TRS creators charged with sedition

From ‘The Real Singapore duo slapped with 7 charges under Sedition Act’, 15 April 2015, article in CNA

The couple behind socio-political website The Real Singapore (TRS) – a 26-year-old Singaporean man and a 22-year-old Australian woman – were on Tuesday (Apr 14) each charged with seven counts of sedition.

Yang Kaiheng and Ai Takagi allegedly published seditious articles on the website between October 2013 and February 2015. One of these articles falsely claimed that an incident between police and some members of the public during a Thaipusam procession on Feb 3 had been sparked by a Filipino family’s complaint that the drums played during the procession upset their child. The contributor of the article posted on another website that the allegations made in the TRS piece were untrue.

Yang is Singaporean, while Ai Takagi is Australian. According to the charge sheets, the particular articles have the “tendency to promote feelings of ill-will and hostility between different groups of people in Singapore, name, between ethnic Indians in Singapore and Philippine nationals in Singapore”.

…Under the Sedition Act, the duo are liable, on conviction for a first offence, to a fine of up to S$5,000 or to imprisonment for a term of up to three years, or to both. As for the charge under the Penal Code, they are punishable with imprisonment of a maximum of one month, or a maximum fine of S$1,500, or both.

From St article 15 April 15, Couple behind TRS website face sedition charges

From St article 15 April 15, Couple behind TRS website face sedition charges

The ‘seditious’ articles are still online as we speak. In the Thaipusam article, it is alleged that the provocative but flawed eye-witness account ‘asserts’ that a Filipino family CAUSED the clash. Since instruments are banned during the festival, I would imagine the police confronting the musicians anyway, with or without a crying Pinoy child. But if anyone tries to push the argument of cause vs correlation they may just find themselves at the receiving end of a contempt of court charge.

If it weren’t a Pinoy family but say an Indian family of another caste, would that constitute ‘sedition’? What about the xenophobic backlash against the celebration of Philippine Independence Day in Orchard? Shouldn’t those Singaporean bigots who fumed against the event get slapped with sedition charges as well? Or the PRC family who complained about the smell of curry from their Indian neighbours. When does a symptom of xenophobia become deadly ‘seditious’?

In the other offending article on Filipino employers, Pinoys are described as ‘relentless backstabbers’ and generally ‘share the same traits’. This guy was basically stereotyping a particular race/nationality, just like how some Facebooker complained about the smell of a certain race on the MRT, or some ex-presidential candidate thought he was in Bombay while on a bus. If I say ‘those damned Americans are a bunch of redneck hillbillies’, would I be accused of inciting hostility among groups? When Amos Yee derided Christians, he was ‘causing distress’ and ‘harassment’ but not ‘promoting ill-will’. If he had insulted another religion would he be slapped with sedition? We were all even called ‘dogs’ once by PRC scholar Sun Xu. I doubt he was bitten by a single charge. Anton Casey flew to Perth before anyone thought about whether his remarks were deemed seditious because some Singaporeans got so insulted they wanted him to pay dearly with his life.

Does hiding racial stereotypes behind ‘stand-up comedy’ protect you from sedition charges, like if you mimic an Indian accent for example? If Kumar says ‘You Chinese buggers all only know how to gamble’, do I have a case against him?  The acronym ‘PRC’ is particularly offensive. In the ‘pee in a bottle’ article, the writer simply assumed that the woman who let her grandson drop his pants and wee in public was a ‘PRC’. Nothing else was mentioned about how she wanted to sabotage all hotpots in Geylang and blow up all the PRCs eating from it. PRC is the ‘n**ger’ of Chinese nationals. Just like when Edz Ello called us ‘stinkaporeans’, we couldn’t take it and demanded that he join the Sedition Squad.

