NDP video for cardboard, fun loving hipsters

From ‘Video for NDP theme song lacks inclusivity’, 22 June 2016, ST Forum

(Liew Kai Khiun): Although the music video for this year’s National Day Parade (NDP) theme song is made in a novel way, I am disappointed with its overall theme, which lacks purpose and inclusivity (“NDP theme song captures spirit of S’pore’s future“; Monday).

It gives the troubling impression of a Singapore of the future as a flimsy and boxed-in cardboard consumerist city-state, instead of a nation built upon real concrete and steel achievements, which characterised previous productions.

What I found more disturbing was the lack of representation and inclusivity in this production.

Although the featured band 53A has a multiracial make-up, and the performers are also multicultural, the actual footage focuses principally on lead vocalist Sara Wee. The rapidly shifting camera lens pays only passing reference to the rest of the cast, who are mainly young and able-bodied.

Over the years, there has been heightened consciousness about inclusivity in Singapore. We celebrate the achievements of female fighter pilots, scientists, Paralympians, as well as a female Speaker of Parliament.

With the elderly population growing, we are adjusting not just physical infrastructure, but also mindsets, so that seniors have a place in the Singapore of the future. Sadly, the music video for this year’s NDP theme song gives the impression that Singapore is only for the young and beautiful – defined narrowly as the cardboard, fun-loving hipster.

It is good to try out innovative artistic directions, and the production is certainly outstanding as a commercial music video. But as the video for an NDP theme song, it should encapsulate the social fabric and achievements of its citizenry, and be able to connect to the larger public in more intimate and memorable ways. One must not forget this more solemn purpose.

Another year, another complaint about an NDP song. The last time a pop-rock band tried their hand at NDP-composing (Electrico), the end product ‘What Do You See‘ was labelled as boring as Coldplay. To be fair, ‘Tomorrow Here Today’ is catchier than Dick Lee’s SG50 offering last year, though it’s clearly inspired by the rousing tracking-shot jamboree of Feist’s 1-2-3-4 only with recycled lyrics. Yes, it’s full of fun and spontaneity and if you feel oestracised by this video because you’re a grumpy introvert and shit at dancing, then that’s just too bad.

Without making any judgement of song quality, the complainant gives a scathing review of how the video is way too ‘hipster’ for his liking, and is clearly using classic propaganda fluff of the 80s and 90s as a benchmark. Videos like Count on Me Singapore and One People, One Nation, One Singapore have obligatory shots of our ‘steel and concrete’ achievements like new HDB blocks or a cruising MRT train to the tune of faceless singers. Not to mention goosebumps-inducing montages of families of different races hanging out against an unrealistic blank background with no context whatsoever. The NDP video has since evolved, from covert propaganda tool dead set on drilling multiracial harmony into your brains to something with more pop culture leanings, yet still struggling to keep up with the times. At least we try.

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The ‘cardboard’ reference is also taking things way too literally. What’s intended as a stylish prop is viewed as a metaphor for our ‘flimsiness’. It’s an NDP video, not contemporary art. I’m not going to watch it and go ‘Hmm, that stool floating in the air is a symbol of how we have become ‘unseated’ from our roots’. For every viewer who associates a shot of our MBS or our MRT network with progress there are others who’re given a sombre reminder of the raw wilderness that we’ve lost for the sake of dollars and cents instead.

But do we really need another video full of stereotypical ‘solemn purpose’? Does anyone still care about NDP songs anyway? Why can’t we have some sass for change, like this super non-inclusive video featuring 3 divas competing for everyone’s attention. By the way, hard to believe that this video is 17 DAMN YEARS OLD!

If Singaporeans need an annual reminder in the form of an all-inclusive NDP video to connect them to the ‘larger public in more intimate ways’, then it would be a pretty sad affair. For all the social media slugfests that we have to deal with, the occasional 1 minute video of ordinary Singaporeans helping each other out in situational crises is far more meaningful than a supercut of all the NDP videos in history lumped together, an audio-visual monstrosity best utilised in a cold interrogation chamber to dig info out of people who breach Cooling Off Day.

