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?

About these ads

Iamclarena calling Indians smelly

From ‘Police investigating ‘iamclarena’ for making racist remarks on Twitter’, 11 Jan 2014, article by Lim Yan Liang

The police are investigating a Twitter user for making racist remarks on the social networking portal. The woman, who goes by the handle ‘iamclarena’, had recently posted a series of racist remarks against Indians with her Twitter account.

Responding to queries from The Straits Times, the police confirmed on Friday night that a report had been lodged against the woman for making racially aggravating remarks on social media. The woman, who also goes by the handle ‘Clarena Clanen TzeYi’ on Facebook, is the second person this week to be investigated for posting racist remarks on the Internet.

In 2012, Law Minister K Shanmugam, of all people, received an email from a resident complaining about his Indian neighbours and their ‘Indian sweaty smell and unwashed bodies.’ He found the insult ‘disturbing’ and I assume he didn’t call the police immediately to investigate the matter, nor even call the racist in for a ‘chat’. If ‘Iamclarena’ had sent a direct message to the same minister’s FB page instead of blasting on Twitter, I wonder if he’d do anything about it. I wonder if he even knows what ‘CB’ means.

Screen Shot 2014-01-11 at 10.06.55 PM

In 2005, a Today writer’s daughter was told by her KINDERGARTEN classmates that ‘all Indians are smelly’. When his 3 year old son boarded the school bus, some boys would ‘cover their noses’.  Maybe the kid really had a severe case of BO, but no scientist would want to conduct a study to see if some races emit more unpleasant odours than others, so we’ll never know. There are smelly people of any race, of course, but the Twitterverse is full of people who insist on telling us who the smelliest are. Are we going to investigate them all?

Screen Shot 2014-01-12 at 10

Google’s also doesn’t filter its popular query drop-down list, as you can see below.

Screen Shot 2014-01-11 at 10.22.54 PM

But it’s not just Indian body smells that are the butt of racist jokes, even the aroma of their curry annoys the living hell out of some people, with some attributing what they eat to how they smell. Their hairiness is also a running joke in Russell Peters’ (himself of Indian descent) gigs, while local DJs refrain from mimicking their accent. Some would label you a racist even if you believe in ‘positive’ stereotypes, like Indians are good at computer stuff, running, or hockey. Where then, do we draw the line?

Screen Shot 2014-01-12 at 6.11.57 PM

The accusation of smelliness isn’t confined to the Indian race. PRCs are also mocked for ‘not bathing’ and ‘stinking up the MRT cabin’, but somehow being labelled malodorous is a greater insult for some races than others. You don’t call someone a ‘stinking Jew’, for example. The police are unlikely to track you down if you say PRCs are dirty and smelly, or generalising the Malays as ‘lazy’. But bring up something as emotive as Indian body odour and you’re asking to be probed. Likewise, the terms ‘drunk Indian’ and ‘drunk Caucasian’ also stir different emotions given the context of recent events. Well at least we know Indians ‘don’t rob banks’.

Iamclarena might end up doing jailhouse Macarena for her foul-mouthed tweets, if only for the sheer stupidity of her actions, though I would suggest the police follow up on Shanmugam’s racist, sarong-hating resident as well. Someone mad enough to complain about Indians to an INDIAN LAW minister sounds like a more serious threat to national security to me.

Heather Chua is really a 22 year old man

From ‘Man probed for posing as woman and making racist remarks online’, 11 Jan 2014, article by David Ee, ST

A 22-YEAR-OLD man is under investigation for making racially insensitive remarks on Facebook while posing as a woman with the fictitious name of Heather Chua. The comments targeting Malays last week caused an outcry among netizens, and led to several police reports being lodged.

Yet to be named, he is assisting police with investigations. The “Heather Chua” moniker gained notoriety online from early last year after numerous posts denigrating, among other groups, the poor and the lower-income.

“She” also hit out at Institute of Technical Education graduates, public housing residents and national servicemen. “Heather Chua” claimed to be a 40-year-old Singaporean who studied engineering at the National University of Singapore and attended Raffles Girls’ School and Temasek Junior College. “She” also claimed to live at Sentosa Cove. Photographs of luxury cars “she” purportedly owned were posted on the Facebook account.