Likewise, the PRC stripper article was about how ‘the majority’ of Chinese women come here on bogus work permits to steal other people’s husbands. Nothing new here. People have been harbouring negative stereotypes about ‘China women’ for more than a decade. Do we see people rounding them up and hanging them from trees and poke them with hot skewers? No. Do people make wild empty threats against the entire community on Facebook? Of course. Do we need to bother with what they say? I guess it depends. The Sedition laws seem to guard against the possibility that people take such comments so seriously they would brandish a flaming pitchfork over it. In the past, ‘seditious literature’ was serious business. They were documents specifically designed to instigate a mutiny against British imperialists, not some rant about why you think people from a certain country suck.

If the TRS offends you, you have the moral obligation not to read or share its articles. If you experience discrimination at work, you can take formal action with the authorities without dehumanising the entire race online. Let’s not kid ourselves that racial/foreigner tensions don’t exist. We are an island of tribes and little cosy enclaves getting the job done in spite of our differences, not a ‘It’s a Small World After All’ theme ride.

Illegal Geylang peddlers pranked by Merlion TV

From ‘Police investigating video pranksters’, 25 Jan 2015, article by Danson Cheong, Sunday Times

A group of pranksters who pretended to be plainclothes officers in order to terrorise illegal cigarette peddlers may have got themselves in trouble with the real police. The pranksters, who call themselves MerlionTV, uploaded a two-minute video on Jan 14 called “Scaring the s*** out of illegal dealers in Red Light District”.

It shows a crew member approaching cigarette peddlers in Geylang and pretending to be an interested customer. But right after, he walks away and pretends to speak into a mouthpiece. In one segment, he is heard saying: “10/20 Romeo, we found a subject, we found a subject.”

Another crew member then lunges from the shadows, and the peddler is then seen running away desperately. The crew members give a short chase before returning to the abandoned cigarettes and showing off the goods.

Three peddlers, all seemingly foreigners, were targeted in the video, which carries a disclaimer saying the crew “did not impersonate any police officers or law enforcement entities”.

Geylang is scheduled for ‘re-zoning’ and a public alcohol consumption ban to free itself from its reputation as a sleazy foreign worker enclave with an undercurrent of ‘lawlessness’. Until then, it’s still open season for syndicates to ply their contraband trade, in this case what the ICA calls ‘duty-unpaid’ cigarettes. Not sure if the Merlion TV team knew that they could be fined $500 for buying the stuff, even if what they pulled off here was part prank, part vigilante sting operation, a fake vice raid that the SMRT Feedback group would surely approve. Though laughs were intended, the video does raise some serious questions about the state of enforcement in the district, like ‘Where the hell were the actual authorities’? and ‘Are these immigrants even legal?’

Impersonating an officer is a serious crime, of course. You could wave your fake badge and swing your fake baton and pressure prostitutes into having discount sex with you. Or you could ‘confiscate’ sex drugs or cough syrup dressed up in fake police paraphernalia bought from Peninsula Shopping Centre. Maybe the real police can check that place out for a change. Imagine all those fraudsters out there wearing tight black shirts with the words ‘POLICE’ emblazoned on them scaring gullible folk into surrendering their ICs, money, phones or even their damned virginity. I may even be forced to give up my queue for Hello Kitty at Mcdonalds if I get approached by one with a fake stern mug.

In a previous ‘Purge’ prank, the guys were stalking innocent bystanders with a weapon and managed to get away scot-free to indulge in more ‘extreme Candid Camera’ silliness. Now, the police are again hot on their tails for creating what could be deemed a ‘public nuisance’, though technically they did not identify themselves as police officers. But this is Geylang, not Bishan Park, and people getting chased all over the place screaming ‘Mata lai liao!’ is the norm. There shouldn’t be any unnecessary ‘fear, alarm of distress’ out of the ordinary here, and if the Police decide to arrest the team for making a mockery out of the profession, you’d expect fans to complain that the cops should be out there rounding up the masterminds behind the illicit street trade instead of locking up some video pranksters with a warped idea of fun.

