Nursing home’s Chinese name is blunt and insensitive

From ‘Hougang nursing home needs more sensitive Chinese name’, 29 Apr 16, Voices, Today

(Julia Ng): Recently, I drove past a soon-to-be-completed nursing home by Thye Hua Kwan Moral Society on Hougang Avenue 8, and was dismayed by the Chinese name of the facility.

A prominent signage states the name as THK Nursing Home. Above the English words is its Chinese name, where “Nursing Home” has been translated as “Bing Lao Yuan”. The Chinese character “bing” means illness and “lao” means old. So it literally means a facility for sick, old people.

It conjures up an image of progressing illnesses, frail old age, followed by death, and evokes a sense of gloom and doom, of bleakness and hopelessness. This is definitely unhealthy for a nursing home and disrespectful to our seniors.

Sure, we can call a spade a spade, but when it comes to senior care, there ought to be more sensitivity and empathy. There is really no need to be so blunt and insensitive.

I wonder what the complainant has to say about The Moral Home for the Aged Sick in Bedok. Nursing homes, hospices, old folks’ home, retirement villages, whatever you call them all serve the same purpose, to ‘provide quality care’ to the ‘destitute, frail and aged sick’. In the 1920s, philanthropists like Mr Aw Boon Haw of Haw Par Villa fame set out to help his ‘decrepit‘ countrymen, who were not only aged, but poor and ‘helpless’.

Today, call nursing home places where old, sick people go to die and you may get accused for not just ‘disrespecting’ our seniors, but labelled an ‘ageist’ as well. We have a pioneer generation, active seniors contributing to a ‘silver economy’. They are now our beloved elders, no longer the unmentionable ‘old folks’. If you’ve run out of ideas for hospice names, look in a geography textbook.

An example of a politically correct nursing home brand is Orange Valley, which aspires to be a ‘partner in ageing’ to your ‘senior needs’. Unlike a ‘moral home’, Orange Valley sounds like perfect place to  ‘ride off into the sunset’, like the end of a cowboy movie. Then there’s Bright Hill Evergreen Home (though these days the word ‘evergreen’ itself may still be spat upon with contempt by some seniors). Its Chinese name ‘Guang Ming Shan Xiu Shen Yuan’, translates as ‘Bright Hill Centre for Healing/Convalescence’. What next? Spring Oasis? Green Savannah? Silver Meadows? Stretch the euphemisms further and we risk mistaking hospices for condos. You wheel yourself in expecting a welcome cocktail and a garden of earthly delights but get a catheter shoved brutally down your nose instead.

If I’m aged and sick and am absolutely certain that I’d be dead in 3 months, I’d rather sign up for a place that has no pretenses and most importantly value for money, rather than one that airbrushes the reality of my impending death with phony names like how one smothers a corpse with aromatherapy bath salts.

Naming those responsible for Hep C outbreak breeds blame culture

From ‘Revealing staff involved in Hep C outbreak will breed blame culture: Health Minister’, 4 Apr 2016, article in CNA

Revealing the names and specific sanctions received by staff from the Ministry of Health (MOH) and Singapore General Hospital (SGH) in the wake of the Hepatitis C outbreak last year would not “contribute to better care of patients”, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong in Parliament on Monday (Apr 4).

Mr Gan was responding to a question by Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) Leon Perera, which called for the disclosure of the names and punishments of the outbreak at SGH’s renal ward that claimed eight lives.

In total, four MOH officers holding Director-level or equivalent roles and 12 SGH leaders including senior management were punished.

“Instead of focusing on naming the individuals and developing a blame culture in our healthcare institutions, we need to encourage a learning culture to make our hospitals as safe as possible for our patients,” said Mr Gan. “This culture of continual learning and improvement is important for enhancing patient safety and the quality of care.”

In 2014, a hospital pharmacist was name-checked in the media for a fatal medication error (Negligent pharmacist fined for causing patient’s death with overdose, 16 May 2014, ST), and no one of any authority was there to deflect blame and preach about transforming the finger-pointing into a ‘learning culture’. Supporters of the name-and-shame method remember how Roy Ngerng was sacked for ‘misusing TTSH time and resources to pursue personal interests’. More recently, a single doctor was identified and fined after wrongly administering a chemo drug into a patient’s spine instead of a vein. The harsher sentence is that the Internet remembers and is there to constantly remind you of the gravest mistake of your life.

