PAP is like a fruitful mango tree

From ‘Don’t weaken fruitful PAP mango tree’, 10 Sep 2015, article by Siau Ming En, Today

Likening the People’s Action Party (PAP) to a mango tree that has yielded abundant fruit for more than 50 years and will continue to do so, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong yesterday questioned the Opposition’s desire to weaken it.

Speaking at a rally at Woodlands Stadium on the last day of campaigning, Mr Wong said to the crowd: “If a tree bears good fruit all these years, and you know that the tree will continue to bear good fruit, will you cut it down, will you tear it down, will you weaken the tree? Clearly, the answer is no.”

“The Opposition somehow has a different view, they want to weaken the tree,” said Mr Wong, who is contesting as part of the four-man PAP team in the newly carved out Marsiling-Yew Tee Group Representation Constituency.

I’m no expert in horticulture, but according to an Australian government department of primary industry, old mango trees may be ‘rejuvenated by a moderate and severe pruning’. So contrary to what Lawrence Wong thinks, some judicious ‘cutting down’ may actually revive a 50 year old mango tree rather than ‘weaken it’. The tree got one of its branches nicked post 2011 GE when George Yeo’s Aljunied team was defeated, and in the past 4 years we have got quite a bit of juicy fruiting, from new MRT lines to Pioneer Generation cards to increased Paternity leave. In the past week of electioneering though, all this mango tree has done so far is to throw shade on its opponents.

I hope we’ve seen the last of such metaphors. Retiring minister Lui Tuck Yew compared the Opposition to ‘poisonous mushrooms‘ weakening the ‘special tall trees’. Eric Low, losing candidate for Potong Pasir, said he was out to ‘pluck chikus’ in the ward.  Goh Chok Tong warned of sowing a bad seed and not knowing what kind of Opposition tree you would get. If there’s a more appropriate analogy of the PAP machinery, it’s that of a sprawling behemoth with invasive (grass)roots that creep all over your backyard, threatening to burst through the walls of your house. As for Opposition parties with manifestos that are pretty to look at but are ultimately barren, they’re more like the skeletal Instagram tree in Punggol.

There’s no doubt that the PAP tree is bursting with mango goodness. So abundant has been our harvest that even ex MPs can afford to pluck them as personal gifts, like Michael Palmer’s offering to his lover back in 2012. Sweet.

PAP is a cruise ship with a definite destination

From ‘Aljunied GRC voters can ‘have cake and eat it’:ESM Goh’, 6 Sep 15, article in CNA

While on a walkabout with the People’s Action Party’s (PAP) Aljunied GRC team, ESM Goh said his sense of the ground in Aljunied, which was won by the Workers’ Party in the 2011 General Election (GE), is that “many people are caught in a dilemma”. 

“They tell us quite openly that they want to support the PAP, but at the same time they are afraid. Vote for PAP, and Workers’ Party will be out. And therefore there will be no more opposition party, led by Mr Low Thia Khiang and Ms Sylvia Lim, in Parliament,” he noted.

The NCMP scheme ensures that there will always be a minimum number of opposition Members in Parliament. Citing the scheme, ESM Goh said voters and WP can, in fact, “have their cake and eat it”.

…The former Prime Minister also likened the dilemma Aljunied voters face as between a cruise ship with a destination and one without. “If you go with the PAP, you are actually embarking on a cruise ship with a definite destination. You know the destination, you know the journey, the path taken by the cruise ship. You know the captain, the crew members, you know the quality,” ESM Goh said.

“The other choice you’re given is take my cruise ship, I’m going to nowhere. You know there are cruise ships that go on a journey to nowhere. These are gambling ships, very exciting. You take my ship, you can gamble but go no where, just go round and round and so on. The point I’m making is there’s a choice for yourself.”