The fact that foreign workers appear to be exploited here suggests that there’s more to this than just an underground black market trade, probably someone ‘higher up’ is plotting a revenge gang war as we speak. Ironically, the people behind the Purge prank are giving the authorities greater reason to ‘purge’ dirty, chaotic, smutty Geylang once and for all. And since we are imposing a liquor control zone in this hotbed of vice, how about passing a Bill to ban all selling, possession and smoking of cigarettes too? Duty paid or unpaid.

Public consumption of alcohol to be banned after 10.30pm

From ‘Stricter laws on public alcohol consumption proposed’, 19 Jan 2015, article in CNA

The public will not be able to purchase alcohol for take-away or consume alcohol in public places from 10.30pm to 7am daily when liquor control laws proposed in Parliament on Monday (Jan 19) kick in. The Liquor Control (Supply and Consumption) Bill was introduced on Monday.

The start time of 10.30pm is aligned with the closing time of most businesses in residential areas, and it is the time by which most community events, including getai, end, said the Ministry of Home Affairs in a media statement. The restriction will apply to all public places to avoid displacement of problems from one area to another, MHA said.

People will continue to be allowed to drink at home, at approved events and in licensed establishments such as bars and coffee shops outside of these hours, the MHA said.

Under the proposed law, Little India and Geylang will be designated Liquor Control Zones and come under stricter restrictions on alcohol consumption and retail hours of take-away alcohol, based on the police’s operational assessment. Such zones are where there is significant risk of public disorder associated with excessive drinking.

Under the new restrictions, you can’t bring booze to a BBQ in East Coast Park at night without applying for a ‘liquor consumption permit’. Likewise if you and your significant other intend to celebrate Valentine’s Day with champagne over a moonlit picnic. The punishment for your midnight revelry is a fine of up to $1000, and if you happen to be intoxicated within the Liquor Control Zone, the police have the right to tell you to ‘leave and DISPOSE of your liquor’, failure of which is a 6 months jail-time. All this doesn’t, however, address the problem of drunk-driving, which accumulated over any festive period may cause more deaths, injuries and blocked roads than your occasional Little India Riot, whether you drink in the day or night. You don’t even need a drop of alcohol to trigger disorderly behaviour. SMRT bans ALL forms of drinks on the train but people still fight over priority seats anyway.

To single out Geylang is no surprise, it being called a ‘powder keg’ and all, but this zonal extension is a ominous sign of ‘nanny-creep’, where you may have LCZs being slowly formed elsewhere for our ‘protection’, from Joo Chiat to goddamn Joo Koon.  Tekka hawker centre near Little India has already suffered from the migration of the drunken blight, with police banning beer bottles in the premises. So what’s a midnight outdoor drinker to do? Stock up your fridge, invite your friends over, get pissed drunk, and get into an indoor brawl over cricket. Well, at least it’s not a PUBLIC disgrace- that is until someone gets thrown out of the 8th storey window in the heat of battle.

What about those Robertson Quay teens, who now deprived of their fun beverage, decide to turn to another drug of choice, nicotine, or something more illicit perhaps? They sure as hell ain’t converting to detox juices. Worse, they may even drink MORE than their usual fill before the curfew clock strikes 10.30pm, after which the police won’t just be stalking people holding onto beer cans, but fishing out bodies from the river into which the intoxicated kids plunged to their deaths.

If the Government is serious about the alcohol scourge, they should ban outdoor consumption 24/7, or risk having public buses impeded by suicidal drunks in broad daylight. It seems like the only thing stopping us from banning alcohol altogether is sin taxes. But as if increasing the tax isn’t enough, now you’ll need to pay for a permit to bring a chiller stocked with Tiger beer to a beach party. Might as well make full use of that hard-earned permit by binging and destroying your livers too. Good luck with that, though, if you intend to hold a party for some Bangladeshi guest workers. You may have to pay the authorities extra for the chaperone riot police.