Back in 2009, however, in a medication error involving cancer drugs delivered via infusion pumps in which 2 KKH pharmacists were involved, no names were leaked. The same level of secrecy was evident in the baby mix-up saga from the very same hospital. It does appear that there’s ‘safety in numbers’ looking at the examples above. If more than a dozen senior people from both MOH and SGH were judged to be collectively responsible, the whole chain-gang is protected behind a security blanket. If one pharmacist, nurse or doctor is responsible, he or she is left to fend for their reputation for the rest of their lives. More like a ‘dilution of blame’ culture, it seems. If a man is clutching his chest panting for dear life in the street and you’re the only person around and you do absolutely nothing, you’re a heartless bastard. If you’re among a crowd of useless bystanders, however, the guy on the floor was just unlucky.

Whether or not one chooses to use public shaming to deter others for the greater good, the fact that a terrible mistake has been made means that there should be a ‘learning and improvement process’ in place ANYWAY. Keeping mum about the identities of culprits has nothing to do with subsequent mitigation measures. You could also argue the alternative view, that revealing names and sanctions would actually ‘contribute to better care’ on the contrary, like how capital punishment contributes to a drug-free Singapore.

LKY hero worship is cringeworthy

From Dr Lee Wei Ling’s Facebook post, 26 March 2016

Lee Kuan Yew would have cringed at the hero worship just one year after his death

The response of Singaporeans during the seven days of national mourning when my father, Lee Kuan Yew, died last March was unanticipated – even by Singaporeans themselves, not to mention foreign observers. As his daughter, I too was astounded by the intensity of Singaporeans’ feelings towards my father.

…Life seemed to return to normal for Singapore over the past year. Personally, it was a different story for me. That I don’t express my emotion in public does not mean I am not hurting inside. The wound has only recently healed, and not even completely. So I declined to comment for publications marking the first anniversary of my father’s death.

What made me write this article was a front page report in The Straits Times (Mar 21). It carried a photo of an outline of Papa’s face made with 4,877 erasers that form an installation which is 2.3 m wide and 3.1 m tall, titled Our Father, Our Country, Our Flag. That was the work of 110 Singaporeans aged 17 to 35 using erasers with the Singapore flag on it.

It was a well-meaning effort but it made me wince. Here is why:

The photo brought back memories of my first visit to China with my father in 1976. It was the end of the Cultural Revolution and I have vivid memories of our delegation being greeted by young children lining the streets chanting loudly: “WELCOME, WELCOME, A VERY WARM WELCOME.”

It was very contrived and my father was not impressed. We are Singaporeans, not prone to excessive, unnatural displays of emotion.

…I acknowledge the outline of Papa’s face made with erasers as a sincere gesture. But in looking at acts of commemoration in general, I would ask how the time, effort and resources used to prepare these would benefit Singapore and Singaporeans.

…Any veneration could have the opposite effect and lead future generations of Singaporeans to think that my father’s actions were motivated by his desire for fame, or creation of a dynasty. He strove hard and determinedly in life to advance Singapore, and not for his place in history, or leaving a great legacy. He is a rare politician and leader, who did what he had to do with no thought to any gain for himself.


The late LKY once said that even if he had to be lowered into his grave, if he saw something wrong, he would get up. Today, one year after his passing, he’s probably cringing from the other side, with Mdm Kua Gek Choo by his side consoling him: ‘Dear, at least it’s not a giant statue like Michael Jackson’s off his History album cover’, to which her soulmate would reply: ‘It’s damn rubbers. At least you could USE a $50 commemorative note with my face on it!’.

What his daughter is saying about the death anniversary commemoration is ‘Nice, but please don’t waste your time and just get on with your lives already’. An even more cringeworthy piece of news was that of an Indian child born a year ago today in Tamil Nadu, also called Lee Kuan Yew, in honour of His Greatness. There was a nationwide search for people with the same name. Breadtalk wisely refrained from capitalising on the surge in this ‘hero worship’. Elsewhere, people observed a minute of silence, flocked to remembrance sites in Tanjong Pagar, shed a tear or two or, if they have too much time on their hands, create mega portraits made out of erasers, signatures, staples, nose hair, back pocket scraps or their own blood. No it wasn’t a mere hero that people were praying to. It’s a God-Emperor. Don’t forget to plan for Sept 16, your Heavenly Father’s 93rd birthday, devotees!

