IPPT tests ditch-leaping and bullet-dodging

From ‘Let’s be cautious about lowering IPPT standards’, 5 July 2014, Voices, Today.

(Ben Ong):… I may not be an IPPT Gold award holder, but the logic behind each IPPT station seems clear. The test was designed to gauge soldiers’ fitness in relation to the physical demands placed on our bodies during combat situations.

For example, chin-ups are a good way to gauge whether we can haul ourselves, body armour, weapons et al, across a wall or parapet. The standing broad jump gauges our ability to hurl ourselves across a ditch. The shuttle run measures our ability to sprint short distances — probably useful when dodging bullets or looking for cover.

…What about a special type of IPPT with reduced stations for those unable to pass? It would be bare-bones, but set at a standard established as the minimum required of any soldier. There would be no monetary award, but those who opt for it may have their NS liabilities extended. This makes it fair on other NSmen who do pass the IPPT.

My NS mates and I have concluded that it is not easy, but not impossible, to pass the IPPT. We just have to look after ourselves, eat healthily and do simple exercises as part of our daily lives. We try not to eat chicken rice or char kway teow every other day; we climb stairs to the office instead of taking the lift; we walk to places where we have lunch instead of driving; we do push-ups, tuck-jumps or sit ups at home while watching the news.

If the IPPT were designed to create fighting fit supersoldiers, then we’d have to wear ‘body armour, weapons et al’ AT EVERY STATION in order for it to be a realistic gauge of combat fitness. SBJ is particularly unpopular, with 38% of NSmen polled by ST wanting this station dropped, second only to the murderous 2.4k run. It also happens to be the only station that you can complete in less than 10 seconds if you’re the kind who jumps over longkangs on a daily basis. Yet nobody, full battle order or not, leaps over gaping ditches looking LIKE THIS.

Gold standard jump

Gold standard jump

In the event of a real war, I’d take my chances with a running start than standing at the edge of a death drop swinging my arms like  I’m doing warm-ups for a ski jump event instead. If it’s jumping over obstacles that you want to test, then why not put our reservist NSmen through SOC (Standard Obstacle Course) instead? It’s IPPT, not Ninja Warrior. SBJ proponents argue that the station emphasises on lower body muscular strength, and strong legs would come in handy should you need to carry the wounded to safety. In that case, why should distance be a critical factor? How about having us do 40 squats instead?

If there’s one ‘proficiency’ that Shuttle Run serves to improve, it’s unlikely to be escaping a rain of bullets. It’ll be more useful for a situation whereby you spot a gleaming 1 dollar coin on a busy road some 10 metres away and you need to dash and grab it before a car runs you over. Escaping bullets is not just about bursts of speed or dumb luck, but agility and lightning reflexes as well. How about replacing the shuttle run with a station called ‘Bullet Duck’ instead, which gives you points based on somersaulting, rolling, bending over and jumping sidewards in slow motion while returning fire.

Today, you can even do your 2.4k run on a TREADMILL in an air-conditioned gym. I can’t think of one ‘combat situation’ where this may relate to. Or perhaps it’s mental preparation for POW capture. Because that’s exactly what running stationary on a treadmill for 10 over minutes feels like. Torture.

In real war, nitty-gritty rules like overstepping the SBJ line, ‘fault jumps’, ‘chin over bar’, ‘no cycling of legs’, ‘elbows touching the knee’ are all rendered irrelevant, yet these are exactly the small things that make the difference between a pass and fail. No NSman should be compelled to do RT(Remedial training) over a trifling technicality. Being an ‘INDIVIDUAL PROFICIENCY’ test, the IPPT also undermines what really counts in the battlefield. Teamwork. If you can’t jump or scale walls for whatever reason, your band of brothers are supposed to be there, hauling you up from the brink of certain death, saving you from a lobbed grenade and taking a bullet for you. Like the SOC, such fitness tests and its incentives encourage a ‘me-first’ mentality where the one who gets the Gold (and money) escapes unscathed, while the less fit fall into bottomless pits and get impaled on barbed wire because they lacked certain ‘techniques’ or physical prowess that some people are naturally gifted with. Or worse, do RT.

As an ex-IPPT sufferer myself, I can tell you maintaining a ‘healthy lifestyle’ alone will not guarantee a pass. I know guys who are professional sportsmen but falter at chin-ups or SBJ. In fact, I may argue that forcing IPPT down our throats may turn us against general exercise for its own enjoyment, to the point that one can’t jog around a stadium track anymore without being reminded of RTs, or manage a chin-up without hallucinating voices shouting ‘No Count. ZERO’. One argument that may make the Government sit up and listen is that RT takes the NSman’s precious time away from family and procreation, which I believe has higher priority over IPPT passes, or an army’s proficiency in jumping over ditches.

UPDATE: When the SAF decided to reduce the number of stations from 5 to 3 (push ups, sit ups and 2.4 km), I suspect the same writer Ben Ong complained allowing more guys to pass the test by removing problematic stations would make us a weaker, ‘strawberry generation’ army. Using the dodgy analogy of removing composition from Mother tongue exams so that more students can pass, he reiterated his point that anyone should be able to pass as long as they ‘watch their diet’ and do basic exercises ’10 to 15 minutes a day’. Another writer griped that the IPPT needs to be a ‘struggle’ to bring out the best in soldiers. All these complaints before the whiners even experiencing the new IPPT themselves. What makes you think it’s easier to run 2.4km after doing BOTH push-ups and sit-ups?