In fact, with the ban in place and you can no longer buy cheap beer from 7/11 in the middle of the night, alcoholics are being nudged towards the ‘licensed retailers’, meaning bars and kopitiams benefit, so hooray for more sin taxes, and if you have to drive just to get your fix, then you’re giving the traffic police, or the Grim Reaper, more work to do. If the objective is the maintenance of public order and safety, then a supplement Bill should be tabled along with the alcohol curbs. How about the banning of picking and throwing of projectiles, lighting fires, or use of makeshift bamboo poles as spears in public? Hell, even walking around with your face glued to your phone is a safety hazard. Why not ban public texting or watching Korean drama videos on phones too?

Ironically, the tagline for Singapore’s own Tiger beer is ‘UnCAGE’, but what we’re creating here, because we don’t trust people to behave responsibly in the presence of alcohol, are depressing cages of sobriety.

Llao llao discriminating against non-Mandarin speaking woman

From ‘Yogurt chain to raise hiring standards after shunning woman for not speaking Mandarin’, 15 Jan 2015, article by Joanna Seow, ST

Frozen yogurt chain llaollao has promised to improve its hiring guidelines after a local woman was allegedly turned away from a job interview because she could not speak Mandarin.

Indian undergraduate Karishma Kaur, 22, applied for a part-time role at the company’s West Mall branch on Jan 7 but said she was not given an interview as the manager spoke only Mandarin and could not interview her in English.

After she posted about the matter on Facebook, the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (Tafep) received a complaint about it on Jan 12 and is looking into the issue.

Llaollao Singapore’s country manager Edwin Ferroa said he has been in talks with Tafep “to look into how we can better the way we employ”, and added: “We don’t condone such discriminatory behaviour based on race, language or religion.”

He said that the company had already begun probing the incident on Jan 10 and found that the woman who had spoken with Ms Kaur was the wife of the store’s owner who had been helping out. She was not an actual employee.

To date, there are no anti-discriminatory laws in Singapore. The Tafep, launched by Minister Tan Chuan Jin, makes ‘guidelines’, organises workshops to teach employers about ‘fair’ hiring and if necessary, slaps ‘demerit points’ on recalcitrant companies. Since then, the agency has shamed companies for wanting directors ‘aged around 30 years’, ‘Filipinos only’, ‘Malaysian PRs’ and ‘preferred Female Chinese’. Some companies are more specific on who would make ideal employees – people who recoil at the ‘thought of having kids’. Others, while not guilty of discriminatory advertising, may drop you during the interview if you have a barely noticeable baby bump, stutter, or are openly gay.

According to the Tripartite guidelines, you are discouraged from employing people based on age, race, gender, religion, marital status and family responsibilities, or disability unless exempted by the nature of work. For obvious reasons, you need someone who’s fluent in Mandarin in order to be a tour guide for PRCs, or you’ll have to exclude Muslims if you’re dealing with Bee Cheng Hiang bakkwa. If you’re hiring masseurs, you’d have to say sorry to the guy missing both thumbs.

However, the guidelines do not say anything against hiring people based on their LOOKS. Which means Abercrombie and Fitch can get away with hiring ‘attractive’ people, Hooters can pick and choose employees with a ‘GREAT SMILE’, and our very own SIA can reject any lady below 1.58m tall. A ‘pleasant’ look, as everyone knows, is euphemism for ‘good-looking’. In my experience patronising hip ice-cream or yogurt joints, you’re more likely to be served by young women in shorts than, well, 40-ish uncles in khakis and crocs. Just look at this FB post, which claims that the company hires ‘Singaporeans or PRs only’. Apparently they missed out the ‘Speak no English OK’ requirement. According to Ms Kaur, she was told that the manager of the West Mall stall was ‘from China’. Well well, you’ve got some explaining to do, Llaollao!

LMAO

LMAO!

