More spouses straying within 5 years of marriage

From ‘Rise in couples who split within five years’, 16 Feb 2014, article by Janice Tai, Sunday Times

The first five years of marriage are proving a challenge for more Singapore couples – that is when partners stray, and a rising number of marriages break down. A study on straying couples by Touch Family Services found that slightly more than half the 164 respondents polled had affairs within five years of marriage. For one in three, the affairs happened in the first two years of married life.

…The Touch study, done over the past two years, invited individuals who had unfaithful spouses to complete questionnaires online. Close to 1,000 people responded, but only 164 met the criteria of having been married and of having an unfaithful spouse. The researchers found that nine in 10 of the troubled marriages involved dual-income couples and one in three cheating spouses earned more than $5,000 a month.

…Counsellors point to several reasons the crisis point of the modern marriage seemed to be arriving sooner, and especially among better-off working professionals. They say there is a diminishing social stigma attached to divorce and some couples are more willing to give up on a marriage in trouble.

…As to why adultery seems more prevalent among better-off couples, he (Dr Terence Yow, Reach Family Service director) said overseas studies have also established that people with a higher socio-economic status have a higher risk or propensity for infidelity. They tend to be more stressed, have the means to maintain an extramarital affair, have a bigger social network and are more attractive to others.

In a separate CNA report of the same study, 6 out of 10 people surveyed would remain married despite having a spouse cheat on them. CNA also revealed that Touch Family Services is an affiliate of Touch Community Services, whose chairman is renown as a staunch opponent of the ‘looming threat’ to family that is homosexuality. His name? Lawrence Khong.

Knowing who’s in charge behind Touch, it’s only natural to scrutinise this study for selection bias. A surprisingly high number of those 164 polled were spouses who were earning good money, a finding milked by the investigators to suggest that the higher your income, the more likely you’d stray. This simplistic assumption correlates status with sex but ignores other factors that contribute to infidelity. No details were given on how the researchers defined ‘unfaithful’ and how the subjects and investigators verified that cheating was even real, or whether they were delusional. Did the spouse go out on a ‘date’ alone? Did the subject stumble upon a naughty Whatsapp message? Did the spouse surf porn behind her back? Were ‘in-depth’ interviews conducted such as those in a 2012 study which concluded that half of about 500 married couples ‘considered’ divorce?

I’d be interested in the demographics of those polled, namely their race and religious inclination and whether it was representative of the general population. Are people who respond to Touch initiatives more likely to be Christian than Muslims, Buddhists or Hindus? Or the fact that they were looking for resources or help from the Touch website before even participating in the poll suggests that they’re already motivated to salvage the marriage (hence the 6/10 who want to remain married).  Given the complexity and diversity in attitudes towards marriage across cultures and social class, the Touch results appear skewed towards those ‘well-off’ and puts high income earners under an unnecessary spotlight. As for keeping marriage alive, whatever motivations you have in saving it may also depend on what your religion says about it, rich or poor.

The jury is still out on what causes spikes in early cheating and ultimately divorces given recent mixed results and anecdotes from elsewhere. One report last year cited wedding expenses as a reason for Muslim couples splitting. Another concluded that OLDER couples above 45 are breaking up because parents ‘don’t know what to do with each other’ once the children move out. In 2011, the top factors were ‘unreasonable behaviour’, ‘infidelity’ or ‘domestic violence’ depending on whether it’s a civil or Muslim marriage.  There’s also the issue of parenting troubles, dealing with crazy in-laws and in some cases, taking offence toward one’s cooking. Other counsellors have encountered relationships strained over simple household chores. Why not blame the rise of social media, online dating/chat apps, and sexting too?.

In short, a broken marriage can’t be explained by income alone without adjusting for all the little petty things unique to each couple that pave the way to destruction. Experts also talk of this ‘diminishing social stigma’ but don’t have any data to back up what appears to be a ‘still-hot divorcee’ theory. Even if the stigma is diminished, it doesn’t mean more people are taking divorce lightly. Divorce is emotionally and financially taxing, and the possibility of being back ‘on the market’ instead of branded as ‘used goods’ may not be worth the cost, time and effort of killing a marriage especially one with children involved. Unless you’re ‘born again single’ Allan Wu, of course.

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NS as a 2 year character enrichment programme

From various letters, 15 Oct 2013, ST Forum

(Paul Sim Ruiqi): I READ the results of the Institute of Policy Studies survey on public perceptions of national service with much caution (“Poll reveals changing perceptions of NS”; last Wednesday) – in particular, the finding that more people viewed NS as a way to instil discipline and values among the young than as a pillar of national defence.

NS should not be seen as a two-year enrichment or character-development programme as much as it is an individual’s contribution to the nation. There is an undue emphasis on the transformation of boys into men, as portrayed by recent movies and television series.

(Gerard Ong):…We must never forget that we train our national servicemen to fight to win – nothing less.

…When I was called up for NS, many of those in my cohort and I were convinced that we were going to be trained to be fighting soldiers. We understood that the discipline and values that came with our training were incidental and part and parcel of military life. We wanted to be out in the field, learning how to handle our weapons, field craft, operational procedures, shooting and unarmed combat.

We came in wanting to be fighters, not disciplined team players, which we had already learnt how to be by playing team sports or joining school uniformed groups. The survey findings should be examined closely by our leaders and Ministry of Defence, as the public’s perception of NS as primarily an instiller of discipline and values is rather disturbing.