…In a Facebook post last night, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he had received complaints about “Heather Chua”, and was glad the Singapore Police Force had established the identity of the man believed to be behind the fictitious profile.

If a hacker claiming to work for the Anonymous legion can get caught by the police, what makes the brainchild behind ‘Heather Chua’ think he could hide behind a fake Facebook profile? The last time someone posed as another person on FB to make disparaging remarks did so under the moniker Rachel Ann Beguia, who insulted Singaporeans as a whole. The post that triggered the hunt for ‘Heather’ was related to Muslim dietary habits, and proved to be as offensive as sharing a link to a Pig on a Kaaba image.

Heather Chua may have started out as a parody account, a fictional persona of an attractive, snobbish and ridiculously wealthy elite, the kind inspired by the likes of  Wee Shu Min.  Citing her home as Sentosa Cove, she followed up her ITE diss by calling HDB dwellers ‘brainless low-lifes’.  It’s hard to imagine that such people exist, or that locals actually LIVE on Sentosa Cove. Last year the same Heather complained about NSmen being slackers and no one seemed to suspect her of being fake despite her familiarity with the army. She also happened to be an admirer of our PM, the very same PM who’s now glad that she’s been nabbed for investigations.

Thankfully, some bloggers were quick to call out Heather as a fraud, as ‘she’ turned out to be. If ‘Heather’ was conceived as an arrogant, racist bitch on the pretentious stage that is FB and her creator may be potentially arrested for sedition, what about characters in plays and movies who spew racist insults, like Adrian Pang’s porn director in Porn Masala? Would screenwriters or producers of racist scripts be called to ‘assist’ the police in investigations?

Racism aside, it’s not the first time someone got flamed for commenting on the educational level or affiliation of the boys they prefer to date. In 2011, relief teacher and blogger Jiang Lai said only ACS boys were worth dating. She was later arrested not for seditious remarks but for attempted suicide, with suggestions of ‘borderline personality disorder’, a neurosis which perhaps all FB users suffer from to various degrees. It’s interesting to see what the real Heather Chua is diagnosed with after being exposed and possibly charged. My bet is on ‘depression’, or at the very least he was ‘going through a difficult time in his life’.

Long Live the Queen banner smacks of colonial hangover

From ‘Long live the Queen archway raises some eyebrows’, 29 Sept 2013, article by Melody Zaccheus, Sunday Times

An archway in Queenstown proclaiming “Long live the Queen” has left some scratching their heads, even as residents gathered last night for a concert to mark the estate’s 60th anniversary.

The arch was put up as part of the celebrations at the estate, which was named after Queen Elizabeth II. Nine of 15 Singaporeans The Sunday Times spoke to described the arch as odd, calling it a “colonial hangover”.

“It’s not appropriate as we are an independent country and no longer under British rule,” said polytechnic course manager Tia Boon Sim, 57, who lived in Queenstown for the first 16 years of her life.

…My Community founder Kwek Li Yong, 24, said the arch – featuring a photo of the Queen and decorated with the Union Jack – is a re-creation of a larger one that was erected in 1953 in North Bridge Road to celebrate the Queen’s coronation. “History teaches us to look back at events. So, we are tracing the estate’s roots back to when the British started it, as Singapore’s first satellite town,” he said.

Named by the British on Sept 27, 1953, Queenstown began as a project by the Singapore Improvement Trust to tackle overcrowding in Chinatown. The trust was later replaced by the Housing Board in 1959. It was in Queenstown that HDB built its first blocks.

God Save this Archway

God Save this Archway

According to the book ‘The Politics of Landscapes in Singapore: Constructions of ‘nation’‘, the ‘Street Naming Advisory Commitee’ was advised in the late sixties to avoid ‘British snob names’ in a bid to sever post-Independence Singapore’s colonial ‘apron strings’.  Areas in Queenstown such as Commonwealth, Queensway and Margaret Drive were advised to change to Malay names. However the Board resisted because Queenstown was ‘well-known throughout the world’ and should be preserved. In the same chapter, it was revealed that Bugis and Tanjong Pagar MRT stations were originally to be named ‘Victoria’ and ‘Maxwell’, after the monarch and a colonial family respectively. Till today, we still have a ‘King Albert Park’, where unlike Queenstown heartland folks, people actually do live like royalty.