Another notable absence from the guide is discrimination against one’s ‘sexual orientation’. You’re unlikely to get a job as a Sunday school teacher if you’re a transgender, nor have we heard of openly gay colonels in the SAF. Goldman Sachs, however, has a team dedicated to hiring LGBT staff, which one could counter-argue to be discriminatory against heterosexuals. What about ‘political beliefs’? Just ask Cherian George. Or ‘dietary habits’, like say I only hire vegetarians for my Animal Rescue company because of my belief that anyone who loves animals shouldn’t be eating them as well?

As an employer, it’s easy to slide from ‘discerning’ to ‘discriminatory’. The harsh truth is no one who cares about the survival of their business is just going to hire any Tom, Dick or Harry willy-nilly for the sake of universal equality. If you want to publish a politically correct ad for a beer server in a kopitiam, for example, following the guidelines strictly would mean something like ‘Wanted: A human being (nope, even ‘waitress’ is frowned upon). With a working brain’. Which is a waste of not just your candidate’s time, but yours as well. As for the hugely popular frozen yogurt chain, I doubt this series of events would turn the business cold, though you may want to familiarise yourself with yogurt flavours in Chinese the next time you order.

MP Intan Mokhtar not knowing what Internet hiding is

From ‘MP says she does not know Yang personally’, 26 Sept 2014, article by Carolyn Khew, Toh Yong Chuan, ST

MEMBER of Parliament Intan Azura Mokhtar said yesterday that she did write a letter of appeal regarding Mr Yang Yin’s application for permanent residency (PR) here. But she did so only at the behest of Madam Chung Khin Chun. Questions had been raised over the former China tour guide’s role in the Jalan Kayu Neighbourhood Committee, after pictures of him at various grassroots activities surfaced online. The People’s Association confirmed that he had been a member of the neighbourhood committee since July 5 last year but resigned on Sept 8 this year.

Dr Intan, who is an MP in Ang Mo Kio GRC and adviser to the committee, said she did not know Mr Yang personally. She recalls meeting him only when he was participating in a cooking activity. She does remember the time Madam Chung approached her.

“She first came to see me and sought my help in May 2011… for her grandson,” said Dr Intan. “This is what she told me and I referred Madam Chung’s request to the authorities.” She said she responded only because Madam Chung was “a resident of my constituency and a Singaporean”.

“If Mr Yang had come to me, I wouldn’t be able to help him because he’s not a Singaporean,” she said. “What I would have told him is that you probably can apply for PR to the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority directly.”

Dr Intan also said she later received a piece of “feedback” on Mr Yang. She did not reveal the nature of the feedback as there are ongoing court proceedings concerning Mr Yang, but said it was forwarded to the authorities the same day.

…In recent days, Dr Intan’s Facebook page has been inundated with questions about Mr Yang. Some claimed that she had gone into “Internet hiding” by not addressing the questions and making her Facebook page private.

When asked if comments about Mr Yang had been deleted from her Facebook page, she said the staff administering the site may have done so and she does not know what “Internet hiding” is.

The perks of being a grassroots leader include having reserved parking spots, priority queue in primary 1 registration, and in the case of Yang Yin, probably a chance to meet more lonely widows to swindle. A significant number of grassroots ‘leaders’ are PRs or new citizens. In 2010, it was reported that more than 6000, or 20% of the total grassroots team, were not born in this country. Though I suppose the majority of grassroots activists are probably decent people who want to ‘give back’ to the community, you will get the occasional con-artist,  upskirt pervert and even a ‘third party’, new immigrant or not.

The ICA explains that joining grassroots activities does not earn you extra ‘points’ when it comes to applying for PR or citizenship.  Some considerations hinted at by a 2007 online ‘Naturalisation Eligibility Tool‘ were type of work pass, educational qualifications, annual income, and identity of your spouse and children. In 2009, PRC construction boss Lin Shuliang tried to con the ICA with fake qualifications, ending up in jail. Malaysian pilot Ryan Goh had his PR status revoked for masterminding an SIA protest and pissing off LKY. It appears that the ICA doesn’t take too kindly to liars or rebels. Not sure about shameless gold-diggers, or how Yang Yin, an ex-tour guide, would have qualified based on this internal ‘points system’ if not for a helping hand from his friendly neighbourhood MP. I mean, even a male MASSEUR can pass the ICA criteria, a profession which I suppose the Government believes we’re clearly in ‘knead’ of.