Lee Wei Ling already saw this mass deification coming just last year (Dr Lee Wei Ling on honouring the late Lee Kuan Yew’, 19 April 2015, ST). Her dad was dead set against a personality cult  growing around him, eschewed hagiographies and had urged an ex-MP to ‘remember Ozymandias’, a pharoah who craved glorious immortality only to have his statue reduced to dust over time, leaving only the desert. Other writers advised against lionising the late leader and making an ubermensch out of him. Then there’s all this fuss over the Owen Road house, which may well turn out to be a shrine instead of a historical building if we don’t watch ourselves. Interestingly, Lee Wei Ling used the loaded word ‘dynasty’ in her post, a word that Lee and company did not take kindly to when they sued the New York Times for the defamatory ‘All in the Family’ article about political dynasties.

The media was, as expected, flooded with tears and sentiment of ex-Ministers paying tribute to Dear Leader, expressing more sorrow and gratitude than if it were their own dead parents. Meanwhile, someone else needs to settle the dead SMRT staff incident, while these guys are busy writing their soppy monologues and rehashing their public sad face, which no one gives a shit about except maybe the PM, who must be thinking at some point: ‘Why can’t I spend some time quietly reflecting on Daddy without going around beaming in approval at all these activities dammit!’

Let’s honour the man not by stroking his ghost ego, but by emulating his agnostic, pragmatic spirit. Our nation wasn’t built by one man, so let’s not undermine the contributions of other important individuals by elevating LKY on a godly pedestal. Stop the wailing, the offerings, the hero worship hang-ups and get on with your lives, Singaporeans.

More elderly Singaporeans killing themselves

From ‘More seniors in Singapore taking own lives’, 17 Dec 2015, article by Janice Tai, ST

…Last year (2014), 126 seniors aged 60 and above killed themselves. This is a jump of nearly 60 per cent from the 79 seniors who committed suicide in 2000. There were 95 of them in 2010.

While the suicide rate in Singapore has remained at between eight and 10 suicides per 100,000 residents over the past decade, the proportion of the elderly among those who take their lives each year has risen.

In 2000, 23 per cent of suicides here were from among the elderly. By 2010, the group made up 27 per cent, and the number grew to 30 per cent last year.

In less than 20 years, a fifth of Singapore’s population will be at least 65 years of age, making our country a ‘super-aged’ nation. Despite this, our Government still sees the ‘silver’ lining behind the challenge of dealing with millions of old folks, that they could turn a burden into a ‘positive force for social and economic development’. In other words, we will try our darnedest to keep you productive, but nothing much can be done about your psychological well-being. Other than, well, giving you priority queues for everything.

We used to think that longevity and advances in medical technology would make our ‘golden years’ less miserable than they’re supposed to be, but not every senior citizen will spend their twilight years watching their last sunsets on a hill with loved ones by their side. Some will end up rotting in a house with no one noticing until the stench overwhelms your Indian neighbour’s pungent curry. If you’re counting on your children or grandchildren to keep you sane till your dying breath, you better hope they don’t beat you to it and commit suicide themselves too. Yes, those below 10 years included.

Having one of the highest rate of diabetes in the world isn’t helping either. Not only are we ageing faster, we’re getting sicker too. Not every old foggie wants to socialise in the seniors’ corner or have the time for your ‘community activities’, especially if there’s cardboard to be pushed and sold, or if you’re struck with dementia and spend your days indoors trying to figure out how to get out of your pants to take a piss. Our grandfathers used to entertain the family with war stories and tales of famine and survival. When it’s my turn, nobody will give a shit about how I passed my PSLE, or how I met my wife online. The kids will come, give Gramps a hug, and then go stare at their phones for the rest of the visit.

If I were to find myself immobile, physically dependent on a bedpan and have to live with the shame of a helper cleaning up after my foul incontinence, then yes, I’d rather die before being transferred to a retirement village and oblige dancing kindergarten kids with an ugly toothless grin and arthritic clapping. Deplete my bank account to pay for that additional hospital stay and a pill worth more than a ferry ride to seedy Batam for one last fling? Hell no.

The term for killing yourself to spare others the pain of caring for you is ‘altruistic suicide’, which makes the act sound as heroic as sacrificing yourself by taking a grenade in the face for your loved one. The tricky bit is how to end it all painlessly. I can’t possibly roll myself off the top of my block, not to mention pop a hundred painkillers into my mouth without shaking them all onto the floor if I’ve got Parkinson’s. Which may explain why some old folks decide not to wait for the inevitable decline and meet their maker when they still have the strength to climb the stairway (to heaven).