There was a scene in the Ah Boys to Men 2 movie where the main cast applied their military skills to enact revenge on a couple by bombing their car with shit. A comedy played for laughs, some viewers thought Jack Neo’s movie trivialised NS, calling it sexist, misogynist and bad for SAF overall. By the end of the movie, we never know if the boys are capable of killing the enemy, but are constantly bombarded with the message that NS is great for life-skills, family bonding and ‘camaraderie’. There is, however, no evidence that men emerge from NS as better friends, husbands, employees or leaders, and the social benefit of NS, grossly exaggerated in pop culture, has turned from a by-product of regimentation and suffering to a convenient justification for having NS in the first place.

The army itself is guilty of plugging the ‘character building’ angle. Being in uniform would supposedly make you more attractive to women. It also makes you think of your father as an embattled hero and role model. Unlike the ads for the Air Force which emphasise protection of the motherland, the Army insists on humanising NS because the original bloody intent of conscription i.e killing people is a bitter pill to swallow. Especially if you’re a worried parent who’ve seen one too many boys die for nothing.

The researcher who led the poll, Dr Leong Chang Hoong, revealed to the media that only 1 in 10 women would serve NS, and then followed up to say ‘even simple gestures from the female population, such as ORGANISING LUNCH for men training in the field, would make a “significant psychological impact”. Is it any wonder Singaporean women would decline the offer to don the uniform and hang out with the boys, only to be summoned to make Ayam brand tuna sandwiches or cook instant noodles in mess tins for them? I doubt anyone would argue that NS for girls would make them better wives or mothers without receiving a nomination for AWARE’s Alamak Awards. Why stop at green eyeshadow? How about distributing a recipe booklet called ‘Outfield BBQ for Heroic Boys in Green’ or something.

I’m not sure if the survey addressed the ‘fighting soldier’ argument as to how many of our men are actually battle-ready and willing to die for the country, that includes the writers above who support the ‘pillar of national defence’ rationale. The reality is many men spend their NS in filler, ‘supportive’ roles like ‘storemen’ or logistics supervisors, and are likely to pass out of it without a single day of field camp, without a sense of undying self-sacrificing purpose that anyone who puts on that uniform is supposed to have. Men without a single meaningful memory outside of staying in the bunk and waiting for orders to perform odd jobs.  At the other extreme, some have compared NS to SLAVERY, whereby minions are drilled in unarmed combat and how to stab dummies with a bayonet. Sort of like gladiators, perhaps. And then there is this guy, who has clearly applied aggression, the vital force of a winning army, in real life. In a LIBRARY. Shudder in fear, enemies!

Despite gaining all the ‘discipline’ and ‘values’ over 2 years, your boss may still quietly frown on your frequent call-ups, or you may miss out on crucial projects that could have earned you a promotion. Some can do without the ‘enrichment’ altogether by getting themselves downgraded, to the extent of celebrating it in public. How ironic that a ‘chow keng’ becomes a millionaire even before you manage to land your first job because you’re too busy defending the nation. Well, at least you still have your lifelong friends and an arsenal of explosive swear words, eh?

Our boys aren’t born Vikings, nor do they pass out of BMT mass chorusing ‘We will still be Friends Forever’ in Vitamin C’s hit ‘Graduation’. Personally I wouldn’t call NS a total waste of time, but I wouldn’t make a big-deal macho fantasy out of it either. The ST editor referred to our defence strategy as that of a ‘poison shrimp’ (NS is no glorified boot camp, 12 Oct 2013, ST) which deters anyone from stepping on it despite our miserable size. It’s dangerously unrealistic to think that we’re tiger prawns instead.

Kurt Tay getting C-cup breast implants

From ‘Singaporean man goes to Thailand for surgery to get C cup chest’, 23 May 2013, article by Foo Jie Ying, Naqiyah Shapudin, TNP

…Security guard Kurt Tay, 27, has money and wanted something to boost his confidence – breasts. Not a fake chest to bypass the exercise route, but breasts as in mammary glands. C cup, about the size of a grapefruit, no less.

…He said he chose to go to Bangkok instead of doing the operation here as it is much cheaper to do it overseas. He said that a breast implant surgery in a local Government-run hospital would cost him about $10,000, while doing it at a private hospital would set him back a whopping $16,000.

In contrast, breast implant surgery in Thailand costs an average of $4,000 to $5,000, he said. The silicone breast implants, which were used on him, brought him from a flat chest to a C cup.

…The plastic surgeon who runs JJ Chua Rejuvenative Cosmetic and Laser Surgery added: “A sex change would comprise the chest area as well as the private parts. I only want to assist patients when I know it will help them.

“If you have a female upper body, then you must have a female lower body too, right?

“In my opinion, his assessment of himself is wrong, there’s no halfway with this kind of thing.”

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If it’s one thing that both sexes are not happy about when it comes to the upper body, it’s having flat chests. Men no longer obsess about penis size like they do about having a glorious torso built like Captain America.

Moobs. Me like.

Whether it’s brands like Abercrombie and Fitch or James Bond, the archetype of a rippin’, upper body sculpted to warrior perfection has pervaded the male perception of the ideal body. Pectoral implants are no longer scoffed at, nor reserved only for males with a congenital condition known as ‘pectus excavatum’ which gives one a sunken chest appearance. It also sounds like a naughty spell Harry Potter would cast on Ron Weasly in the shower as an April Fool’s joke.