Other than giving a sloppy reason to recommend PR status to someone she hardly knew, MP Intan goes on to feign ignorance about ‘Internet hiding’ despite people not being able to locate her Facebook page anymore. I can tolerate a politician who fudges answers, even to the extent of putting the blame on a lonely widow with dementia, but I have little respect for one who looks away and shrugs nonchalantly when the shit hits the fan, like an army general waltzing away whistling, denying any involvement with a red button after launching a nuclear missile attack.

The Yang Yin fiasco speaks volumes about how the relevant authorities tend to abide blindly to an MP’s referral, and only scurry back to investigate Yang’s PR status AFTER he was called out, by which time he had skimmed off enough of his victim’s generosity to treat his family to Jumbo Seafood or afford to splurge on a $14,000 Frank Muller. Madam Chung probably realised too late that he ‘loved money’ more than anything, including herself. If the ICA had stuck to their guns, they would have saved the embarrassment for both MP Intan and their own sorry asses.

Intan doesn’t concede that it was a poor decision to push Yang for PR, and proceeds to excrete an even poorer choice of words that makes the doctorate holder look, for a lack of a better word, dumb. I wonder if she knows how to turn herself ‘invisible’ while on group chats, because that’s Internet Hiding 101 for social media ‘noobs’. In any case, this is what you can uncover about MP Intan from the Internet, proof that she can jolly well run, but can’t ‘hide’, including some facts that makes her ‘play dumb’ act rather incredulous.

1. She’s a Physics grad and MASTER of SCIENCE. Nowhere in her CV does she claim a mastery of tai-chi.

2. She spoke in Parliament beseeching the Government to think twice before BRINGING IN MORE FOREIGNERS. Unless of course they have to do it at the ‘behest’ of someone who owns a $30 million house.

3. Her doctoral research focused on the information literacy education of secondary school students in Singapore. Even if you genuinely have no clue what ‘Internet hiding’ means, at least put some effort into, well, FINDING OUT.

Here’s an idea to escape from the flaming, Dr Intan. Find a shovel. Dig a hole (with the help of your Facebook administrators perhaps?). Then jump into it.

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. 

Golden Mile Complex belongs in a Mumbai slum

From ‘Buildings not worth preserving’, 9 May 2014, My Point, ST Forum

(Anuradha Singh): THE Golden Mile Complex in Beach Road is one of the ugliest buildings I have ever seen. It looks like it belongs in a Mumbai slum. To even think of preserving it is absurd (“Architects keen on conservation status for Pearl Bank”; yesterday).

When many beautiful old buildings are being demolished in the name of “development”, why maintain this monstrosity in the name of modernist architecture?

There are many fine examples of modernist architecture worth preserving – but Golden Mile Complex and People’s Park Complex do not belong in that category.

Golden Slumdog Millionaire

I don’t know if Anuradha has actually been to a Mumbai slum, but who made this woman the heritage AUTHORITY in deciding what should be preserved and what should be demolished? A favela in Rio would be a more apt description. Still, she may be right about the ugliness. In 2006, NMP Ivan Png echoed the writer’s sentiments and called Golden Mile a ‘vertical slum’ and a national DISGRACE. Other Singaporeans slammed it as an EYESORE, and that it belonged in the same slummy category as Lucky Plaza (incidentally also a foreign worker enclave like Golden Mile). Maybe in a few decades’ time people will be complaining about another ugly building that has erstwhile become a national icon, the hanging surfboard that is Marina Bay Sands. You won’t have to look far, though, for the OTHER slum in our spanking clean Garden City – the entire Hougang GRC. Would the writer suggest going all Sodom and Gomorrah on Hougang as well?