Besides, if you want to put in a token shot of old people doing taijiquan or a Paralympian blazing past the finish line, why stop there? You can’t call for catch-all inclusivity and cherry-pick Singaporeans from specific walks of life.  You need the good, the bad and the ugly to provide a complete ‘representation’ of society. Here’s a list of people noticeably absent from any NDP video, even if they’re as Singaporean as you and I. I’d be only too happy to be proven wrong.

  1. Cardboard collecting aunties
  2.  Cat-feeding aunties
  3.  Ah Bengs with tattoos/ex-convicts
  4.  Cross-dressers/LGBT
  5.  Opposition party members
  6.  Instagram Influencers
  7. Lawrence Khong
  8. Street artists
  9. Motorcycle gangs
  10. Actual hipsters

So if this year’s focus is on ‘the young and beautiful’, then so be it. Because that is exactly what Singapore is – a still young, beautiful nation. Next year, let’s have Uncle Sim leading the chorus shall we?

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Madonna performing for the first time in Singapore

From ‘Madonna could perform in Singapore for the first time’, 29 Nov 2015, article by Jermyn Chow, ST

Queen of pop Madonna, who was banned from performing her controversial Girlie Show World Tour here in 1993, seems set to strut her stuff in Singapore for the very first time.

Home-grown concert promoter IMC Live told The Sunday Times it is in talks to bring the 57-year-old American star’s ongoing Rebel Heart tour here for a one-night concert for 30,000 at the National Stadium.

…For the Singapore gig to be given the go-ahead this time, The Sunday Times understands some songs may have to be dropped from the setlist.

Bitch, it’s Madonna, the only singer to continue chart-topping since the Michael Jackson ‘King of Pop’ era. I was a casual fan in the 80’s, when she brought the world timeless ballads like ‘Live to Tell’, ‘Crazy for you’ and sugary pop gems like ‘Holiday’ and ‘Open Your Heart’. She was Material Girl, Madge, Maddie, sex kitten, goddess, Kaballah practitioner all at once. When you look up ‘raunchy’ in the dictionary, you will find Madonna in a bustier.

She has come a long way since the days of the conical bra and Vogue. Things spiralled downhill after she remade American Pie. Today, she struggles to keep up with the Youtube and Spotify generation, sometimes ending up like the Auntie in denial gatecrashing a dubstep party when she should really should be line-dancing. Her ‘Bitch I’m Madonna’ collaboration with Nicky Minaj is a case in point. Most singers her age would be more comfortable dueting with the Bee Gees instead.

Despite attempts to stay edgy and relevant, Madonna remains revered among the Pop Princess sorority, from the Britney Spearses to the Arianna Grandes. No one denies her accomplishments, but as iconic as she is, the fate of the Rebel Heart Tour remains at the mercy of the MDA, and a certain lot of Singaporeans among our midst who will stop at nothing to ban her from these shores,  the very same people who signed petitions against openly gay Adam Lambert from performing at the Jubilee Year End concert.

Other than being an active promoter of the LGBT cause, there are several more reasons why Madonna may find herself ‘Swept Away’ by the prudish powers that be.

  1. Hentai Demon Rape

In 2002, the ‘Drowned World Tour 2001′ DVD was banned for sale here as it featured an animation sequence of a monster raping an ‘Asian looking girl’. You can, of course, find the link to the video on Youtube.

2. Insulting Christianity

Another DVD ban. In the ‘Confessions’ tour, Madonna sang ‘Live to Tell’ while strung up on a cross.  This coming from the same woman who brought us the blasphemous ‘Like a Prayer’ video, where the cross was sexualised as a cleavage accessory to black lacy lingerie. And that was in 1989, way before Lady Gaga bugged the Christian community with less spicy stuff like ‘Judas’.

3. Random violence against men

The Guy Ritchie-directed video ‘What it Feels like For a Girl‘ was banned in 2001 because it depicted Madonna going on a misandrist rampage. An advisory warning by MDA alone would not be enough to protect our local men from being castrated on site if all the ladies in the house transform into Amazonian cannibals.

4. Lesbian kissing

This.

5. Drug references

One of Madonna’s more recent albums was titled MDNA, which is one letter away from controlled drug MDMA. You may know it as Ecstasy.

6. Kinky BDSM and Androgyny

Till today, the steamy Justify My Love video continues to stir loins. 20 years later we would have Fifty Shades of Grey. How many more reasons do we need to justify her ban?