When it comes to breasts, men may be even more fussy than women about size. Too flat, and you worry about getting beaten up at the playground. Too round and saggy, and you can’t go for a swim without parents urging you to cover up with a bikini because you’re scaring the children. ‘Moobs’ are no laughing matter when you have gynecomastia though. Most fat guys are game to display their bellies, but would hesitate to showcase a wobby pair of man-tits. After all, a rotund stomach is traditionally a sign of prosperity, while moobs are impropriety which in the past would have landed you a contract with a travelling freakshow circus with the bearded lady or the Siamese twin. The difference between Kurt and the rest of us is that he longs for a pair big and bouncy enough to fit a bra with, while we would be happy just to have one sturdy enough to stop a speeding bullet. You’re free to Youtube Kurt showing off his newly found assets, though you’re likely to stop watching a minute into the video not because of his bizarre before-and-after shots, but because of his broken English. He sure has a lot to ‘get off his chest’, this Kurt fella.

Some years back, a ‘less dashing’ Kurt ‘Nong Nong Ago’ Tay Foo Wei broke into the scene as comic relief in Singapore Idol (Ironically he may have had bigger breasts then compared to just before the op). Just look what you’ve done to contestant self-esteem, Idol judges. Thank God we’ve stopped this Idol nonsense, otherwise we’d have superstar wannabes checking into either psychiatric wards post-rejection, or flying off to Thailand to turn themselves into Pamela Anderson. Kurt still considers himself a Handsome, Charming, Dashing, BUSTY superstar till this day, and has even launched a Mandarin single and music video. I won’t be surprised that he had tried for the Final 1 auditions but got booted out, either because he’s not good enough, or NOT weird enough to qualify.

Both Kurt and men with meek chests want the same thing: Confidence. And this is one man who has ample cupfuls of it, though it may have crossed over into some narcissistic, body dysmorphic, boob-fetish disorder. If our local doctors don’t accept clients who do things ‘halfway’ in fear of psychological damage, there’s nothing stopping people from pursuing their body modification dreams elsewhere, at a cheaper rate too, whether it’s having gigantic breasts, buttocks or an extra one of each. Boobs on a man are not so extreme as compared to having vampire fangs, split tongues or inserting protruding objects in your face or limbs to make you look like a horned lizard. I would think most women would rather make out with a man with boobs than a guy with a bagel jutting out of his head.

Kurt may well be an unwitting crusader against gender stereotypes with his breast augmentation, like “If a man wants to feel sexy by having big boobs like a woman,  WHY NOT?”. Women who strap their breasts down or play with strap-on dildos can probably relate. He may also be sending a message to all fat men to EMBRACE the gift of moobs, to love their bodies and the ‘woman’ in them instead of wasting their money on ‘body sculpting’. After all, macho men like Robert De Niro breastfed a baby in the film Meet the Fockers, Arnie got pregnant in ‘Junior’ and our local actors cross-dress even on National Day. Some men tape grapefruit to their chests to feel good, Kurt Tay had silicone pumped into his. I wonder if the Noose team, in light of the declining quality of their skits, are watching Kurt keenly as we speak.

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Singaporean girls getting 3/10 for fashion sense

From ‘Singapore women either wear too little or too much make-up: TV host Pauline Lan’, 26 April 2013, article by Jan Lee, ST

When Taiwanese TV host Pauline Lan was in town on Friday to launch the Singaporean version of her popular Taiwanese fashion and beauty show Lady First, she was not shy to blast the local women for fashion boo-boos. “A lot of Singaporean girls have either too little or too much make up on, it’s often not suited for the occasion,” she says.

Another mistake she thinks Singaporean girls make is wearing the wrong lingerie and underwear for different outfits.

Out of 10 marks for fashion sense, she gives local girls a mere three. Then she turns her attention to the Singapore men, saying it is their fault that the women do not try harder. Pointing out the men’s general sloppiness, she says: “Singaporean men don’t give Singaporean women the urge to dress up!”

If a local fashion guru slams us for dressing sloppily, we’d probably accept the charge. A foreigner, on the other hand, without an intimate understanding of our crazy weather, is less qualified to judge. But more importantly, an outsider scouting the streets for fashion boo-boos can’t be sure that they’re catching badly dressed SINGAPOREANS or other foreigners since there’s so many of the latter about. It’s also a misconception that women here dress up to impress fellow Singaporean men, whether they’re in flip-flops and shorts or suit and tie. Women dress up to impress OTHER women.  So, bros, go easy on the shoeshine and ties. The babe in the skimpy hot pants is more interested in what your girlfriend thinks than you.

But what’s creepy is fashionistas checking out whether your undergarments match your outfit. Does Pauline Lan have X-ray vision or go around peeking down ladies’ blouses? Isn’t underwear NOT meant to be seen at all? Or do some girls expose themselves intentionally like so:

Brazen lack of dress sense

Lan isn’t the first foreign image guru to remind us that we’re horrid dressers. Television personality Jeannie Mai refers to flip-flops as FLIP-NOTS, and endorses ‘wearapy’, which basically means to dress ‘emotionally’, advocating the use of ‘energetic’ and ‘bold’ colours to lift your mood or confidence. Seems psychologically sound, though I’m less convinced by wearing purple at a public speaking event to ‘convey ROYALTY’ unless you’re giving a tribute to the Joker at a Batman Comics Convention. Or you’re just Groovy, Baby!

Good for public speaking

In 2012, French designer Roland Mouret was shocked by the ‘fashion disasters’ in his hotel, especially sloppy men with their ‘wrong shorts and flip flops’ and suggested that there should be a law against awful dressing in swanky places.  He must have avoided hawker centres like the plague. Shame. In 1994, image consultant Robert Pante said most Singaporeans wear clothes that ‘even burglars would not steal’ (‘Most Singaporeans dress badly, says image guru’, 14 Oct 1994, ST). But burglars generally DON’T steal clothes at all; the only people who do so are those with a panty or school uniform fetish.

