-bombs on WORLD LEADERS, but not High Court judges. Or maybe not quite. DPM Teo Chee Hean once invited JC student Reuben Wang over for a chat after the latter blogged ‘Fuck you, sir’ in response to the Minister’s handling of questions at a seminar. The kid apologised overnight.

So this knee-jerk dismissal of Ridhuan may be a ‘missed opportunity’ for our PM to show some grace under fire, to invite Ridhuan over for some kueh lapis and tea, show him the YPAP recruitment video, and turn his angry soul into one with a passion for servant leadership. School of Life indeed.

 

 

 

DJ Joe Augustin calling Cassandra Chiu an ‘asshole’

From ‘Mediacorp fined $6300 for using derogatory term on air’, 15 May 2014, article by Janice Tai, ST

A fine of $6,300 has been slapped on Mediacorp by the Media Development Authority (MDA) for its deejay’s use of a derogatory term on air. On March 20, Mediacorp radio deejay Joe Augustin used a derogatory term (‘asshole’) on Ms Cassandra Chiu, who is blind, for complaining that the visually-impaired were being discriminated against and denied food at McDonald’s.

Ms Chiu, who moves around with a guide dog, had earlier posted on Facebook that she was refused free muffins at the fast food outlet because she is blind. Ms Chiu has been vocal on social media about being rejected at local establishments, such as clothing store Forever 21 and ice-cream shop Haagen-Dazs, because her guide dog was not allowed in.

Irritated by her constant complaints, Mr Augustin used an offensive term on her,and repeated it on air the next day to ask listeners if he was justified in doing so. MDA said in a statement on Wednesday: “As a free-to-air radio broadcaster, MediaCorp is expected to observe the requirements laid out in the Free-to-air Radio Programme Code which seeks to protect community interests by ensuring broadcast programming do not offend good taste or decency.”

Joe Augustin has every right to think that a demanding blind woman with a guide dog is behaving like an asshole, but to mouth off such a word on air is crude and unprofessional, even if it takes some brash balls to do it.  It’s like calling a baby a asshole, or somebody’s grandmother one. It’s, for lack of a better word, just MEAN. Even politicians, however, sometimes use it in their petty squabbles. In 1995, Chiam See Tong accused SDP’s Ling How Doong of calling him a ‘bastard’ and ‘asshole’. Ling, in turn, complained about Chiam using ‘bumbling idiot’ on him. The difference is that the media saw it fit to print the ‘A’ word almost 20 years ago. Today it’s just a ‘derogatory term’, which covers everything from ‘bitch’ to ‘silly woman’.

A veteran station hopper covering the whole range of radio channels from Power 98, Radio 91.3, Gold 90.5 FM and now Class95, Joe has a ravenous appetite for controversy, citing his ‘passion’ as a reason why his on-air partners find it hard working with him, except when he was teaming up with  Flying Dutchman on Class 95, a pairing which has become legend in the ANNALS of ‘morning show’ radio. Even his current partner wasn’t spared, with Joe once calling Glenn Ong, another one known for offensive wisecracks, ‘scum worthy’ following his divorce from Kate Reyes. Which can also translate to ‘asshole’. Ong once called for a mentally ill person  creating a ruckus in public to be put to sleep like a mad dog. A pair made in heaven, then.

Joe had a couple of ill-fated partnerships with Petrina Kow and then Shareen Wong, where in both instances he was terminated, the latter for reading out an SMS from management on public radio. In 2012, a Facebook joke landed him a lawyer’s letter, the details of  the joke remain unknown. He also once did a stand-up comedy stint at the Jubilee Hall back in 1998, and if he’s asked to go again following this swipe at a visually handicapped woman, he could try that out for a living, a job where you can pepper every sentence with one ‘asshole’ and get away with it. After all, Singapore is in dire need for a new ‘favourite funnyman’. This ‘asshole’ comment appears to solidify Joe’s position as the enfant terrible of shock jock radio, with people like Rod Monteiro and gang coming off as the next great pretenders to the throne. The throne of DJ assholes.

So how much of an ‘asshole’ was Cassandra Chiu being, really? When she first broke the news about how Forever 21 staff regarded Esme, I felt ashamed for our ‘compassion deficit’. This was followed by a series of dramatic rejections elsewhere, McDonalds’ on ‘Free Breakfast Day’, Haagen Daaz, Tanglin Mall, all told through the eyes of her furry friend Esme on Facebook. Few of us can truly appreciate what a normal day is like for Cassandra, so if you’re looking forward to a hash brown and coffee and squealed at among a stampede of kiasu Singaporeans early in the morning for bringing a dog in the premises, you may be excused if you decide to make a big fuss about it. Some of her, or rather Esme’s, posts may not be entirely fair to the establishment that denied them, like this one for example.

Screen Shot 2014-05-14 at 8.50.02 PM

Or this one summoning the image of poor Esme being FLUNG right out of the door with her tail between her legs. Of course anyone with a heart who loves dogs will FLIP without even reading further, and maybe even dump their tub of Haagen Daaz right down the chute in disgust. After spitting into it. To folks like Joe Augustin who wouldn’t give you ‘face’ just because you’re blind, it’s emotional manipulation.

Screen Shot 2014-05-14 at 8.56.42 PM

Of course, Cassandra and Esme seem to have far more pleasant experiences than negative ones, with many random strangers and companies being praised and thanked for their services, and the occasional unlucky ones like McDs suffering their combined wrath. Like Joe and FD once upon a time, these two are inseparable.

If I were blind and someone were to still call me names, I would take it that they were treating me just like they treat perfectly healthy individuals, and appreciate their willingness to suspend all sympathy just because I can’t see shit. Wow, I would say, that’s the first time anyone’s ever said that to me! Everyone else who thinks I’m annoying simply shuffles away like they’ve just seen a ghost that they can’t offend! Then I’d flip the bugger my still functional, middle finger and raise my free Egg McMuffin in the air, victorious like Harry Potter catching a Golden Snitch, with my trusty guide dog taking a sloppy piss in his general direction.

 

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