The phrase ‘having our cake and eat it’ has been used in the GE context to refer to Singaporeans wanting the PAP to lead the country, but at the same desire alternative voices in Parliament. In 1991, WP candiate Jufrie Mahmood used the same idiom to urge Singaporeans to vote for the WP (WP targets floaters and predicts a close fight, 31 Aug 1991, ST). Since 2011, Aljunied residents have indeed been enjoying cake, despite LKY’s insistence that they would repent for the indulgence. Come a week’s time and we’ll see if 4 years of cumulative indigestion would lead to voters puking all WP MPs out of their Parliament seats. Or, if voters are not swayed by the AHPETC salvos, Aljunied continues to eat the same cake. And then some.

ESM Goh’s cake comment reminds me of those ominous words erroneously attributed to Marie Antoinette. When told that the people were starving and had no bread to eat, she supposedly replied: ‘Let them eat cake!’, a phrase that alluded to the class separation between France’s aristocracy and the common people. It’s no coincidence that PM Lee not too long ago spoke of this ‘natural aristocracy’. Well, most Singaporeans can afford more than their daily bread, or even cake, of course. At least we don’t have to eat our own words. And we all know what happened to Marie Antoinette’s head after that. It rolled.

Since the watershed victory in 2011, it would be an insult to the Opposition to settle for NCMP positions in the catastrophic event that the PAP swallows all 89 seats this year (i.e they eating the whole damn cake, sugar frosting, candles and all). The scheme was a token creation of the late LKY in 1984 to help the younger generation appreciate ‘constitutional Opposition’.  Having gained considerable ground since then, no ‘self-respecting’ WP candidate especially the likes of Low Thia Khiang or Sylvia Lim would re-enter Parliament through the ‘back door’ if they could help it. It’s like having a chocolate lava cake one election, and being presented with a combat ration sponge cake the next.

ESM Goh’s analogy of the Goverment being a luxurious cruise ship also seems at odds with what PM Lee had to say regarding Singapore being compared to the same vessel. He said:

Once you think you are in a cruise ship and you are on a holiday and everything must go swimmingly well and will be attended to for you, I think you are in trouble.

No, it definitely doesn’t feel like the Royal Caribbean to the average Singaporean. Some of the houses we live in are even smaller than those cabin suites on board.  I’m also not sure what this ‘definite destination’ that ESM Goh painted for us is (Switzerland?) Whatever happened to choppy waters, stormy weathers and such? Didn’t we learn anything from killjoys like SARS, or the haze? Isn’t the Singaporean journey together as one united people, through ups and downs, more important than the final destination?

In fact, the casino ship seems a more appropriate analogy if you consider our dependence on the 2 IRs. Except that they’re more accommodating to foreigners than our own people, who’re probably stuck in the cargo hold peeling potatoes while the elite dance in banquet halls and have artisan cocktail parties with the captain. We need people to peep out of the porthole, to survey the ocean every now and then to look out for impending icebergs. We’d rather be a cruise to nowhere than the Titanic.

For a man who spoke only ONCE in Parliament these few years, he’s rabidly vocal this week alone. When asked about that one speech on the Population White Paper, ESM Goh admitted that it was a one-off, but at least was ‘impactful’.  You can still read the 2013 speech online and in essence he’s saying ‘I support the White Paper’, and something about pushing boulders up a mountain (Sisyphus much?). No one will remember it, quote abstracts from it, or say ‘GCT WAS RIGHT!’ should the 6.9 million target indeed turn out to be a lucky number. It doesn’t, however, beat his immortal speeches about our ‘Swiss standard of living’ or ‘stayers and quitters’ in terms of impact. Talk about Ownself praise ownself.

We’ve had a taste of cake, now here, have some humble pie, sir.

BreadTalk passing off Yeo’s soya bean milk as ‘freshly prepared’

From ‘BreadTalk gets stern warning from CASE’, 7 Aug 15, article by Jessica Lim, ST

The Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) has issued a strongly- worded warning to bakery BreadTalk, informing the firm that its recent actions were in breach of the law. It also warned the company that it would take action should such “flagrant breaches” continue.