Singaporean women know better than to take Pauline’s abysmal rating seriously. After all, this is a woman who wears a beaver’s dam on her head.

Grow up, Ugly Affluent Westernised Singaporeans

From ‘Time for the Ugly Singaporean to grow up’, 9 April 2013, ST Forum

(Dr George Wong Seow Hoon): IN VIEW of the increasing incidents of abusive behaviour towards health-care workers…it is time to examine why economic progress has brought with it the emergence of the “Ugly Singaporean”. Part of the reason is that many of our children are now brought up by maids, and they lack the strong cultural milieu to cultivate codes of good conduct.

Once they grow up, they treat nurses the way they treat their maids – because they know of no other way. When I was growing up, I was immersed in the culture and traditions of my grandparents, who made me read San Zhi Jing (Three-Character Classic), which taught Confucian morality.

My uncles and aunts told me stories from the Chinese classics of great men and heroes with outstanding conduct. These have influenced my thinking and conduct in later life. Now, some affluent, Westernised Singaporeans throw litter, abuse nurses and are road bullies.

…It is time for Singaporeans to grow up.

It’s been a while since I’ve heard anyone espouse ‘Asian values’, which typically encompasses concepts of hard work, compassion, humility and filial piety, though such forms of social behaviour are certainly not unique to the Asian society. China, in particular, the birthplace of San Zhi Jing, is among the worst culprits of pollution and global warming in the world, and the inconsiderate act of littering and destroying the planet has nothing to do with the fact that you’re a Confucian scholar, a ‘Westernised’ tycoon, or a homeless bum who poops on the streets.

Blaming the West as the Devil was regular rhetoric for MPs. In 1971, Inche Ghazali urged men to ‘point out gently and tactfully how ridiculous’ their womenfolk look wearing ‘indecent’ fashions of the West. The appearance of ‘Centrepoint kids’ in the 80s prompted Tang Guan Seng to blame ‘decadent Western fads’ for the erosion of our G-rated, homely values. He was also strongly against the ‘Western’ practice of addressing parents by their names, dumping the aged in retirement homes, and probably thinks the ‘Western’ tie as office attire is like wearing Satan’s noose around your neck.

Some male chauvinist pigs also like their partners to be like Samsui women, subservient, meek and not complaining and nagging too much which is a result of being ‘contaminated’ by the decadent West. Thanks to ‘Western influences’, our women have become opinionated, assertive and don’t ever want to treat us guys to a hot home-cooked meal and foot scrub after work anymore. Besides, I’m not sure if ancient China was the ideal pinnacle of Confucian ethics and selfless, epic heroics as it’s lauded to be. At least that’s not what Sex and Zen tells me.

There’s nothing morally superior about ‘Asian values’ as it’s a fallacy to blame Western affluence for all our ‘social ills’, be it teen pregnancy, homosexuality, premarital sex, Playboy magazine or Glee. There are, in fact, downsides to exaggerating your Confucian values, like ‘presentee-ism’, the loss of productivity that results when you’re obliged to report for work even when you’re sick.  The complainant telling Singaporeans to ‘GROW UP’ reeks of the stifling authoritarian hectoring of the stern, party-pooping patriarch who shuns Gangnam Style, skimpy bikinis and shrinking hemlines because he thinks these have all the ‘decadent’ hallmarks of cult-like Western glamour and spiralling moral decay.

You don’t have to be rich and English-speaking to be a total bastard of a customer, nor do you need to mediate under a bamboo tree and be handy with a calligraphy brush to be a responsible, civilised human being, regardless of which side of the globe you’re from. So here’s an adorable clip of an ang mo kid reciting San Zhi Jing. To a ‘Western-influenced’ bloke like me, it’s as impressive, yet meaningless, as memorising pi to 100 decimal places.

Ng Boon Gay’s wife making the deepest form of self-sacrifice

From ‘Strong spouses in their own way’, 1 Feb 2013 and ‘When men stray, women should not feel that they are expected to stay’, 30 Jan 2013, Voices, Today

(Donovan Chee Kwok Hoe):…I do not condone cheating. When I see pictures of Ng Boon Gay’s missus holding his hand, I would never assume that she has forgiven him. But whether she is holding his hand because of the need to maintain a public facade or otherwise is not for us to judge or assume. That would be venturing into dangerous territory.

What I see, instead, is her willingness to support her husband through his darkest days. She has made the deepest form of self-sacrifice and should be applauded.

(Magdalene Sim Jia Ling):…In my view, a brave woman is someone strong enough to walk away as and when it is necessary to do so, someone who can stand up for what is right and wrong in her life, including standing up against her husband’s infidelities.

It is not that women should never forgive their unfaithful husbands, but it is for them, in their own circumstances and capacities, to decide. There should never be an expectation on them that staying with their husbands or publicly supporting them through scandals is the mark of a smart woman, or worse, a loving wife who is woman enough to stand by her marriage.

She stands by her man

Yap Yen Yen once told reporters that she ‘continues to believe in her husband, and that her love for him hasn’t wavered’. Throughout the trial, she has been portrayed by the media as the stoic, silent victim. Only time will tell if this display of bewildering affection is really a ‘public facade’ to garner sympathy, or a genuine show of solidarity and forgiveness. The latter, of course, is a virtue that’s been enshrined in all major religions and moral ethics, and between filing for immediate divorce and sticking by her man, it’s often the latter gesture that casts the victim in the glowing light of the ‘loving, magnanimous wife’ persona. It also helps that men are always seen as scheming bastards and are automatically thrust with the blame whenever they stray, regardless of how their wives have treated them previously.

