This past Sunday, old Raffles Number 8 and my good buddy Kuang Yuan managed to score some VIP passes for the Singapore Cricket Club (SCC) Rugby 7s at the Padang, Singapore’s famous green that sits in front of our City Hall.
Views: You really get to appreciate Singapore’s mix of modern and colonial architecture. St. Andrew’s Cathedral, City Hall, Suntec City, The Durians etc. etc. Really is quite stunning, and also perhaps a more attractive backdrop than cities like New York and Hong Kong, which are so crammed that they feel too claustrophobic. I’m a big fan of our urban planners.
It was a rollicking good time, great rugby, as the Fijians won again,
much to our delight, though we wished the others put up more of a
fight. Free Heineken beer, always a good thing, served by Hooters
girls no less. At the risk of exposing my superficial bastardness, the
average Singaporean girl does not a quintessential Hooter make. Pretty
in their own right, just not a Hooter.
Beer, good looking women and rugby. What more could we want? Alas, my
social justice radar couldn’t be turned off.
We had the fortune to sit in the Sponsor’s booth. Big companies had
paid top dollar for a weekend out for employees and honored guests. I,
somehow, was one of the latter. At most events, I’m used to small
Sponsor’s Booths and Large general admission areas. Not here. There
clearly seemed to be more people in the VIP Sponsor’s Booths than
everywhere else around the field.
Here’s the kicker – about 90% of the people in the Sponsor’s Booth
were Ang Moh. Gweilo. Mat Salleh. Expats. Nothing wrong with that,
really. They are nice folk. They probably work (or are guests of) big
rugby-loving companies. And they’re in Singapore. Why shouldn’t they
No reason. Except that KY (yes, he’s used to the lubricant jokes) and
I felt slightly out of place after, oh, 5 minutes. There we were, in
the ‘exclusive’ VIP booth, surrounded by expats, taking in the show,
while the other Singaporeans were either serving us icy beer, cute
sandwiches and fried wontons or sweating it out in the ‘General
Admission’ stands below.
The Irrational Nationalist in us screamed for us to stop sleeping with
the enemy and join our brethren in the pits below. Nah, free beer too
There was nothing morally wrong or illegal going on really. It was
just one of those moments in life where you take a step back, look at
how things are….and wonder how far we’ve come from colonialism…how
far we’ve come from Orientalism…whether we’re living in a system
that really lets the disadvantaged raise themselves up….or one
that’s just going to perpetuate the madness. (Yikes! I probably sound
like a flaming Berkeleyan Communist now….don’t take that last line
at face value. Just a musing)
Big show was on at the Padang, our Padang. Singaporeans hardly in
sight. Foreigners partying it up. A service-oriented country?
Will continue with another post about my Singaporean friends’
attitudes towards and perceptions of foreigners, which i find
illuminating and disturbing…