The bakery chain came under fire for selling soya bean milk from Yeo’s in bottles labelled “freshly prepared” at many of its outlets.

A video of a BreadTalk worker pouring the drink from a Yeo’s carton into the bottles, which was widely circulated on the Internet, had sparked off the angry reaction.

…”The questionable practice by BreadTalk is unacceptable,” said Case executive director Seah Seng Choon. “By indicating the words ‘freshly prepared’ on the bottles, consumers may reasonably be deceived or misled to believe that the soya bean milk was freshly brewed in-house and therefore commands a higher value than Yeo’s pre-packed soya bean milk.”

Hey BreadTalk, Soya think you can cheat customers, eh? The company reportedly repacked and sold 350ml bottles at $1.80, from 1L packs of Yeo’s from Fairprice at $1.50 (probably currently going at 50% cheaper because of SG50). The question of what a bakery is doing selling soya bean milk aside, this cost-cutting stunt appears to be a desperate attempt to recuperate from the LKY bun fiasco back in April. If anything, this incident serves as a warning to consumers to educate themselves about how ‘Big Bread’ sources and markets their wares, and how ‘natural’ BreadTalk’s  ‘Natural Yeast Bread’ really is.

Food scams aren’t new. As far back as the early 1900’s, merchants were passing off butter as ‘cheap margarine’. One furious Forum writer compared the Yeo’s deceit to the case of meat suppliers passing off beef as mutton.  We panicked about the horsemeat scandal affecting our Ikea Swedish meatballs. Milk formula giant Wyeth sneaked lutein, unapproved as a nutrient by AVA, into their products. Yet despite all the lies and scares, we trust our AVA to do their jobs; that we don’t end up eating mislabelled, taboo meat, or pay a premium for something that you could get in bulk at a petrol kiosk during a CNY promotion. Fortunately for us, we were spared the raisin muffin aluminium scare which broke in BreadTalk HK back in 2014.  Not sure if these were labelled as ‘Freshly Smelted’.

BreadTalk apologised for the ‘misaligned presentation‘ in their Facebook page, which is a sugar-coated way of saying ‘we cocked up’. Sure, nobody got poisoned by the in-house repackaging, and one could argue that if you’re running a public listed company, some corner-cutting is likely to tolerated. I don’t expect your soup to be ‘home-brewed’, or even your bottled juice to be ‘freshly squeezed’. In fact, we all need to take such claims with a pinch of salt. Restaurants dress up their dishes with seductive claims all the time, whether it’s ‘slow-cooked’, ‘hand-made’, ‘homemade’, ‘organic’ or worse, ‘ARTISANAL’. We see things like ‘Natural Flavour’ in our foods but don’t think twice before dropping it in our shopping carts. It’s all in the marketing, but unlike BreadTalk, at least most people bother to hide their tricks away from concerned customers. I mean, just look at this Ferrero Rocher ad. It features a guy wearing an actual chef’s hat. And hazelnuts picked with fine tweezers.

If there’s anything that BreadTalk management knows it’s how to trim expenses. Founder George Quek was himself selected to be part of a ministerial pay review committee in 2011. They were also accused of discriminatory hiring practises, with one Malaysian HR manager reportedly signing up only his own countrymen. Well, as the saying goes – Talk is Cheap.

Overeasy sexy buns ad banned for showing butts

From ‘Eatery’s cheeky ad removed’, 23 July 2015, article by Jessica Lim, ST

A cheeky advertisement that raised eyebrows has been removed, after the eatery that put it up was ordered to do so by the advertising watchdog here.

The large billboard ad, featuring three scantily clad women exposing their buttocks, was put up by OverEasy Orchard, an eatery that is taking over the space occupied formerly by Wendy’s at Liat Towers. Beside the image was the tagline: “Seriously sexy buns. Two are better than one. Smack that. Aug 2015.”

The Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore (ASAS) ordered the eatery to remove the ad as it was deemed indecent and in breach of the Singapore Code of Advertising Practice (SCAP), an ASAS spokesman told The Straits Times in response to queries.

…When contacted, lifestyle company The Lo & Behold Group, which runs OverEasy and other restaurants, said that the ad was meant “to celebrate the female form” and that it intended to showcase OverEasy’s “characteristic cheekiness and irreverence”.

“The Lo & Behold Group apologises for how our advertisement might have made women feel,” said a spokesman for the group.

She added that the marketing for OverEasy, including the ad’s design, was done by an all-woman team. “To us, it is about women feeling sexy and confident in their own skins.” She said the phrase “lo & behold” has long been used colloquially to introduce something distinctive and impactful.

…Madam Raja Lachimi, 55, a housewife who has an 18-year-old daughter, said that such advertisements were “embarrassing” and “objectify women”.

She said: “That’s one reason I don’t take my daughter to Orchard Road. There are unsavoury locations there such as Orchard Towers and there are advertisements like the one at OverEasy.”

“I don’t think my daughter is ready for such ugly sights. I am happy they took it down,” she added.

ASAS decided to butt in and take it down

In 2010, Overeasy ran a ‘Fill My Cups‘ promo offering free booze to women based on the size of their breasts. 5 years on, they’re still in business despite complaints of ‘objectifying women’, proof that sex does bring in the booty, so to speak.

Lo and Behold is also the group behind ‘Extra Virgin Pizza’, which features ads like this:

All in the spirit of naughtiness then. ‘Lo and Behold’ is more an anachronistic expression than a ‘colloqualism’ as described, used most emphatically by medieval knights who managed to unlock chastity belts of damsels in distress. Looks like the group has all the erogenous zones of a lady covered in their campaigns.

It’s a shame that an 18 year old can’t even go shopping with her friends in town because she may stumble into sexy ads, be it the giant torso of Abercrombie and Fitch, or the simulacrum of a vagina by the Ministry of Waxing. Truth is, tits and ass are all over the heartlands as well, from semi-nude lingerie ads to Burger King ads that hint at fellatio. Did I also mention that she was EIGHTEEN?

The explanation about ‘women feeling confident about themselves’ is rubbish, considering the ad is all butt and nothing else. ‘Confidence’ is for sanitary pads and underarm whitening sticks, not light snacks. Subtlety is not Overeasy’s forte, and they’re downright shameless about it, even suggesting BDSM with the phrase ‘Smack That’. It’s crass, unimaginative and a sign that the marketing folks, whatever gender they belong to, have hit rock bottom when it comes to ideas for innuendo. A short skirt revealing a hint of undies is far more provocative than in-your-face buttocks, though the authorities may ban that too in case it increases the rate of people taking upskirt videos.

Grassroots workers getting tickets for 50 BBQs

From ‘Poor ticketing mars Aussie barbeque’, 1 July 2015, ST Forum

(Marc Lim Swee Keat): I applaud the Australian High Commission’s goodwill and generosity in organising 50 Aussie-style barbecues on Sunday evening (“It’s barbecue time for a taste of Singapore life”; Monday). Having been a beneficiary of the Australians’ big-hearted hospitality previously, my group of friends and I had looked forward to being part of the festivities.

To our dismay, however, we were turned away at Bishan Park, as the organisers’ personnel indicated that a ticket was required to enjoy the food provided. This was contrary to what we had understood in earlier reports of the event being freely open to the public (“Steak feast to mark 50 years of ties”; April 18).

Much as our group understood the need for crowd management, the means of ticket distribution left much to be desired. The People’s Association was engaged as the local community partner for the event. But only a select few community clubs had publicised the ticketing requirement prior to the event.

A sizeable majority of the ticket-holders were decked in grassroots attire, though we understood that it was not an exclusive event. Many visitors were left disappointed and confused.