If all goes well, we could have the first almost-sexagenarian to perform to a sold-out crowd in Singapore. Toned down or not, Madonna could earn more from this single show than all the Air Supply concerts combined.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lingo Lingo music video not reflecting Singaporean way of life

From ‘Still no go for Lingo’, 22 Aug 15, article in TNP

…The video was uploaded onto YouTube on Aug 4. It features Ah Boys To Men star Tosh Zhang, local singer-actor Bunz and their entourage flanked by a fleet of supercars and sexy girls in lingerie, rapping about Singlish.

It was criticised by some netizens, who said it did not reflect Singaporeans’ way of life as it promoted a super luxurious lifestyle with scenes of well-dressed young people hanging out by a private jet.

Lingo Lingo Where You Go was screened for free at the National Library on July 25. The short film, which cost close to $100,000 to make, is about a man who wakes up from a 10-year coma to a world of unfamiliar Singlish terms and phrases.

…Freelance model-actress Melody Low, 22, who is the main female star in the video, is not affected by the negative feedback. She told TNP: “It is quite common these days for people to have differing views as they have different tastes and mindsets.

“Some netizens say that the Lamborghinis do not represent Singaporeans. However, we are a First World country and Singapore has one of the highest rate of people buying supercars, so I think it is okay.”

Melody doesn’t do much except pout and preen for a few seconds in the Lingo video, though what she said about supercar ownership in Singapore is not too far off the mark. For anyone familiar with the rap genre, it’s all about swag posturing with fast cars, bling, babes and booty. You even have a singer in there who calls himself ‘Bunz’. Definitely not something to sign off graffiti with. If the private jet scenes look familiar, it’s because the director was clearly inspired by the video for ‘I Want it That Way’ by the Backstreet Boys. Well at least it’s not THESE dandy guys rapping instead.

Some of the verses in here are truly cringeworthy, like ‘Wassup Lah Leh Lor’, or ‘I love my Singlish like my Ferrari/Just like my mee rebus, teh peng and curry’. The problem with the video is not the blatant ripoff from Fast and Furious, the use of Autotune, or Bunz singing about his Ferrari, but that ‘Lingo Lingo’ takes itself way too seriously.  And ironically, this vulgar glamourisation of Singlish would be an effective way of getting Singaporeans to STOP using it, whether its echo is louder than the Lambo or not. And nothing irritates me more than the cocky vroom vroom of a supercar on a small street. Kao peh la!

Here’s a curious history of the genre known as ‘Singlish rap’, ranked in ascending order of personal preference. Note that this is not ‘Singaporean rap’, but rap incorporating elements of Singlish (lingo, intonation) and inevitably some low-brow humour. So the unwatchable MDA rap is thankfully excluded.

Special mentions:

An interesting companion to the ‘Lingo Lingo Where you Go’ video, where Mr Brown and his podcast gang lament about COE and ERP. Or should I say, the E to the R to the P.

A rap about not wearing pants. Not much different from most commercial rap songs nowadays.

6. ‘Excuse me ah, while I give you a kick!’ – PCK (A happy journey starts like that, 2009)

The irony of this public service announcement rap is that it’s not typically Singlish to say ‘Hey you over there’. In terms of effectiveness, this video did nothing in terms of commuter graciousness, but it paved the way for the Dim Sum Dollies. Phua Chu Kang also appears more than once in this list. Which says a lot about the genre.

5. ‘Some say Leh, Some say Lah’ – PCK (The Sar-vivor rap, 2003)

Here’s PCK again telling you wash your hands to ward off SARS. Unfortunately people remember the ‘some say lah/leh’ lyric more than the rest of the stuff that’s actually important. Yes, there’s an album for this, and ‘lah leh lor’ is still as frequently used as ever. ‘Don’t be a Regretter’, thankfully, didn’t ‘Sar-vive’ as a catchphrase for long. The lingo Gods have spoken.

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4. ‘I’m just a recruit so I really bobian’ – Recruits’ Anthem, Ah Boys To Men

Another Tosh Rock rap from the Ah Boys soundtrack. Propaganda much. Retired generals can use this as their entrance song when they conduct rallies.