Interestingly, someone speculated a link between opium and elderly suicide in 1975. Or rather, the lack of it. Another theory about why it tended to be Chinese men who took their own lives rather than the Muslims was possibly religion, which makes taking your own life a cardinal sin for the latter. Whatever it is, loneliness, money problems, shitty unfilial kids or just abject futility at the whole purpose of your existence, maybe it’s time our Government reboots their thinking of geriatric care and study how we can age gracefully, and not obsess whether we have enough money to carry us to our graves.

We should look at other less affluent societies where old people celebrate life even without the best nurses or hospitals that money can bring, where they’ll sip wine, laugh, enjoy slow dancing, and go skinny dipping in an icy lake without being hauled up for indecent exposure, where they’ll reminisce on the trivial absurdities of their youth, rather than harp on a lifetime of missed chances and regrets.


Calvin Cheng on the killing of terrorists’ children

From ‘Calvin Cheng’s killing children remarks insensitive and inappropriate: MLC Chairman’, 28 Nov 15, article by Raymond Tham, CNA

Recent remarks made by former Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) Calvin Cheng online were “insensitive” and “inappropriate” for a member of the Media Literacy Council (MLC), said the council’s chairman Tan Cheng Han in a statement on Friday (Nov 27).

“I have spoken to Mr Cheng and counselled him that as a member of the Council he will be held to and judged by a higher standard compared to a private citizen,” Professor Tan said.

On Nov 17, Mr Cheng posted a four-lined comment online, which seemingly advocated killing the children of terrorists “in case they grow up to take revenge”. Mr Cheng had been responding to a thread about liberalism and security started by Future-Moves group chief executive Devadas Krishnadas.

After receiving negative feedback, Mr Cheng took to his blog on Nov 24 to elaborate further on his initial comment. According to Mr Cheng, his initial comment was meant to be “provocative and outrageous” to spark deeper thought into a “complex moral issue”.

Mr Cheng also referenced two schools of thoughts regarding the topic: Moral absolutism versus utilitarianism. “Take self-defence. If a child is holding a rifle and is about to shoot at you, do you have the right to kill him?” Mr Cheng wrote.

In 2011, a Young PAP member named Jason Neo was accused of racism for captioning an image of bus of kindergarten kids with the phrase ‘young terrorist trainees‘ and posting it on Facebook. Now the MLC would condemn such discrimination as ‘hate speech’, but when a more renown public figure sparks controversy by suggesting how children of terrorists should be handled for the ‘greater good’, the incident is let off the hook on the grounds of ‘insensitivity’. Cheng, as expected of a man of his character, remains grudgingly apologetic/(unapolegetic?) about the whole affair.

Incidentally, both Jason and Calvin Cheng were from the Young PAP (YPAP), though the latter scooted out of that organisation in a hurry to become NMP once his ‘curiosity’ was sufficiently stoked. Back then, Cheng explained that he was ‘curious’ all the time, and that his YPAP stint wasn’t on a ‘whimsy’ or a fling even though he never collected his membership card, and one wonders if that’s the same reason given for being part of the MLC.

While inciting provocative moral issues like whether you should shoot a child in the face if it’s really a demon spawn from the Children of the Corn appears to be out of scope of the MLC’s mission and core values, they do frown upon commentators with a brazen lack of respect or those who engage in personal attacks.

One saga which casts doubt upon Cheng’s capacity to champion media literacy/etiquette was when he targetted playwright Alfian Bin Saat in a FB post, even threatening to invoke the ISA:

…In countries where Muslims are minorities, ISIS propaganda takes advantage of feelings of insecurities, fabricate lies that they are being oppressed and then thereafter persuade them to commit acts of violence against their alleged oppressors, all under a twisted version of Islam.

That is why in Singapore, we have to be careful as we have similar fault-lines that can be exploited.

People like Alfian Sa’at for example need to be careful of their irresponsible rhetoric, which allege racial discrimination against our Malay-Muslim brethren.

…The Government should watch commentators like Alfian Sa’at closely and if red lines are crossed, the use of the ISA on these domestic agitators should not be ruled out.

And then there’s this rant against the evil forces and ‘traitorous’ individuals that threaten to do Singapore (or rather, him) in, namely Kirsten Han and the folks at TOC.

…These tactics must also be fully condemned, and especially Singaporeans like Kirsten Han and the editors of TOC who would gang up with Western forces to do Singapore in. Kirsten Han especially needs to be stopped as she regularly writes for anti-Singapore publications to run us down, and to suck up to the Western liberals.