Here are some things you never knew about Golden Mile Complex, other than it being the only place in town you can celebrate Songkran with actual water. For a while, it was the pinnacle of urban living and a tremendous ‘breakthrough’ in Singapore architecture intended to attract the well-heeled, the ‘mile high club’, so to speak. Today it’s a top contender for Architecture’s equivalent of the World’s Ugliest Dog award, with people so pissed off with its look that they would come in like a wrecking ball themselves to knock it out of existence.

1. In the 70’s, you could buy a ‘luxury apartment’ and ‘penthouse’ with a ‘uninterrupted panoramic’ seafront view, facing even the Southern Islands.

2. Golden Theatre, opened in 1973, boasted a preview room and a VIP LOUNGE, and was one of the BIGGEST theatres in those days.  These days it screens softcore porn and the occasional Hindi blockbuster.

3. In 1989, you could buy Thai nudie mags disguised as ‘respectable women’s magazines’ there for $3. Ah, pre-Internet.

4. The ‘ugly’ facade was intended to resemble a ship, and by the mid eighties has been described as a ‘tacky beach cruiser’. Well, from certain angles, you could see why. All aboard, mateys.

Not so smooth sailing

5. It was designed by a team of architects including Tay Kheng Soon. In his bio for the 2010 Fifth Gold Medal Recipient, works cited include KK Hospital, ITE Bishan and Serangoon Gardens Country Club. GMC wasn’t mentioned. As for KKH, doesn’t its cross section in this draft remind you of something else, a cruise ship maybe? A GOLDEN cruise ship?

6. Its stepped terrace design has been praised by international architecture experts including Dutch Rem Koolhaas, who referred to Golden Mile and her sister ‘monstrosity’ People’s Park Complex, as ‘accidental’ landmarks and bold ‘experimental’ structures. They’re probably the same people who gush over Mumbai slums because there’s nothing sexier to architects than chaos and decadent sprawl. As long as they don’t live a day in it.

7. Lastly, GMC has also been compared to a typewriter.

An icon doesn’t need to be pretty to endear to Singaporeans and tourists alike, and we don’t need to rely on just refurbished shophouses or rusty religious buildings to add ‘character’ to our city. GMC and People’s Park are just a couple of many local designers’ creations out there threatened by collective sale. Victor Chew’s Cairnhill Hilltops and Ming Court Hotel (now Orchard Parade Hotel) were given the Godzilla treatment. If we don’t start conserving now, all we’d have left on this tiny island are HDB blocks,  condos and ugly showpieces commissioned to foreign designers, too expensive to tear down. Losing Golden Mile would be like sweeping ‘lawless’ Geylang off the map.

Still good as Gold Photo credit: Darren Soh

Still good as Gold
Photo credit: Darren Soh

GMC is not just a Thai hangout and hub of sleaze where you could get a gloryhole blowjob from a stranger in a cubicle of the dingiest loo in the country. Even if GMC fails to remain viable as a mixed-use building, it could at least be preserved as a location to shoot a dystopian Judge Dredd action movie. But for now it’s still a workplace, home and even SECOND HOME to many people, Thai workers included, and to call for its destruction because it burns your eyeballs just to gaze at it is, well, rather ugly thinking too.

THE Golden Mile Complex in Beach Road is one of the ugliest buildings I have ever seen. It looks like it belongs in a Mumbai slum. To even think of preserving it is absurd (“Architects keen on conservation status for Pearl Bank”; yesterday).

When many beautiful old buildings are being demolished in the name of “development”, why maintain this monstrosity in the name of modernist architecture?

There are many fine examples of modernist architecture worth preserving – but Golden Mile Complex and People’s Park Complex do not belong in that category.

– See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/premium/forum-letters/story/my-point-20140509#sthash.o4BCuG0m.dpuf

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