Birds in cages crying for help

From ‘Stop bird-singing competitions’, 20 Jan 2018, ST Forum

(Tan Kim Hock): Mr Donny Ho Boon Tiong is right – keeping pet birds should be made illegal (Have animal activists forgotten about birds?; Jan 17). Although Singapore is a small island, bird lovers should have no difficulty finding places to admire the animals in their natural habitats.

The keeping of birds in small cages is very cruel. I often wonder whether they are singing or crying for help when they call out. I also wonder if there have been any studies carried out on the welfare of caged birds.

The keeping of songbirds has been a practice in Asian societies for many years. Hence, the banning of the practice will certainly face objections, initially at least.

In Singapore, bird-singing competitions are regularly held by some grassroots organisations. This practice indirectly promotes the keeping of birds in cages.

As a first step, the People’s Association should perhaps discourage such competitions.

Like fining people for burning incense during Hungry Ghost month, it would be hard to crack down on bird hobbyists, especially since ‘Bird-singing corners’ was recognised as an official SG50 icon in 2015. Yes, if you want something for a tourist to remember the Garden City by, it’s a yellow bird in a small cage.

birdsingingcorner

 

Just like we have no idea what it’s like being a bat, we can’t judge the emotional state of a bird by the ‘sweetness’ of its melody. If a bird in a cage starts pecking its face off on the cage bars, it may look to me like it wants to get the fuck out, but to a songbird contestant, it could be just part of the avian maestro’s vocal ‘training’. As a songbird I may get daily massages and premium birdseed, I may be the reigning champion of Bukit Ho Swee constituency, but for all my talents I’m stuck in this pretty cage while the noisy bastard  Asian koel is out there laying eggs and using its wings to do the stuff birds do.

One of the silliest explanations given in support of Bird Idol contests is that a bird wouldn’t be singing if it weren’t HAPPY. Which is the same flawed anthropomorphic reasoning as saying dolphins are happy being held captive entertaining their human overlords because they look like they’re smiling all the time.

Besides, even as a human, singing doesn’t mean that I’m overjoyed. It could be a cry for attention like crooning ‘Tissue Paper One Dollar’, or raging against an ex-lover through Ceelo Green’s ‘FUCK YOU’. In the case of songbirds, it could very well be their version of Queen’s ‘I Want To Break Free.’

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Radiance of Resistance banned for skewed narrative

From ‘IMDA bans film on Palestine-Israeli conflict, citing its skewed narrative’, 2 Jan 2018, article by Yuen Sin, ST

A documentary film that was due to be shown at the Singapore Palestinian Film Festival on Thursday (Jan 4) has been banned from public screening by the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) for its “skewed narrative”.

The IMDA gave Radiance Of Resistance a rare Not Allowed For All Ratings (NAR) classification, over concerns that the film may cause disharmony among different races and religions in Singapore.

…According to the IMDA website, the one-hour film was banned from public screening and distribution here as it explores the Israeli-Palestine conflict “without counterbalance”.

“The documentary focuses on the Tamimi family, and two young girls, who are presented as the new faces of Palestinian resistance. In holding up the girls as role models to be emulated in an ongoing conflict, the film incites activists to continue their resistance against the alleged oppressors,” said the IMDA.

The trope is all too familiar. The rise of an underdog against the might of a superior power. A lone figure standing before a tank in Tiananmen Square. A Japanese soldier fending off American marauders. Tom Cruise in a conspiracy to assassinate the Fuhrer (Valkyrie). Hua Mulan charging on a horse against the Huns. Braveheart vs Mighty England. Pocahontas vs the Great White Male.

You get the point. ‘Skewed narratives’ are what STORIES are made of. The posthumous LKY film ‘1965‘ was skewed, so is Jack Neo’s juvenile depiction of NS life in the clusterfuck of Ah Boys to Men sequels. The Passion of Christ was biased towards the Romans. The Journey of the West epic put deities in a bad light. None of these got banned, or even a R21 rating, because filmgoers were trusted to form their own impressions. Because we’re sensible adults. We read books. If ‘counterbalance’ is desired, then it would be mandatory to view ‘To Singapore With Love‘ after ‘1965’.

Then a film from the Israeli-Palestine border comes along and the authorities suddenly decide to interpret its message as inflammatory propaganda on our behalf because national security. The thing is, if Singaporeans want to take up arms for some war-torn country in the name of religion, they’re not going to be inspired by an arty-farty documentary about teenage girl warriors. They’ll get self-radicalised from ISIS rap videos that promise rivers of wine and  virgins in the afterlife on You-fucking-tube.

Which is where everyone will turn to to watch Radiance anyway, thanks to IMDA’s inadvertent pitch.