Have politicians been setting a good example? A pandemic timeline.

st_20200414_dameet14a_55970502

On Sunday April 12, five days after Singapore’s effective lockdown (known as circuit breaker) began, Chia Shi-Lu, a politician with the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP), visited the Alexandra Village Food Centre.

“We were not doing a walkabout, we were there to tell people to wear masks when serving and please wear masks, it was more an education thing,” was Chia’s response.

Strange, then, that Chia, a medical doctor, chose to perform this selfless act accompanied by an entourage, including a prospective political candidate and a photo journalist from Lianhe Zaobao, a government-controlled Chinese newspaper.

Continue reading “Have politicians been setting a good example? A pandemic timeline.”

Ode to Mustafa

Forget the Hawker Centre. If you want to observe what some might call Singaporean integration—others inequality—visit Mustafa. Go at six on a Monday morning to see Mrs Nose Up-in-the-air, striding confidently to the daun kusum aka laksa leaves for her famous home-made laksa for her lunchtime group of tai tais who these days are called investors. If she returned at three on a Sunday afternoon, … Continue reading Ode to Mustafa

Some recent corona-related writing

6943968516_1227579dc3_o

Photo by Rob O’Brien/Flickr

Dear reader, if you follow me on Facebook you might find the below repetitive. This is mostly for the benefit of those who don’t.

It’s been a busy month, as many of us have felt the need to speak up about the horrible COVID-19 crisis at Singapore’s migrant worker dormitories—what I have called “independent Singapore’s biggest ever humanitarian crisis”, a phrase that has been picked up. Good.

There has also been a lot associated racism and xenophobia.

Writing has been especially taxing because assorted censors have sprung up all around society, seeking to shut us up. My posts below, some satire, touch on these aspects.

Thankfully there has also been a lot of support from readers. Much appreciated!

***

Singapore: Let’s not ignore the downtrodden; nor those who speak up for them

On April 9th I published a commentary in New Naratif about the migrant worker crisis. First few paragraphs here:

Singapore has rightly won plaudits for its pandemic response thus far. Yet the recent emergence of clusters of infections at four foreign-worker dormitories shows that complacency is creeping in. What can we learn from this episode?

Continue reading “Some recent corona-related writing”

Why I have yet to install TraceTogether, Singapore’s COVID-19 contact tracing app

In a perfect world with complete trust in Government, every Singaporean would download the TraceTogether App to assist in national COVID-19 contact tracing efforts. Thus it is unfortunate that some of us do not yet have the requisite level of trust. Unfortunate firstly because it seems like our brilliant techies engineered an app that has sufficient safeguards for those concerned about government surveillance. The location … Continue reading Why I have yet to install TraceTogether, Singapore’s COVID-19 contact tracing app

Comrade Gorbachev Marx Homas, son, brother and adventurer, 2010-2020

Gorby_P1040366

Two years ago, when Li Ling, the kids and I moved out of my parents house in Bukit Timah to our own flat in Pasir Ris, it was hardest on Gorby.

Ling and I had the benefit of time, foreknowledge, active hands in the process. Blooby, Gorby’s sister, had by then retreated to a familiar sedentary life of eat, sleep, and the occasional lizard, dragged in leaving a trail of blood, body parts strewn across the terrazzo floor.

But Gorby was still Mr Bukit Timah. We would spot him prancing around the actual Bukit Timah Road, near the Tessarina Apartments and Tan Chong Motors, a full two-hundred metres from our house. Unlike us, Gorby had two channels of entry/exit: regular sidewalk when pesky humans weren’t around, or the wide drain when we were.

Once Gorby went missing for a full eighteen hours. It was his first full night out. We grew anxious. When he returned the next morning, smelling of stale beer and garbage, I saw my younger self in him, remembering my own adolescent nights of too many Graveyards at Zouk, slobbering up the driveway after stumbling out of the cab.

Continue reading “Comrade Gorbachev Marx Homas, son, brother and adventurer, 2010-2020”

Chan Chun Sing, our beng?

ccs_0

Everybody I know who knows Chan Chun Sing likes him.

Smart, folksy, straight-talker, authentic, humble beginnings, frugal, hard worker who tirelessly works the ground, all well known attributes. I like his accent and liberal use of colloquialisms.

I have enjoyed stories about how he likes driving his security detail around (rather than being driven) and how, in conversations with elite civil servants, he has championed the need to cultivate closer ties with our immediate neighbours, Malaysia and Indonesia, an issue close to my heart.

All that gives me reason for pause when critiquing CCS. In the ivory tower that writers sometimes appear to occupy, one invariably wonders about the image of a person that the media projects. CCS is not the bumbling buffoon caricatured by his kee chiu antics, something I’ve heard many times.

Yet, as with most things, Continue reading “Chan Chun Sing, our beng?”

Singapore leads the world in coronavirus fight

Ruling party politician sanitises public housing lifts Every day Singapore’s leaders make great sacrifices for the people. The Honourable MP Low Yen Ling (middle) is seen spending a Saturday guiding a seven-person team through the intricate task of cleaning an elevator. To the Honourable MP’s right are three South Asian workers. They are wearing imported sneakers that their cousins working in Qatar cannot afford. They … Continue reading Singapore leads the world in coronavirus fight

Corona notes from the Singaporean backline

Image credit: Twitter/@ikansumbat – Why the fascination with comparing ourselves to other countries and one-upping them? I’ve seen numerous HK vs Singapore comparisons, from Singaporeans, Bloomberg et al, that fail to acknowledge basic differences. A tad ignorant and lazy. Do look at a map. And conduct a thought experiment. Imagine if the virus emerged not in Wuhan, but in peninsular Malaysia. And that there was … Continue reading Corona notes from the Singaporean backline

a longform on Hong Kong vs Singapore

JoshuaWong_20191005_174955

With Joshua Wong, secretary-general of pro-democracy party Demosistō. We were both speaking at The Economist’s Open Future Festival in Hong Kong on Oct 5th 2019.

Dear friends, I just published a piece on Rice Media where I compare Hong Kong and Singapore, the “socio-economic twins but political opposites”. Click to read it there. Or, for a preview, first few paragraphs below.

***

Just don’t wear black. In early October that was the pre-arrival instruction I received from friends enmeshed in that modern urban war zone, Hong Kong.

“Don’t worry, you can wear black, nobody will think you are a protestor,” rebutted Tang, the jovial cabby in his fifties who picked me up from the airport, gesturing at my brown skin. But for Cantonese locals like him, wardrobe options have indeed become limited.

Continue reading “a longform on Hong Kong vs Singapore”