According to Cheng, enemies of the state are everywhere, not just kids with machine guns. I’m not sure such ‘right-wing’ rhetoric is becoming of a council member of the MLC. Cheng is currently a director of media company Juice Pte Ltd,  though he seems to be branding himself as a leading expert in Muslim religious affairs and terrorism with a wishlist of who should be rounded up and detained without trial.

Since he’s a fan of moral conundrum, here’s one delicious dilemma for Cheng to ponder upon: If you had young LKY tied up on a railway track and a train full of innocent children hurtling towards him, would you blow up the train given the choice?

By the way, how long is one entitled to call yourself ‘Former NMP’? I’m curious.

901 people arrested for attempted suicide in 2014

From ‘More arrested for attempting suicide’, 18 July 2015, article by Tee Zhuo, ST

More people were arrested for attempting suicide last year, according to latest police figures as of June 8. Last year, 901 people were arrested for trying to kill themselves, compared with 862 in 2013.

The 4.5 per cent increase in arrests, however, may not necessarily be a cause for alarm. Experts said the rise could be due to better intervention by third parties, such as family, friends and the police. Under Section 309 of the Penal Code, those who attempt suicide can be punished with jail for up to a year, or with a fine, or both.

…The number of suicide deaths in 2013 was 422, down from 467 the year before. Statistics for last year have yet to be released.

…While suicide is illegal, those arrested are often referred to professionals. Some are let off with a stern warning, said experts. Statistics from the State Courts show only five cases filed, with at least one charge under Section 309 of the Penal Code, last year. This figure is also the lowest in a steady decline from 16 such cases in 2010.

Lawyer Peter Ong of Templars Law believes the suicide law should be abolished as it does not serve as a deterrent. “Knowing they may be arrested if their attempt fails may push them to complete it,” said Mr Ong.

Like section 377A, the suicide law is an archaic one descended from British colonial rule. According to psychiatrist Chong Siow Ann in an ST article last year, this has roots in Christian theology, whereby St Augustine decreed that killing yourself was a ‘mortal sin’ equivalent to killing God since He made Man in His image. In a 2007 editorial, Dr Chong cites the astonishing statistic that more Singaporeans die committing suicide than from road traffic accidents every year. The rest fail miserably, and either carry on with their unhappy lives with the crutch of antidepressants, counselling, religion, or get arrested if they’re unlucky, a rare few getting charged and put on probation only after 10 unsuccessful attempts.

Which begs the question of what exactly is an ‘attempted suicide’, and how the police differentiates this  from one that is merely attention-seeking behaviour with no real intention to die. A man jumping in front of an MRT train is a clear indication, though he failed so horribly in the attempt that he only complained of ‘back pain’ after falling onto the tracks. Earlier this year, another man was arrested for sitting on a ledge and ‘dangling his legs’. It wasn’t reported if he was threatening to jump or was just there for the view.

Quarrelling couples threaten each other all the time. Antics such as raising one leg over the bedroom window, or holding the kitchen knife against one’s abdomen in the middle of a shouting match may seem more dangerous than someone perching on a ledge all by himself, but these people don’t get sent to the police station. Neither do we arrest those who pop 20 tablets of Panadol thinking it would send them into a blissful eternal sleep when all it does is send them to the hospital, if anything happens at all. One particular patient survived after swallowing 120 tablets.

A published paper explained that 3 conditions needed to be fulfilled before the state presses charges: 1) Repeated attempts 2)Wasted resources 3) When other offences are committed in the process, like injuring another person. In 2006, a man was charged based on the last criteria after falling on and breaking a girl’s leg in his misguided attempt. Both survived, partly because he jumped from the THIRD STOREY of his block.

The suicide law itself may very well be a double-edged sword, on one hand deterring those with half-hearted intent from tempting fate and allowing time for intervention, while pushing others determined enough to complete it.  Since the law is not applied most of the time, it’s probably ineffective in weeding out people who just want to mutilate themselves for sympathy and may not even be diagnosed with depression in the first place, like teens cutting their wrists and uploading their battle scars on Facebook, probably driven by the same reasons behind children their age actually taking their own lives.

Our government may even be AFRAID of repealing it in case it leads to an actual INCREASE in suicide attempts and deaths. So until there are figures that show beyond a shadow of a doubt that decriminalisation works, I doubt they’ll pull the plug on this piece of legislation.