The ‘suffering wife rising from the flames like a phoenix’ is a phenomenon that is publicly celebrated; the classic example of Hilary Clinton giving president husband Bill a second chance comes to mind. An ST journalist in Singapolitics called 2012 the year of the STRONG WOMAN, citing examples such as Diane Palmer and Howard Shaw’s model wife Jessie Xue. Chua Mui Hoong, Opinion editor, lauds Yap as the BRAVEST WOMAN in the news last year. Nobody knows anything about these women other than their apparent willingness to accept their husbands’ philandering nonsense and simply move on. They have become a fighting symbol of womanhood and little else. No one said anything worth applauding about Cecilia Sue’s husband, or Laura Ong’s boyfriend/husband, who are also victims in their own right. Nobody’s going to call a man a BRAVE SOUL for accepting a wife who sleeps around. If a woman keeps quiet about the affair, she’s grieving or struggling to keep the marriage afloat. If a man keeps silent, he’s plotting revenge and imagining running the lover through with a chainsaw.

Still a Great romance

A woman may be viewed as ‘strong’ whether she forgives her husband or packs her bags and leaves. Men, on the other hand, may be described as ‘strong’ in the same emotional sense if they can overcome immense grief like from the death of a loved one, but if they stand by a cheating wife, they are cast as weak cuckolds and not worth swooning over at all, unless they use it to their advantage as sob-story pick-up bait in their quest for one-night stands at the club. For all you know a woman’s sweet acts in public are secretly  out of personal repentance or even relief, if she herself has also been guilty of fooling around with other men.  Yap Yen Yen isn’t a heroine; she’s just a woman coping with her husband’s and her own shame her way, caught in the headlights by a public yearning for a story to tell and for her to be made a shining example for women in similar situations everywhere, even if Mother Theresa standards of forgiveness do not necessarily guarantee a lasting marriage.

Society should protect the right to wear spaghetti tops and shorts

From ‘Shanmugam stresses case for death penalty’, 31 Dec 2012, article by Poon Chian Hui, ST

MINISTER for Law and Foreign Affairs K. Shanmugam has weighed in on the death of the Indian woman who died last Saturday after a brutal attack by six men in New Delhi. In a Facebook post yesterday, he called it a “heartbreaking case”, and said that he would often cite cases like this as examples when he engages in discussions with people who want the death penalty here abolished.

“Many would agree that this is a type of case where, if the injuries inflicted were of a nature sufficient to cause death, then the abusers should face the death penalty,” he wrote.

…In his Facebook post, Mr Shanmugam also cited a “good letter” published in The Straits Times last Saturday by journalist Deepika Shetty. “She points out that in Singapore, young women can go about confidently at any time of the day and night, in spaghetti tops and shorts – a right which they should have, a right which society should protect,” wrote the Law Minister.

Deepika Shetty’s piece ‘You’re on my mind, Dec 29, ST ‘ was an emotionally wrought open letter to the now deceased rape victim, from which came the following that so inspired our Law Minister.

A city (Singapore) that many argue is imperfect. But let me tell you, it is a city where girls can walk freely in their spaghetti tops and shorts any time of the day and night. I watched them that morning, striding with confidence in the streets, as they rightly should.

A few years ago, a short distance away from where you are now, I had dinner with Indian actress Shabana Azmi. When it ended close to midnight, I offered her a lift home in my car. She declined, saying it was ‘liberating’ to take a taxi alone at midnight.

Now I don’t know how it is in India, but some Singaporean women I see ‘striding’ around in spaghetti straps and shorts are not doing it out of ‘confidence’, more like ‘complacency’, which is a nice way of saying ‘sloppy’. They’re not dressing as if they stepped out of a corset or just threw their bras into the bonfire. The suggestion that we take our ‘freedom’ to wear spaghetti straps for granted is acknowledging the bogus relationship between flashing more skin and the likelihood of rape and murder. It’s like saying I should treasure my right to wear spectacles and not get punched in the face by school bullies.

What does the way Singaporean women get to dress have to do with gang-rapes and death penalties anyway? Is Deepika suggesting that if you dressed skimpily at night in India or anywhere other than Singapore, you’re more likely to be raped and murdered? It’s no longer socially acceptable to put the blame on a woman’s miniskirts or tight-fitting blouses like they ‘asked for it’ as it was in the 80′s. That’s the whole idea behind Slutwalk, a protest that went global because a Toronto constable said “Women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimised”. And this was in 2011.

Selling the death penalty over a tragic loss of life may come across as tasteless and untimely, but oversimplification of the motivations behind sexual attacks by summoning provocative clothing (or lack of it) is equally disturbing. Women get preyed upon ANYWHERE whatever they’re wearing. By making reference to ‘spaghetti tops’, you’re suggesting that ‘Women DO NOT need to avoid dressing like sluts in Singapore (Spaghetti tops and short shorts are rape-bait elsewhere, but NOOOO dress as sexily as you like in Singapore because we’re SOOO SAFE!)’. I mean, why stop at spaghetti tops, how about jogging attire too (though some women may be more terrified of going for a run at night that walking home late after prom)?

The classical rape victim is one who falls prey to a stalking and ambush, whereby she’s physically overpowered and cornered, the kind of assault that makes the news, garners sympathy and stirs outrage everywhere. The kind that depicts the male species as the hideous brute and monster, that blames society for its indifference towards gender equality and not protecting its women. We hardly take notice of the many rapes that are committed (often unreported), not by sex maniac strangers on a bus, but friends and husbands, in your OWN bedroom. We support putting to death gang rapists but will we hang the husband who strangles his unwilling wife to death while performing some gruesome erotic fantasy?