Having a ‘colonial hangover’ implies that our past under British royalty was as merry and free-spirited as a drunken orgy, but in today’s context has been extended not just to kowtowing to the Queen and her ilk, but our white overlords in general. I think a more accurate description would be a ‘colonial hang-up’, like the feeling of not wanting to let go of an ex-boyfriend who treated you terribly but you still love to bits. The archway regalia and cheesy title is a bit over-the-top, but this is similar to the way we feted the royal couple when they visited Singapore’s first satellite town last year, short of taking them around in a horse-driven golden carriage and having people dressed as grovelling butlers in tailcoats serving them TWG tea.

The kings and queens today are not those who live in grand palaces and sit on thrones, but those in the realm of K-pop or mavens of technology, and this homage to Queen Elizabeth II by Queenstown residents would strike us as Old World sentimentality that is incompatible with our current aspirations as citizens of a digital age. Celebrating a town’s anniversary like a Royal Jubilee is harmless in my opinion, but it raises the question of whether we, despite being an independent country, have fully shrugged off our colonial past, or have we descendents been somehow possessed by the lingering spirit of the time, that when we see a Caucasian speaking in a posh accent, we are subconsciously compelled by this ghost to either curtsey and shudder with fear, or have the sudden urge to instigate a mutiny on the bounty.

As late as 2007, locals have complained about snooty discriminatory treatment under the euphemism of ‘nursing a colonial hangover’. Bellhops at the Raffles Hotel reportedly allowed a Caucasian family to jump a taxi queue after shouting ‘this one for the ang mohs!’. Sumiko Tan asked if she was guilty of suffering from the same syndrome, complaining of ang mohs ‘lording over Singaporeans’ after a traffic scuffle. To some, a colonial hangover simply means ‘Westernisation’, like having weird English names even if you’re ethnic Chinese. A more specific syndrome related to this submissiveness is the ‘Pinkerton Syndrome’, which refers to Singaporean women preferring white men over locals. A case of ‘bigger’ meaning ‘better’, perhaps. These days, ‘Pinkerton’ and ‘colonial hangover’ seem to be used interchangeably and loosely, only because no one wants to utter words like ‘racism’ or ‘slavery’. (Interestingly, the name of Prince William’s private secretary is Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton)

However, we have our white colonial masters to thank for our architecture and tourist icons , from the grand Fullerton Hotel to Empress Place and Fort Canning, though these were built with the hands, blood, sweat and tears of our very own forefathers. We indulge in a spot of afternoon tea in tiffin rooms, the ‘quintessential colonial pastime’, though the key ingredient behind ‘high tea’ has its origins in another ex-colony, India. One man’s ‘nostalgia’ is another’s ‘colonial hangover’, depending on your gut reaction to the image below, courtesy of Raffles Hotel, the pinnacle of colonial luxury that would make any Old-World plantation owner feel right at home. Without the whips of course.

A fling with Singapore sling

An article in the Hindu Times even referred to our country as a city-state ‘basking in its colonial hangover’. If that’s the case, then we don’t need a cure for it, do we? We have the Singapore Flyer mimic of the one in London, why not build the next casino like Big Ben then? Who knows, Singapore may even be more ‘British’ than London itself in 20 years. We even retained some of the crappy laws which our ex rulers have ditched a long time ago. Some people have tasted scones before even knowing the existence of ang ku kuehs.

You could even accuse me of nursing a ‘colonial hangover’ just because I love Fish and Chips, listen to music from British bands, support Manchester United instead of Home United, or watch Monty Python skits. In its milder form, I would be referred to as a ‘banana’ or ‘jiak kantang’. Yet, I haven’t heard of anyone being accused of ‘Occupation hangover’ if they study Japanese as a third language or are members of Sushi Tei. In 2001, a Today reader complained about our ‘fixation with our British-colonial past’ and imperialism’s ‘dark power’ over the minds of the people, just because Bridget Jones Diary seemed to be more popular than Jurassic Park. Bollocks, really.