However, many, including my group, were undeterred and had picnics along the river to enjoy the street performances, while soaking in the atmosphere. We had looked forward to an enjoyable evening of Australian hospitality, delectable food and entertainment.

But the poor public communications on the ticket allocation system had marred the true spirit and intent of our gracious Australian counterparts.

Sir there’s a cock on your head

This 50 BBQs event comes fresh after the two nations’ ‘koala diplomacy‘. Much has changed since PM Lee’s late father called Australia the ‘poor white trash of Asia‘. Today, his son, being the good sport that he is, is wearing silly balloon hats with Tony Abbott. We borrowed their marsupials and fired up the ‘barbies’. What next, Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman starring in a Mediacorp drama series? Malaysian PM BFF Najib Razak must be jealous.

For anyone who’s been here long enough, free steaks for everyone is simply too good to be true, and Singaporeans would fight tooth and nail to get a taste of Down Under without paying a bloody cent. The organisers only catered for a max of 1200 people, but 4800 tickets were given out to people on a first-come-first-served basis, which means there are likely to be ticket-holders who went home with an empty stomach. Incidentally, STB once launched a tourism campaign aimed at Australians, telling people to ‘GET LOST’. This steak fiasco is our retribution. You can smell and hear the sizzle from afar but can only stare and drool, as all these VIPs, who probably know shit about Australian history, sink their fangs into a juicy, oozing ribeye hot off the grill. I wonder how much a BBQ ticket would be worth on Carousell. Not more than the $400 NDP ticket I hope.

Grassroots members getting perks like priority steaks is nothing surprising anyway. They get priority for Primary 1 registration and parking, among other goodies as reward for serving the community. Once they’ve got their kids’ placing and Aussie steak, some will simply quit the job and go back to being an afterthought ordinary Singaporean like the kiasu buggers that they are. Wouldn’t it be a better idea if the Australian High Commission and PM Lee had flipped burgers for underprivileged orphans and grilled steak for old folks who’ve never been to Jack’s Place in their lives instead of promoting an unrealistic free-for-all meat orgy, causing many Singaporeans to ‘go off like a frog in a sock‘? Otherwise, there should have been a selection process for this, really, like inviting only the top 100 finalists of a ‘Waltzing Matilda’ karaoke contest.

Bring AC/DC here and all will be forgiven.

Kopitiam staff sacked for washing shoes in sink

From ‘NEA to take action against Kopitiam after employee was caught washing shoes in sink’, 23 June 2015, article by Lee Min Kok, ST

The National Environment Agency (NEA) said it will take action against food court operator Kopitiam after one of its employees was caught on camera washing her shoes in a sink at an outlet in the National University Hospital (NUH). The employee has been sacked after the incident was highlighted on social media.

The clip, which lasts almost two minutes, shows the woman scrubbing both her shoes with a brush under a running tap within the cold desserts section of the food court. She then appeared to return the brush to a container which held other kitchen utensils.

…Kopitiam, known for its chain of food courts in Singapore, has since apologised for the incident. In a post on Facebook on Tuesday morning, it assured customers that the washing equipment used by the employee had been replaced and the sink disinfected.

You may not be a frequent visitor to NUH Kopitiam, but patients from the wards are. Imagine if you were hospitalised for a severe bout of food poisoning and you decide to give yourself an icy treat near recovery, only to spend another few nights retching away because your Ice Kachang comes with ‘extra toppings’: Someone’s inner sole leather shavings.

Food courts in hospitals should be held to a more stringent hygiene standard than the ones in your average shopping mall. For an environment already teeming with bugs, the last thing you need is someone introducing ‘foot-borne’ ones into your meal. Rival food chain Koufu was once flanked by an army of cockroaches, and a kid lost his life after eating tainted Nasi Padang in Northpoint’s Kopitiam branch.  Yet, despite all these horrific lapses in hygiene, Singaporeans still flock to these places because they’re willing to eat mediocre, sometimes atrocious, food as long as there’s air-con and staff discounts.