Singapore only APPEARS to be rape-free on surface, because like most developed nations we have a different sort of monster who has evolved the skill of subterfuge in their mode of assault, who deceive or chemically induce their prey into submission, or blanket their actions through emotional blackmail rather than toss their victims off a moving bus. Has our death-penalty loving society done enough to protect these women, spaghetti straps or not? I doubt so. It also hasn’t done enough for our children, boys AND girls. It hasn’t stopped high-ranking individuals from visiting underaged prostitutes, pedophiles from surfing child porn, or the depraved with their sick crush fetishes, fulfilling their rape-and-murder wishes through role-play and other acts of profane, ejaculatory hedonism.

Yes, these rapist buggers deserve the death penalty. And so does pointless rhetoric.

Ah Boys to Men is sexist and promotes premarital sex

From ‘Ah Boys to Men is Bad for SAF’ and ‘Why promote pre-marital sex’, 30 Nov 2012, Voices, Today

(Vanessa Tai): I recently watched Ah Boys to Men with my parents and younger brother, who is undergoing National Service. Like other Jack Neo films, the humour was slapstick and littered with Hokkien expletives.  Those jokes were tolerable, but the misogynistic script was unbearable. For example, the recruits referred to women as “clothing that can be easily discarded” in a bid to cheer up one of the recruits who had been dumped.

Another example was a sergeant showing his recruits how to tear a certain leaf in order to form the shape of female genitals. Perhaps Mr Neo is accurately representing army life, but there is no value in such distasteful jokes. From what I understand, such banter is commonplace in the army, and while most guys do not hold sexist views, they play along so as not to be ostracised, which is a shame. Such behaviour should not be accepted as the norm.

A first-class military is not one that is just well armed or well trained in combat. A first-class military – in fact, a first-class society – is an egalitarian one that treats each member with respect, regardless of sex or socio-economic background. The Singapore Armed Forces is moving into a Third Generation, with greater emphasis on nurturing and engaging each soldier, which is a step in the right direction. However, more can be done to improve the image of our soldiers. Ah Boys to Men is a caricature, yes, but with many impressionable young men watching it, my worry is that Mr Neo’s careless stereotypes may undo a lot of the SAF’s good work.

(Goh Lee Hwa):As a mother, I am perturbed that Mr Jack Neo (picture) is endorsing pre-marital sex, in the scene where a guy told his girlfriend that he must have it before enlistment, or else the angels in “heaven” would laugh at him should he die during National Service. We parents are trying to discourage such practices, yet Mr Neo is endorsing it. That scene was uncalled for.

Careless, MDA. You’ve banned another local film for insulting Indians but clearly forgot about a film from a celebrated director that puts our entire ARMY to shame. Thanks to Jack Neo, now we know our boys are NOT writing letters to their loved ones, singing camp songs or playing carom in their bunk in their spare time, but trading sexist jokes, boasting about stealing their girlfriends’ virginity away or playing with ‘CB’ leaves. They also shouldn’t get drunk, steal rifles, cry like woosies in field camp, smoke cigarettes or have their maids carry backpacks for them. All that sort of loutish behaviour would surely do our military in. Leaves as sex paraphernalia instead of camouflaging against the enemy. The cheek!

Yes, our SAF has done a remarkable job of keeping Singapore SO safe we’ve never suffered a single war since its inception. Thanks to our army grooming responsible, ‘egalitarian’ citizens out of rough jewels, we’ll never have to worry about the same men beating women about, having sex with underage prostitutes, cheating on their wives, surfing porn or exchanging sex for favours even if they’re head honchos of key public institutions. How could you, Jack Neo. Why can’t you stick to making I NOT STUPID sequels, and portray students as suicidal depressives instead? That would be accurate, at least.

But seriously, why pick on Jack Neo when there are so many other movies out there which insult both sexes and plug stereotypes about young horny men? Does the writer think Jack Neo is a ‘role model’ for Singaporean boys? This guy cross-dresses like a grandmother for God’s sake. Boys are not going to watch Ah Boys to Men to PREPARE for army, or even for the humour. They would rather accompany their teenage girlfriends to watch the Breaking Dawn finale, and then hope that she returns some hot lovin’ for their painful sacrifice. No, Ah Boys to Men is likely to be a fave of Jack Neo’s staple audience, heartland uncles and aunties, and perhaps the entire singing crew of A Nation’s March. There are, of course, more important things to be worried about than SAF turning your boy into a Hokkien-spewing wife-beater. You’d better hope that he comes out of it ALIVE with his sanity and limbs intact, and lungs not permanently scarred from inhaling grenade smoke.

Any army boy booking out to spend their weekends seeing a whitewashed version of army reality is simply wasting his time. He’d rather polish boots than swallow cheap comic-relief stereotypes about potty mouthed drill sergeants, the mummy’s boy who can’t do a single pull-up and gets bullied by everybody until his geekiness saves the day, and of course the effeminate sissy afraid to damage his nails but dons the best camouflage skills in the platoon. The original NS movie Army Daze had all that, and those horrible ‘misogynistic’ stuff too. In one scene, the word ‘sexbomb’ was used to describe a soldier’s girlfriend. Even the Indian recruit had an exaggerated accent.

[Youtube clip disabled]

Resorting to bawdy humour is inevitable if you want to produce any sort of local army film given the constraints. Which is a waste as Jack could have pulled off something more ambitious without recycling the same old stock characters. You don’t need Jack Neo to EDUCATE young Singaporeans on what to expect in the army, just like you can’t prepare a woman for giving birth by watching ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’. He’s a businessman first and entertainer second, and the trailer alone has formulaic product placement and government approval written all over it. I haven’t watched the film myself, but for all its alleged heartfelt pandering to Total Defence, I think it could have redeemed itself with some badass aliens or mutant zombies. Or maybe an angry horde of striking PRC bus workers. Otherwise I can’t think of any homemade action movie which involved anything beyond a car flipping over and exploding on cue. But there’s hope because Ah Boys to Men Part 2 is coming soon FYI.