Dudes, the army doesn’t maintain its ‘operational readiness’ based on tough IPPT stations alone, and there are many who pass or even score flying colours in the IPPT but make terrible soldiers who won’t leap over ditches (SBJ) or can’t duck bullets (shuttle run) in a real war situation. Stop preaching your fitness sermon or you’ll be at the receiving end of a blanket party. Now no Gold in IPPT can save you from that.

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Women’s Charter penalising men unfairly

From ‘Stop abuse of Women’s Charter’, 26 April 2014, St Forum

(Derek Low): I SUPPORT Justice Choo Han Teck’s suggestion to reform the Women’s Charter (“Maintenance not an unalloyed right of women: Judge”; Tuesday), although his idea of a Marriage Charter may take years to become reality. Women in our society have often pleaded for equal rights in every aspect of their lives. So why do we still allow double standards that penalise men under the Charter?

The Charter was enacted in the 1960s to protect the many housewives who were supported by their husbands. But times have changed. Our Government has encouraged women to join the workforce to be independent and contribute to nation building. Women have come a long way since then. Many are more successful than their husbands, who are proud of their spouses’ achievements.

I urge Singapore’s modern women to take pride in who they are, what they do and the effort they have put into their marriages. But when the marriage fails, they ought to be logical and sensible, instead of making unreasonable demands under the outdated Charter.

Justice Choo called for a fairer ‘Marriage Charter’ after rejecting a woman’s $120,000 claim from her ex-husband. She’s a regional sales manager while he’s a senior prison officer, the latter already currently paying $1000 monthly for a 17-year old son from her PREVIOUS marriage. The judge cuttingly refers to such arrangements as ‘patronising gestures of maintenance that belie deep chauvinistic thinking’. In 2011, ST reported that an average tai-tai can expect to earn $15-30K of monthly maintenance from ‘high net-worth’ husbands. The Queen of Instagram herself, Jamie Chua, sought a jaw-dropping $450,000 monthly from her ex-husband.

Unfortunately for some not-so-well-off men, such flexibility wasn’t so readily applied in the past. In 1980, divorcee ‘Born Losers’ cried foul when his ‘recalcitrant wife’ got to benefit from his maintenance, even though she wasn’t the one looking after the kids. It was already known in 1970 that men get the shorter end of the stick when a marriage fails, with one writer referring to the Charter as the ‘additional FANGS to a woman’s natural armoury of feminine weapons and wiles’, and that marriage was mostly beneficial to women, the men being ‘unappreciated, unsung martyrs’. Some fall victim to frivolous accusations of defying ‘personal protection orders’, especially if they’re twice the weight of their wives and naturally viewed as the bully in the relationship. This call for ‘gender equality’ isn’t new really, with people recognising the unfairness in the laws as early as 1971 – more than 40 YEARS ago!

We have to thank a certain Mr K.M Bryne, Minister of Labour and Law, who in 1959 decided that ‘women and girls’ needed to be protected from the abominable pigs that are men, which interestingly included elements such as ‘sweeping powers against patrons of brothels’, and a ‘one-man-one-wife law applicable to all EXCEPT Muslims’. The intention was to bring the laws ‘up to date’ with other countries ‘like England’, based on the assumption that women are the more devoted parents who only want the best for their children that they would give up their careers for them. That they would never marry a rich dude for money, find a reason to desert him, then ask for maintenance leveraging on this wife-protecting charter. Meanwhile, men are compelled to read the laws carefully before deciding if marriage is worth the risk of a lifetime of indebtedness, and even if they are financially worse off than their spouse, they’re sometimes liable to give what the law refers to as a ‘token fee’. In some cases, this can be even as low as 1 freakin’ DOLLAR.

In an attempt to nullify its image as a male-bashing organisation, AWARE stepped up to propose that the charter be renamed the ‘Family Charter’ (Tweak Women’s Charter for gender equality, ST Forum, 25 April 2014), claiming that they have ‘LONG ARGUED that much of the Charter needs to be rethought’. Well have they really? What have they been doing to urge ‘rethinking’ of the Charter to ease the burden on men since their formation in 1985? It’s not stated anywhere in their list of milestones, though in 2010 then Executive Director Corrine Lim defended that it was a ‘misconception’ that the Charter was ‘anti-male’, yet at the same time admitted that the maintenance issue was ‘outmoded and unfair’. Well of course it can’t be ‘anti-male’, it was a MAN’s idea in the first place.

Maybe more men could have been rescued from such archaic laws if the organisation had focussed more on pushing for revisions of the charter rather than slamming ads for being sexist or getting misogynistic army songs banned. More recently AWARE has complained about NSmen receiving benefits as reward for service because NS isn’t the ‘single gold standard for citizen belonging‘, and that this threatens to create ‘different tiers’ within society. As one who served himself, such handouts are well appreciated, though it’s tempting to brag it’s only one’s duty to serve and that we’re not doing this for housing or education benefits but for the NATION. We especially didn’t ask for AWARE, who is obviously in no position to comment on NS matters, to urge that we should be deprived of the fruits of our labour should the Government deems us deserving of such. Maybe this gender-neutral Charter response is really a smokescreen for the backlash from that previous NS comment.

But back to the Charter. AWARE weren’t the first to suggest a change of name and have no right to claim credit for it.  In 1980, some Christian societies called for the courts to exercise discretion to grant maintenance to the husband ‘where circumstances justified it’, like the handicapped or those too poor to maintain themselves. The name ‘Family Charter’ was proposed then. Others called for a counterpart to the Women’s Charter called the MEN’s Charter. Maybe we should have a CHILDREN’S Charter too, one that protects kids against neglect because their splitting parents are too busy fighting over money to perform basic childcare duties.

As a credit card company once famously said: The men don’t get it.

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.

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.

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