3. ‘Some say we kiasu, some say we kiasi’ – Limpeh, Shigga Shay (2013)

The above line sounds like a nod to the SARS rap, but this is a better effort from Tosh Rock, who guest stars on this track. I suspect the reason why this put ‘Lion City Kia’ Shigga Shay firmly in the limelight is that it’s rapped mostly in Hokkien. Of course it would be even funnier if veteran actor Richard Low performs this. He’s totally wasted on Tanglin.

2. ‘No chai tau quay then kai fan lor’ – Rasa Sayang, Dick Lee (1989)

Moe Alkaff is hilarious here. The Singaporean-ness is strong on this one, though it comes from a musician who’s not exactly known for busting gangsta rhymes. Apparently in the late eighties, according to Dick, ‘life is like a holi-holiday’. We also could afford pagers and ‘cordless’ phones. However, it mentions Sang Nila Utama and Raffles, not no LKY. WHHHYYY.

1.’I always give you chocolate, I give you my Tic Tac, but now you got a Kit Kat, you never give me back’ – Why you so like that, Kopi Kat Klan (1991)

The mutha of all Singlish rap. Charming, timeless and sibei funny.

Jolin Tsai’s gay wedding video banned by MDA

From ‘Singapore bans Jolin Tsai’s MV’, 24 May 2015, article by Heidi Hsia, Yahoo News.

Taiwanese media reported that Jolin Tsai’s song and music video, “We’re All Different, Yet The Same”, has been banned in Singapore. According to Mingpao News, the Media Development Authority (MDA) has sent ban notices to television and radio stations in the country so as not to air the song or the music video.

It was reported that the song has been banned because of the lyrics that encourage the pursuit of equal rights of marriage for the LGBTI community, which conflicts with the laws in Singapore.

…The music video for “We’re All Different, Yet The Same” was inspired by the story of a lesbian couple who has been together for 30 years. It features a wedding scene between Jolin and featured Taiwanese actress Ruby Lin.

UPDATE 25 May 2015: MDA has clarified that the song is not ‘banned’ here, but rather ‘allowed with the requisite age rating and consumer advice’, yet it has also advised broadcasters not to play the track or the video on channels that are ‘freely assessed’ by younger viewers due to ‘mature content’. I wonder what it does mean, however, when an actual ban is in force. I suppose it means you can’t download it from the internet, order the album/single online, sing it as karaoke or do a cover of it and upload your version. Youtube doesn’t even seek an age verification from you before streaming it, though. And you can still listen to F-bomb loaded rap songs about random raping in Forever 21. ‘Allowed with age rating and advice’ begs the basic question of, well, allowed WHERE exactly.

Jolin’s video raises an interesting question about the gay stigma and the institution of marriage: If you do not have family or relatives to make a critical life-or-death medical directive on your behalf, can your partner do it instead? Also, it has two women kissing. Beautiful women kissing, may I add.

Alas, MDA doesn’t care about ethical debates and only axes stuff if it gets them hot under the collar and breaches their own guidelines. They somehow decided on the sly that a video depicting gay marriage is not quite the ‘right thing’ that our population should be viewing. The fact that it was not released as a media statement like how they shut down A-Mei’s Rainbow suggests that they had intended to contain their act of censorship before it turned viral, knowing full well that one, people won’t be too happy about it, and two, anything banned by MDA will be inevitably the most searched and shared item on Youtube and Google.

If it does eventually blow up, they’d be forced to issue a press release giving the same old same old, and by that time hordes of K-box enthusiasts would have already put Jolin’s song at the top of their weekend singalong playlist, crying at the end of it because it tells such a touching story about love in a short few minutes, and also in shame because Singapore’s probably the only country to ban it. And sneakily too.

As a media ‘development’ authority, however, they continue to severely underestimate how the ‘media’ works. Some years back, a couple of Mediacorp actresses sprung a kinky surprise on the broadcaster by kissing each other on the mouths during a live telecast of the Star Awards. The re-run was censored, but everyone who went nuts over the girl-on-girl action just wanted to replay the kiss in slow motion on Youtube. Who cares who got into Top 10 list of Most Popular Actresses? Katy Perry’s ‘I Kissed a Girl’ was also reportedly banned from airwaves, but she JUST PERFORMED the damn song here earlier this month during her Prismatic tour.