Our boys, being moulded into THINKING SOLDIERS as part of the 3G philosophy, should know better. Not thinking about sex, that is. I’m not sure what’s a more dangerous misconception though; that our army is actually READY for bloody battle, or that it’s a MONASTERY that preaches equality to all humankind.

Postscript: Hoping to be proven wrong, I rented the Ah Boys to Men DVD. The slo-mo panning of SAF slogans as the boys walked through the ferry terminal to Tekong could give one nausea before even boarding the boat. The much hyped war scene was packed with special effects that could match high-octane monster films like MEGASHARK vs CROCOSAURUS. The cast, however, saved the movie and kept it entertaining. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the sequel would have less propaganda and more character development, though a climax involving the Ah Boys learning to appreciate NS and becoming Best Buddies Forever seems to be a foregone conclusion.

We are the most emotionless society in the world

From ‘S’pore most emotionless society in the world: Survey’, 21 Nov 2012, article in Today online

Singapore has ranked as the most emotionless society in the world by a Gallup survey, according to a Bloomberg News report. The survey polled more than 140 countries to compare how people felt about their lives. Respondents were asked questions such as “Evaluate your life on a scale of zero to 10″ and whether their life would be better or worse five years from now.

Singapore came in ahead of countries such as Georgia, Lithuania and Russia, for being the most emotionless society. The most emotional society was the Philippines, followed by El Salvador and Bahrain. “If you measure Singapore by the traditional indicators, they look like one of the best-run countries in the world,” Gallup partner Jon Clifton was quoted by Bloomberg as saying. “But if you look at everything that makes life worth living, they’re not doing so well.

According to the report, not many Singaporeans answered “yes” to negative questions, and to questions measuring happiness, such as, had they smiled yesterday, had they learnt something interesting or felt respected or well-rested?

Being ‘emotional’ may not indicate passion, liveliness, fun or happiness. In fact being ‘emotional’ has somewhat negative connotations when you’re talking about one’s professional conduct or describing a partner or spouse, and brings to mind pettiness, fanaticism, wackiness, or jealousy. Conversely, being labelled an ‘emotionless’ nation can’t be all that bad. After all, it’s a trait that’s synonymous with cold German ‘efficiency’ or Ryan Gosling’s character in Drive; Singapore is the warrior monk of all nations, the Droopy to the Yogi Bear that is the Philippines.

It doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re a boring or unhappy lot, and I’d like to think of this result as a tribute to Singaporeans being a reasonable, composed, poker-faced people, though we wouldn’t be first on the invite list of a Playboy mansion party, nor someone you would want to be stranded on a remote island with. You don’t see Singaporeans whistling on the streets, and anyone caught humming or bobbing their heads in public would be viewed with suspicion. Some would argue that our numbness is due to years of one-party oppression, that we’re just, well, jaded. We could excel in a couple of niche professions though, like a gambler or executioner for example. We also blend in seamlessly with the wax figures at Madam Tussaud’s, or at a Night of the Living Dead zombies’ Meetup.

Our lack of ‘emotion’ could be linked to the flatness of Singlish in terms of tone or inflection, a language which outsiders may label as monotonous, delivered with the panache of a one-note Autotune. We speak, therefore we have become. But here’s how we fare in related global surveys, which may provide further insight as to why we’re  perceived as ‘emotionless’ beings.

1. Our lack of sexual activity: Singaporeans have among the least sex in the world.  Maybe that explains the joylessness of our existence, a nation devoid of post-coital cuddling. Our women don’t think very much of our guys’ erections either.

2. We are among the top gambling nations in the world. Our obsession and history with punting has bred a nation of poker faces, both the high-rollers at the card tables or the HDB uncles and aunties with blank expressions at the Toto booth.

3. Surprise, surprise, we are among the COOLEST countries in the world. Too cool to show emotion too, perhaps. You know, like Brando or Clint Eastwood in a Western.

4. We are the second unhappiest workers on the planet. Couple that with lack of sex above and little wonder why we have little to smile, or laugh about.

5. No argument on this one. We’ve been called the World’s most BORING country.  It doesn’t explain staycations, though.

I believe the physical lack of emotion is just one shallow facet of the Singaporean psyche. An emotionless society wouldn’t care enough to complain, and this blog alone is proof that when it comes to complaining, we would top the charts like we do the rest if there were ever a global survey on the matter. We may not have a Mardi Gras every weekend or ply the streets overnight with confetti and party-hats, but you can’t dismiss our kiasu-ism and passion for making things right, the way we throng IT fairs, fight on public transport, snigger at sex scandal testimonies, or profess our love for man-Gods. So I’m not sure if the Gallip people got real Singaporeans to answer questions, or if they simply watched one episode of Crime Watch.

Hands up if you’re feeling an emotion

KpopThxBye

50,000 Singaporeans living in Australia

From ’200,000 Singaporeans living abroad’, article by Theresa Tan, 14 Oct 2012, Sunday Times.

The number of Singaporeans living abroad has risen sharply over the past decade, with Australia, Britain, the United States and China being their main destinations. There were 200,000 citizens overseas as of June – a 27 per cent increase from 157,100 in 2003.

Most are between 20 and 54 years old, with slightly more women than men, stated the Population in Brief 2012 report published by the National Population and Talent Division (NPTD) last month. The figures refer to citizens with a registered foreign address or those who have been away for a cumulative period of at least six months in the past year.