Demon-cratic Singapore creator arrested for sedition

From ‘Cartoonist arrested over complaint’, 24 April 2013, article by Feng Zengkun, ST

SINGAPOREAN cartoonist Leslie Chew, 37, was arrested last Friday by the police after a complaint was filed against him about one of his cartoons, his lawyer said yesterday. Mr Choo Zheng Xi, who is with law firm Peter Low LLC, said Mr Chew was held over the weekend and released on Sunday night after posting bail of $10,000. He will have to report to the police again on April 30.

…Mr Chew draws the cartoon strip, Demon-cratic Singapore, which is posted regularly on Facebook. According to a description on the strip’s Facebook page, it is “a totally fictional comic with entirely fictional characters based on wholly fictional events in a fictional country“.

Mr Choo said Mr Chew is being investigated for alleged sedition, in relation to a cartoon posted on March 27 regarding the Malay population. He added that Mr Chew was also questioned about a second cartoon which was not included in the complaint.

This was posted on Dec 14 last year, and was the subject of a letter sent by the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) to Mr Chew three days later, said Mr Choo. He said that in the letter, the AGC said the cartoon “scandalises our Courts through allegations and imputations that are scurrilous and false”. He added the cartoonist had not yet been charged.

Late last night, a cartoon depicting Mr Chew’s questioning by the police – whom he described as “very professional” – was uploaded on the Facebook page. Last night, the police said they were looking into the matter.

Chew’s cartoon was not discriminatory against Malays, but referred to the government of ‘Demon-cratic Singapore’ as a racist one. The strip that ‘scandalises’ the courts depicts a character called ‘Pinky’ Loong kicking a High Court Judge out of his office and also involves a cheating politician not so subtly named ‘Michael Phucker’. Other uncannily familiar characters in the Demon-cratic Universe include $8 KHAWTeo CHEE HONG, HAIRY Lee, THORNY Tan and Ho JINX. Incidentally, the evil party in Chew’s story is called ‘Party against People’. The entire cast sounds inspired by nicknames straight out of an EDMW or Sammyboy forum thread conceived by 13-year olds. Not exactly Mad Magazine material, I suppose.

Some authors have the nerve to do away with the ‘parallel universe’ angle and mock the PAP straight up. In 1971, 22 year old cartoonist Morgan Chua drew a cartoon of LKY riding a tank threatening to crush a baby symbolising the paper he worked for, the Singapore Herald. LKY’s also a favorite target of foreign humorists;  You can only purchase ‘Harry Lee Kuan Yew, A Pictorial Account of his Life and Times‘ online, a collection of lampoons by Rodney King, an Australian who worked here for more than a decade. In this book the ‘lovable old twerp’ ‘gets a good hand-bagging from Maggie Thatcher’ and ‘falls down a rubbish chute’. It would have been funnier if his caricature of LKY didn’t resemble the stereotype of a slant-eyed Asian.

You can, however, publish a book full of toon politicians here if you’re careful enough. Greg Nonis gave us ‘Hello Chok Tong, Goodbye Kuan Yew’ in 1991. Today, if you’re lucky, the authorities will tolerate your satire if you bypass the censors and post comics on your own blog or Facebook, provided you cover yourself with the appropriate disclaimers and give your characters names that would trigger a knowing smirk in your reader but not an angry lawyer’s letter. My Sketch Times features a DR ‘WOLF WU‘ who’s ‘helping to change the way traffic procedures are performed’. S’pore Says posted a cartoon of a ‘Mr Wong’ in a Monkey King head vice getting a headache when the mantra ‘Mas Selamat’ is chanted. The Cartoon Press, which I must say boasts some of the best pencilwork I’ve seen so far, has a turkey with what looks very much like Lim Swee Say’s head.  Some of this stuff is actually funnier than Demon-cratic Singapore, which has ‘episodes’ with too much text and one too many cringingly lame name-puns.

Anyway here’s a random picture of our Prime Minister in a pink shirt. Hmm..I wonder if anyone has made a caricature of this already.