The rest of us with more discerning stomachs but on an equally tight lunch budget often turn a blind eye to the filthy practices at hawker centres, nor do we stand by and film elderly cleaners using the same piece of cloth to wipe tables, plates and trays and cost them their jobs after posting videos on Stomp.

There are worse things than giving your shoes a rinse-over in the sink, though. Here are some real-life tummy-churners:

1) Cleaners washing glasses in a pail of dirty water.

2) Washing raw food with rainwater from the roof.
4) Putting raw chicken on the floor.
5) Smoking while flipping prata.

Seriously, most of us are too hungry to scrutinise a hawker’s fingernails, how he handles our money, where he wipes his sweat, or how the dishwashing is done behind the scenes. Let this be a wake-up call not just for kopitiam vendors, but anyone with a licence to sell food, that whenever public health is compromised by a gross act of negligence, someone will be watching, complaining and NEA will step in and not hesitate to give the offender, well, the BOOT.

Breadtalk LKY bun in poor taste

From ‘Breadtalk apologises for Lee Kuan Yew commemorative bun’, 25 Mar 2015, article in CNA

Bakery chain BreadTalk has apologised for a “commemorative bun” it put on sale to mark the passing of Singapore’s founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. Proceeds of the sale of the buns were to be donated to the Community Chest, BreadTalk indicated. However, the move was criticised on social media as being in poor taste. Some on Facebook said it was a “disgusting” attempt to cash in on the passing of a founding father of the nation.

…The buns had gone on sale with a sign: “Thank you for your unwavering strength and dedication in transforming Singapore. Filled with gula melaka-flavoured grated coconut and mixed with attap seed, this kampong-inspired creation is a tribute to a visionary leader who gave his life to build a nation from a kampong to a successful Singapore today. Let us join hands and hearts to honour him, Mr Lee Kuan Yew.”



This is just wrong. ‘Li Bu Kai Ni’ (can’t bear to leave you) should be made of a spicy red-hot tom yum filling, more representative of LKY’s fiery passion for Singapore, instead of some flaky coconut. While people in crutches are out there braving the heat queuing for hours to bid farewell to the icon, the people at Breadtalk were thinking of how to use this sombre event to promote their brand, for charitable causes or otherwise. They should just sell black charcoal red bean buns throughout this entire week of mourning instead.

It isn’t the first time that Breadtalk mixed pastry with puns; In 2010, they were accused of being racist for selling Naan the Nays. During the presidential election campaign in 2011, they dedicated the TAN-TART to all 3 candidates. When Steve Jobs died, they created the APPLE OF MY I.  I don’t recall Apple fans running riot over their stores demanding they withdraw this monstrosity. Not sure if they did any ‘Black and White’ creation when Michael Jackson passed away.

Occasionally they run out of ideas, naming one of their ring buns the ‘Circle Line’ to promote the new MRT line.  The commemorative ring pastries were launched in early October 2011. 2 months in, and the actual Circle Line broke down in one of the worst PR disasters in the history of Singapore’s public transportation.

The Circle Jinx

As if naming LKY after food isn’t bad enough, PAP MP Teo Ser Luck invented a crossfit workout named LKY91 dedicated to his hero, 91 being the age of LKY’s demise. No doubt the late LKY was an exercise addict, but surely he deserves better than be honoured by air goddamn squats and ‘double unders’. Not to mention in the late stages of his life he was suffering from peripheral neuropathy. LKY91 reads more like a torture manual rather than an exercise routine. Maybe you should rename it the #fml91 workout. Because that’s what you’ll say to yourself over and over 91 times for subjecting yourself to this physical abuse.

Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 10.30.39 PM

This clip is the perfect response to all this personality cult nonsense, one that says ‘I ain’t got the time for your dumbass bullshit’.


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