…Economists interviewed said Singapore’s brain drain is more a social and political problem, rather than an economic one, as the outflow of local expertise is matched by an inflow of foreigners, so the country is not short of skilled manpower.

…The countries with the biggest number of Singaporeans are Australia (with about 50,000), Britain (about 40,000) and the US (about 27,000). China is catching up with about 20,000 Singaporeans, The Sunday Times understands.

Absolute numbers aside, there are other worrying signs about Singaporeans packing their bags and leaving for ‘greener pastures’. Of those who are still here, 56% (of 2000 Singaporeans) in a recent poll ‘would like to migrate’ if given a choice, and could be among workers with the highest rate of BURNOUT in the region. A section of the Population in Brief report unveils a disturbing trend other than a ‘brain drain’; if this rate of Singaporeans leaving remains constant while our birth rate declines, the ‘born and bred’ Singaporean may become an endangered species.

Based on the above, in 2011-2012 alone, about 8000 of us left Singapore. In the same period, more than 40,000 non-Singaporeans were granted PRs or citizenship. That is, for every Singaporean who leaves, 5 times more foreigners are here to stay. The outflow of expertise is most definitely not ‘MATCHED’ by foreigner inflow. It is like a football coach replacing a player with half a team of imports, without having a clue as to whether his team can gel together after topping up his squad. It is exactly this treatment of the census as a numbers game that perhaps makes those abroad wonder if they’re missed at all, or just mere statistics in business-as-usual population management.

If you look at the age demographic of overseas Singaporeans, they peak at 20-24, and then rise steadily from 30, hitting the highest number at 45-49. Which suggests that we are longer looking at people just RETIRING to a villa by the seaside anymore, where they can sit swirling a glass of Shiraz watching their grandchildren play in the garden instead of attending tuition. These are either young upstarts or adults in the prime of their lives. We also have about 10,000 Singaporeans who may be born here but are wouldn’t have the slightest memory of ‘home’ when they grow up anywhere but.

Of the young and, more regrettably for our birth rate, FERTILE, people leaving the country, there are significantly more females than males settling down elsewhere, especially in the 15-34 years group. It would be interesting to see how many of these are married, or living, with foreign spouses. For some women, it’s not just the Singaporean lifestyle that is a turn-off, but maybe the MEN are not worth returning home for either. The higher proportion of males in the 40-85 group suggests that men leave to further career prospects, raise a family or just kick back and relax without having to worry about taking part-time jobs clearing trays in food courts because his fellow Singaporeans are too damned lazy to clean up after themselves.

Interestingly, more people appear to be moving to China, or ‘returning to the Motherland’, a trend observed among Singaporean expats since 2008.  One can safely assume that means at least 20,000 CHINESE Singaporeans are not here with us as we speak (despite lack of ethnic data in other ‘second homes’). No worries, we have at least a million PRCs to more than compensate for the racial quota.

Yet, the above numbers could well be an underestimate. The World Bank cites the number of overseas Singaporeans as 300,000. In 2010. Of ‘skilled emigration’ in 2000, 15% of our tertiary educated population, and 15% of locally trained physicians bid Adieu. There have also been reports of ‘several Singaporeans’ gone MISSING while overseas. It didn’t help that in 2002, just before this surge in Singaporeans departing, then PM Goh Chok Tong implied that those who left or intend to leave are weak, cowardly, disloyal and fickle:

Has the younger generation of Singaporeans gone soft? Look in the mirror and ask ‘Am I a stayer or a quitter’? Am I a fair-weather Singaporean of an all-weather Singaporean’….Which country will they run off to next when bus fares go up in Australia?

Well, it looks like those ‘quitters’ are ‘staying’ in Australia still regardless of bus fares. But what’s so appealing about what Lee Kuan Yew once dubbed ‘The poor white trash of Asia’?  How about the fact that you could own a massive house, complete with swimming pool, tennis court and landscaped garden for less than the price of a Queenstown HDB flat? Or that your kids needn’t have to take the PSLE, do National Service, or go mad studying CHINESE? That you could knock off work before 5pm everyday and enjoy greater ‘work-life balance’ playing golf? Or is Singapore just not COOL enough? It seems that in the land of ‘poor white trash’, Singaporeans could live like ‘rich Asian kings’. In an ironic reversal of fortune, it’s the Aussies are who reaping the benefit of our unhappy emigrants, while Singapore, with its corruption scandals, gaudy casinos and Grand Prix posturings, is steadily becoming the TRASHIER of the two. But like everything else in life, achieving dream living standards in a foreign country may not always go according to plan.  Your business may fail, or, at the very worst, you may get tortured and killed after a very successful career in porn.

Nonetheless, something’s not right if our people constantly harbour thoughts of getting out of here, or put thoughts into action despite the risks of failure or ‘second-class’ citizenship overseas. Ironically in our government’s drive to make Singapore a ‘global city’, Singaporeans have gone ‘global’ themselves. It’s time to ponder who’s the REAL quitters or stayers, those who are willing to abandon their friends and ‘roots’ for the sake of their children, pursue their dream homes or solely for their own mental well-being, or those who hang around, resigning to their stressful lives and perennial debts, suffering and complaining like the miserable masochists that we are.

Meanwhile, participants in the first Our-SG conversation wished for Singapore to be the ‘happiest country in the world’. Be serious now, we need realists in the National Conversation, not deranged optimists who want to see Oscar the Grouch turn into Elmo in 10 years. You want to staunch the population leak with hard policies, not cotton candy and Post-It pads.

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