In fact, some of the kisses that we DO allow in M18 movies are hotter and wetter than the chaste wedding peck between Ruby Lin and Jolin Tsai. Some movies that do not involve lesbian sex at all get severely restricted because they feature gay families doing stuff that normal families do. At least NLB got more proactive after the penguin debacle. MDA can’t make up its mind if lesbians french-kissing or a loving couple in matching wedding outfits is more objectionable.

MDA also doesn’t care that Singaporeans read widely enough to know that marriage equality is happening in developed countries all over the globe, that we don’t need a controversial touchy-feely video to tell us why it’s worth supporting, even if the government maintains its ‘conservative’ stance. Even the ST has no qualms about publishing an article about Ivan Heng being a happily, married man, notwithstanding that it was a gay marriage. Moral of that story? Find happiness, screw the haters. Apparently MDA thinks this message is as dangerous as someone teaching you how to rig a drone with explosives and fly it into a government building.

So there is a ‘light touch’ after all when it comes to banning LGBT anthems, so light in fact it hardly made a sound, like a tip-toeing ninja assassin in the night, but soon caught out like a cowardly rabbit in the headlights.

SG50 song As One written by a non-Singaporean

From ‘Lawrence Wong clarifies issue of song supposedly rejected by SG50’, 7 March 2015, article in asiaone

Ministers Lawrence Wong and Tan Chuan-Jin have praised an original song written for the SG50 celebrations and uploaded onto YouTube. Titled ‘As One‘, the song was uploaded by Sophie’s World Productions in January. B oth Ministers praised the song in separate Facebook posts. Mr Wong said the song was “was very well-done and inspiring”, while Mr Tan said that it was ” a very nice song”.

The Ministers also said they had received feedback that the song had been rejected as an official SG50 song because it was not written by a Singaporean. Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong said that he was initially puzzled by this and asked ministry staff to check on what happened. In his post, Mr Wong clarified that the song was submitted to MediaCorp, which held its own song competition with its own rules. “But competition aside, there’s really no limitation on who can contribute songs or other materials for SG50,” he said.

If asked to name one all-time classic National Day song, most Singaporeans are likely to say ‘Stand Up for Singapore’, ‘Count On Me Singapore, ‘Home’ or  ‘We Are Singapore’. Of the 4, 3 were actually written by Canadian Hugh Harrison. And those are the ones with ‘Singapore’ in their titles. The most forgettable one in the history of NDP songs, in my opinion, was performed by Singapore Idol himself Hady Mirza, called ‘Shine for Singapore’. Hady Who? Some, like ‘One Singapore‘ are memorable for all the wrong reasons.

‘As One’ definitely belongs in the top 3 for the Gift of Song competition. It surpasses most of the recent NDP efforts, including ‘In a Heartbeat’ and ‘Love at first Light’, if you even recall what those are. But let’s look at the official finalists of the competition:

1) We Are Stars

This is a slow, soppy ballad with the self-congratulatory chorus:

We are stars
We are golden
We are comets in our skies.

This is probably the first time I’ve heard someone use ‘comet’ in any patriotic song. Like comets, a great song comes our way once every few hundred years. It also has the lyric ‘We are diamonds in the sky’. So which is it, are we gold or are we diamonds in the sky? Hady’s effort, if there’s any consolation, sounds like Hey Jude compared to this far-from-stellar snooze-fest. If this were a ‘gift’, it’d be the equivalent of an ugly Christmas sweater. Knit with love, but received with a painful grimace. Next.

2) These Are the Days

The chorus: These are the days, to breathe and feel.

Is there ANY day that we DON’T breathe and feel? This has an annoying, repetitive weepy riff and a whiny crescendo. Am I the only one who finds this entry, awash with pandering strings, grating and trying too hard to sound like a national anthem? Despite the arrangement, it doesn’t make me feel things, and I lost all interest when Farisha sang ‘Spread my wings and fly’. Better Midler’s Wing Beneath My Wings was clearly an inspiration. Incidentally, for this SG50 contest, 9 submissions were from prison inmates.  Maybe they didn’t make the cut because of one too many ‘spread my wings and fly’.