 

Workers’ Party flooded with Chinese

From ‘Workers’ Party lacks minority representation’, 28 Jan 2013, ST Forum

(Paul Antony Fernandez):…As a Punggol East resident, I have reservations about whether the decision was the right one – during 10 days of campaigning, I did not see a Malay, Indian or anyone from a minority race among the WP members. I had thought that perhaps such members could not be around due to their work commitments, but at the WP’s victory parade yesterday, there was still no one from a minority race among their number.

The WP was formed primarily to address the concerns of workers across the board, especially low-wage workers. After General Election 2011, I realised that the WP was flooded with Chinese members. During the campaigning, I asked Ms Lee about the representation of the minorities in the WP, but did not get an answer.

Has WP leader Low Thia Khiang forgotten our national pledge where we pledged equality regardless of race or creed?

Just truckin'

Just truckin’

You’d have to worry for the electoral process if you have people like Fernandez here basing their vote on how multi-racial a party is rather than whether their candidate could do her job well. Since the exit of Michael Palmer, the PAP too has been lacking in minority race representation, that of the EURASIAN (Other than Christopher De Souza). Why isn’t Fernandez chiding the PAP for not fielding a Eurasian candidate as a one-for-one replacement instead of a Chinese colorectal surgeon? What, then, would be Fernandez’s ideal quota of minority race in any party, 1 minority for every 3 Chinese? Would a high-ranking Malay or Indian who calls the shots in a predominantly Chinese party be considered adequate ‘representation’? What did Fernandez have to say about the 4 TANS in the last Presidential election? Was that election, like the recent WP Punggol campaign, erm, RACIST too?

It’s easier for the ruling party having the strength and numbers to make their team as diverse as possible. The GRC system also practically ensures that the PAP is sufficiently multiracial, nevermind its sneaker motives. In 1988, Ling How Doong and Chiam See Tong from the SDP were challenged by Goh Chok Tong on how the party could claim to be multi-racial when they in fact fielded an all-Chinese team for the 1984 GE.  Goh then suggested that such a selection could lead to an ‘all-Chinese Parliament’. Chiam was also against the ‘Team MP’ concept which was ‘racialist’ and challenged the ability of minority races to get into politics ‘by their own merit’. At the time, it was assumed that a Chinese voter was more likely to support a Chinese candidate, more so if the latter spoke their dialect. Fernandez’s concern about racial equality is a relic of an era when people tended to vote emotionally and communally, rather than as the educated, savvy, mature voter who thinks of his representative as a SINGAPOREAN first rather than a Chinese/Malay/Indian. In fact even after a decade (2008) since the SDP race scuffle, the Prime Minister himself didn’t think the country was ready for a non-Chinese Leader.

Opposition parties do not have the luxury to be multi-racial and multi-gender just for the sake of it, when they really need the best possible candidates regardless of race or sex from a limited pool to challenge the PAP. In spite of its small number, the executive council of WP already has its fair share of (two) Malays and (one) Indian, which makes Fernandez’s snap judgement about WP’s make-up rather petty and unfair considering the overall demographics of Singapore. With such strong preconceptions about race in politics, one is prone to selectively zooming in on images of Chinese faces and ignoring the few seconds worth of ‘minority representation’. The deception would be magnified if Fernandez wasn’t in fact following the parade truck on the ground from start to finish (Pritam Singh and Faisal Manap were on board), but watching it on TV. It’s uncertain if he was paying any attention to WP’s activities since the GE 2011, or was just basing his conclusions of WP ‘Sinocentricity’ on the blue-collar vibe of the typical ‘Huat’-hooting WP audience.

And I don’t remember there being a single mention of the word CREED in our Pledge. Maybe Fernandez imagined it, like how he imagined the ‘flood’ of Chinese faces in WP.

Daniel Ong calling neighbour Sivalin-ganam style

From ‘He made fun of my name’, 26 Oct 2012, article by Foo Jie Ying, TNP

A dispute between neighbours over renovation noise led to one of them making a police report against the other, claiming that the latter had made fun of his name. In the report made on Oct 16, he said: “By making fun and changing my family surname, he is insulting and degrading the Indian culture.”