Couple taking wedding photos with a coffin

From ‘Undertaker couple take coffin-themed wedding photos’, 12 July 2015, article by Wong Kim Hoh, Sunday Times.

…Many people will cringe and cower but Ms Jenny Tay, 29, and her fiance Darren Cheng, 30, have opted for a casket as a prop in a series of pictures taken for their wedding in October. Their reason? They are dead serious about their profession and their wedding. Both are in the funeral trade. “Our business is very much a part of our lives,” said Ms Tay, managing director of Direct Funeral Services. “When couples take wedding pictures, many of them think of something significant and meaningful to them – their favourite cafe, the place where they first met.

…Two geomancers contacted told The Sunday Times that the pictures are acceptable because of the couple’s profession. Mr Danny Cheong from Cheong Geomancy Consultancy said: “It’s all right if it’s a new coffin.”

Ms Yvonne Teh from Five Arts Geomancy Consultancy agreed and said: “Many Chinese businessmen consider coffins lucky because the Chinese word for ‘coffin’, guan cai, can also mean official and wealth. In fact, many people keep little coffins as good luck charms.

Geomancer Adelina Pang, however, said that, while the pictures are fine as keepsakes, the couple should not display them at their wedding reception. “It is taboo for many people and will turn them off,” she said.

Till death do us part

Till death do us part

Before the coffin couple decided to up the ante and bury the concept of traditional wedding photoshoots once and for all, our superstitious uncles and aunties already had grave misgivings over ‘black-themed’ weddings. In a tragic newlywed double-death in 2010, there were those who believed that the choice of colour at the wedding ‘sealed their fate’. One should also not drive anywhere near a cemetery on your big day, in case the supernatural powers that be decide to ruin it for you in the most ironic way possible – by sending your salon crashing headlong into a tombstone. That doesn’t stop come couples from taking their wedding shots in a cemetery, though. You can still have your photoshoot at Bukit Brown before it gets bulldozed over.

Bride and gloom

If not something morbidly ‘pantang’, people also tut-tut at photoshoots which were considered ‘too sexy‘. Some of these pre-nuptial erotica, instead of coming off as ‘sensual’, may turn out be a campy, unintentionally comical disaster. Like this groom rowing a wooden raft clad like he just came out of a steaming hot bath ready for sex. I have no idea what the bride is doing. Acting as a sail, perhaps.

While nervous relatives would go ‘CHOOYY!’ at the idea of a bride and groom locked in loving embrace in a coffin, one mustn’t forget that couples already spew the taboo ‘D’ word when they exchange wedding vows during solemnisation.  Death and love is a couplet celebrated in literature and poems since time immemorial. The star-crossed lovers in Romeo and Juliet were doomed from the beginning, and since then, you can’t discuss true romance without mentioning death, like wine and cheese, or steak and potatoes. Married folks talk about ‘growing old together’, and ‘holding hands’ at their deathbeds. This undertaker couple decided to embrace mortality and transform a grisly image into a declaration of, well, their undying love. In 1961, a grieving man literally married his ‘corpse bride’ before her funeral. She died in a fatal accident before what would supposedly be the happiest day of their lives. What else could you describe such an act other than that of a ‘die-hard romantic’?

Not everyone considers the final resting place before you’re burnt to ash inauspicious, though. Some choose to lie in coffins and ‘play dead’ to cleanse themselves of  ‘bad karma’. Others get excited when they see the corpse box and start scribbling down numbers for 4D. When LKY died, the numbers of the licence plate of his hearse were sold out (it was 8898, by the way). There’s no reason why Singaporeans should be uncomfortable with death, given how we like to punt around it. Couples in the same profession take shots of themselves in labs (scientists), libraries (writers), operating theatres (surgeons), or in front of a classroom blackboard (teachers). Why can’t two lovebirds in the funeral business do the same, exuding gothic chic with a coffin?

I wonder what Jenny and Darren’s wedding banquet would be like. A bride in the UK once arrived at her wedding in a coffin, herself in the funeral trade. Maybe they’ll come down the aisle in a hearse, with guests, dressed like they were going to a funeral, tossing joss paper instead of confetti. The wedding favour, instead of a boring keychain, could be a tiny tombstone, engraved with their names. The video montage, instead of a tired story of their lives from infancy to couplehood, an imagined timeline reversal from the point of their sacred union onwards, till a glorious finish, six feet under.

They should choose their guests carefully though; you don’t want that distant uncle with a bypass ending up in a coffin himself after the reception.