3) Being Here

One word: Coldplay. The lyrics are safe, it’s upbeat, no cringe-worthy metaphors and the writers, Ciao Turtle, have the greatest band name in the history of local bands. This wins my vote, though it’s still far from the cheesy infectiousness of Harrison’s greatest hits. I’d like to see them do normal pop songs, though. Or consider forming a supergroup called Ciao Turtle and Ah Boys to Men.

Despite the common theme among all these songs being how happy and proud we all are to stay in this country, it’s obvious that no matter how catchy they are, they fail miserably as propaganda tools, given that the number of Singaporeans moving abroad has been increasing over the years, 212,000 to be precise. This excluding of course, those banished from the country for ‘political crimes’. Indeed, quite a number of us are ‘stars’. In the sense that they’re so very far away.

Future Music festival banned because of drugs

From ‘Future Music Festival Asia’s appeal for permit denied’, 7 March 2015, article in CNA

Future Music Festival Asia’s appeal for a permit has not been approved, the Ministry of Home Affairs said in a statement on Friday (Mar 6).  “The Minister for Home Affairs has carefully considered and turned down the appeal by Livescape Singapore to hold the Future Music Festival Asia 2015 in Singapore,” said MHA in a statement. It said the appeal was received on Mar 3, and the outcome was conveyed to organisers Livescape Singapore on Mar 6.

Livescape Singapore, which has sold about 15,000 of the 20,000 tickets available for the two-day festival, previously submitted applications for a public entertainment licence to the police in January and last month, but was rejected both times. Police cited “serious concerns” over potential drug abuse at the event.

…The festival, which had a three-year run in Kuala Lumpur, has been marred by drug problems. Concert organisers had to put a stop to the event on its third day last year, after six Malaysians died of drug overdose and another 16 people were hospitalised for drug-related reasons.

Several Singaporeans were also hospitalised after a suspected drug overdose. Two were later charged for drug offences in Kuala Lumpur.

In Parliament on Friday, Senior Minister of State Masagos Zulkifli said that the Government is “keeping an eye” on music events, over concerns of potential drug abuse at such festivals.

In 1970, Woodstock: THE MOVIE was banned in Singapore. No official reasons were given then, but for a nation that also banned Puff the Magic Dragon, it became clear that the censors deemed Woodstock as not only a vile gathering of unsavoury, promiscuous, slovenly hippie characters who strut around nude, but also as a rock bacchanalia promoting and glamourising drug use.

Then ‘electronic music’ in the form of techno/trance arrived on the scene, and the Ecstasy-fuelled ‘rave party’ was born. Not only was such head-bobbing monotonous music conducive to getting high or stoned, it also served as a mantric, vulgar call to arms for secret society hooligans, as depicted in Royston Tan’s ’15’.

We mananged to keep Zoukout in check though, thanks to an army of security officers, though that didn’t stop people from falling into the sea and drowning, or getting molested. In fact, the risk of getting drunk or groped, whether it’s a rave or a state-sponsored New Year countdown, is higher than you slipping into a psychedelic death trance after popping some fun pills.

Zoukout isn’t all that innocent as we might think. Some folks have called for a total ban on that as well, for promoting a hedonistic lifestyle, spreading STDs and encouraging people to have random sex on the beach. The Zouk management insisted that this was the work of a few black sheep, and we shouldn’t allow such ugly incidents to taint the image of Singapore as THE nightlife destination in all of South East Asia.

Not that drug abuse isn’t already happening anyway. If you can’t drop some ketamine or mephedrone at beach festivals, you can always do it in the clubs, or ‘house parties’, where you don’t have nosy bouncers or undercover cops poking into your business all the time. This isn’t the first time we’ve deemed music a threat to public order and civilization as we know it. We’ve pressed the mute button for Thaipusam festivals, for example.

If it’s not due to knee-jerk ‘serious concerns’ over drug use, we also have zero tolerance towards artistes promoting the ‘gay lifestyle’. In 2005, an Action for Aids charity concert Affect05 was banned because it featured a gay couple as lead singers. Some Christians were aghast that openly gay Adam Lambert was performing in Singapore. Taiwanese veteran Ah Mei was banned from performing ‘Rainbow’ at Gardens by the Bay. It appears that succumbing to toxic hallucinations from Avicii-induced euphoria is just as bad as having the idea drilled into your head that ‘gay is OK’.