In an interview with The New Paper On Tuesday evening, Mr Sivalingam Narayanasamy, 55, said: “What he has done is to change my surname.” The other party in the dispute is former radio deejay Daniel Ong, 36, who is now known as a celebrity cupcake-shop owner with his wife, Miss Singapore-Universe 2001 Jaime Teo.

Mr Sivalingam showed TNP a letter purportedly written by Mr Ong to him, in which Mr Ong allegedly made fun of his name. In the letter, Mr Ong referred to Mr Sivalingam as “Sivalin-ganamstyle” and added, “That’s my new nickname for you… cool, huh?”

Mr Ong addressed this on his Facebook page, saying: “He claims I insulted him coz I addressed him as Sivalingam num-style in my last letter… but I told him that I didn’t mean that and it’s the coolest thing around now.”

If you read the contents of Daniel Ong’s letter for yourself, you’ll find it full of sarcastic insults, spite, fake LOLS and general meanness. From the way how this neighbourly spat has been overblown, it’s obvious that Sivalingam’s racist accusation is a pretext for filing against Ong’s nastiness and intolerance over a baby-tormenting and ‘old-lady murdering’ renovation project. As with his grudge against SPH, the ex-DJ has made his Facebook page his personal diary and broadcaster now that he’s gone from radio. Regardless of who’s at fault here,  this is really an exaggerated episode of neighbours thrashing it out over one ugly incident after another, culminating in a sensational turf war with a typical but ultimately futile standoff involving the police. I wonder what will become of these two once it’s Christmas.

It’s like two boys fighting in the playground and one threatening with his daddy because the other called him names and he had no comeback. The natural tendency in such testosterone-charged scuffles is for the one picked on to retort with a creative insult of his own, until both get tired of this one-upping nonsense and walk away. At least these two grown ups are civil enough not to bring their Mamas into it or roll around in the mud throwing punches. Conflicts of this sort are inevitable, no matter how we try to inculcate a ‘give and take’ culture, when in fact we’re mostly looking after our own interests and ‘community’ means running into that comfort zone and pacifier called Facebook where your ‘friends’ are obliged to support you all the way even if you’re acting like a child who just got his rattle nicked by a bully.

When it comes to a war of words, it’s unlikely that Sivalingam would get the upper hand over a cupcake king with the gift of the gab (Daniel even refers to himself as ‘FUNNY GUY” on his Twitter page), hence to counter his weakness in petty insult-trading, the big guns have to be summoned on a hot-potato issue (racism) just to show that he means business. I’m not even sure if this guy knows what Gangnam Style is, which may explain why he would consider the name-mashing a childish insult, maybe the equivalent of the Chinese ‘Tan Ah Kow’.  He does cut an imposing figure however, like a superintendent in the force, or someone who runs a butchery franchise and boxes hunks of meat in his spare time.  Daniel Ong (who once played ‘Mr Kiasee’ in the Mr Kiasu sitcom) will get his cupcakes SQUASHED if put in a ring with this bull of a man.

Don’t call him Gangnam

What’s worrying, and yet strangely assuring at the same time, is why our police EVEN BOTHER with such things (Assuring because it means our cops have nothing much to do). Well I suppose if they’re forced to investigate teachers who cut the hair of students without permission, this fight between an angry celebrity and his angry neighbour must seem as exciting as taking down rival triads in comparison. Gangs of Mei Hwan Drive perhaps. Still, this is what happens if you have public endorsement of the over-the-top censuring of anything mocking a minority race. You give people excuses to point fingers at the one thing that will get your enemies in trouble, when you’re really pissed off with them because they embarrassed you, not because they humiliated your race, your family, your ancestry and your gods.

Siva claims discrimination when Daniel Ong mashes up his surname with Gangnam style, while the latter explains the pun away as a reference to his ‘threatening’ stance with arms akimbo. Neither argument makes sense. I can’t imagine an aggressor doing this in a mano-a-mano confrontation, unless he’s trying to subdue you with laughter.

Please don’t hurt me. I’ll do anything

I suspect it’s harmless wordplay more than anything else, though these days dropping sly racial references is like tossing firecrackers on a minefield. Siva doesn’t have a case because Gangnam itself has already taken Indians by storm, and just about anyone with an Internet connection and doesn’t understand a single word of Korean.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 314 other followers