Maybe we should ban the Laneway festival as well, for turning our clean and green Singapore into a hideous ‘garbage city‘. Not to mention K-pop boyband concerts, for inducing cult-like behaviour. How about F1 concerts? In 2013, mega superstar Rihanna was allegedly high on weed while lip-synching on stage. Think of the harm this would do to her teenage fans! It’s been a while since we’ve seen the ‘Stomp!’ troupe performing in Singapore. Maybe we secretly banned them because they encouraged people to pick up random trash cans and sticks off the street and raise a ruckus, fooling the police into thinking that a riot is happening. And finally Sentosa New Year countdown parties too, because we don’t want women to get gang-raped in full public view.

What we’ll have left is ‘good clean,  wholesome, drug-free fun’, like Air Supply or Kenny Rogers in concert, where you’ll be exposed to love ballads about the sun and the rain and not think about getting high on marijuana at all.

UPDATE 9 March 2015: FMFAsia is officially cancelled. You could say it won’t be coming our way anymore in the near..future.

Playing musical instruments banned during Thaipusam

From ‘Ban on playing music at Thaipusam aimed at ensuring peaceful procession:Iswaran’ 5 Feb 2015, article in ST

The ban on playing music at the annual Thaipusam procession was introduced because of past incidents of fights breaking out between competing groups which disrupted the procession, said Second Minister for Home Affairs S. Iswaran. The ban, which has been in place since 1973, also applies to all processions, and not just Thaipusam, Mr Iswaran told reporters.

Given that Thaipusam is the longest foot procession in Singapore which goes through major roads in the heart of the city, it is even more important to make sure that the procession is conducted in a peaceful manner, he added.

…His comments followed the arrest of three Singaporean men over a scuffle that broke out on Tuesday evening during the annual Thaipusam procession. Police said organisers had asked a group of people to stop playing traditional Indian drums as it was not allowed under the event’s police permit.

Following the incident, some have questioned the ban on musical instruments at the annual procession. Responding to this, Mr Iswaran said the authorities have in fact made special concessions for Thaipusam and a couple of other Hindu foot processions, pointing out that there is a ban on religious foot processions, which has been in force since 1964 following “some very bad episodes and experiences“.

Back in 1981, the police had a different explanation for the banning of music from religious foot processions, that it wasn’t so much the music itself that was disrupting the peace or inciting people to beat the hell out of each other like alcohol does, but that it moved people to DANCE all over the streets and block traffic in their spiritual ecstasy. The 1973 ban, of course, didn’t stop people from bringing on the bongos still, and things got ugly when the police tried to seize drums from participants in the 80s, with one cop suffering a black eye for performing his party-pooping duties.

‘Musical instruments’ back then included portable radios and cassette players, and I’m not sure if the police would swoop in to restore order and silence if devotees were playing ukeleles, harps or doing mass accapella instead. In 1984, there were Thaipusam near-fatalities after a fight and stabbing in Serangoon, music or no music. The ST did not mention if those involved ‘smelt of alcohol’. Nor did anyone consider the possible theory that maybe it’s not thumping music or dancing that’s responsible for a religious procession turning into a Little India riot. Maybe it’s, I dunno, dangerous WEAPONS perhaps? Instead of looking for parangs, the police are raiding boom boxes. If someone rolled in a grand piano, they may just gun the damn thing down before it hypnotises people into a murderous trance. It gives new meaning to the term ‘killer beats’.

The penalty for holding a parade without permit in honour of some deity’s birthday, Hindu or not, can earn you a $1000 fine, or up to 3 months jailtime back in 1989. The police won’t do anything, however, if you decide to hold a funeral bash, banging drums, gongs and cymbals included, for a deceased loved one. Best not to anger the spirit of a dead grandmother I suppose, compared to say Lord Muruga or the Monkey God.

It’s interesting how it’s only parades on foot that are illegal. What if I went around on top of a tooting bus cheering at the top of my lungs in a victory dance interfering in people’s business and getting them to wave at me? Wait, you mean this has actually happened before? With no police around to grab people’s loudhailers and telling truck drivers to STFU with their horning? The audacity!