In mid 2012, when the late SR Nathan, Singapore’s former president (1999-2011), agreed to be the guest of honour at the launch of my first book, “Floating on a Malayan Breeze: Travels in Malaysia and Singapore“, I was delighted.
Mr President! Presiden! 总统 ! ஜனாதிபதி !
Actually, I hate honorifics. Continue reading “President Nathan and polarisation in Singapore”
In response to a recent NYT piece, “A Sudden Coronavirus Surge Brought Out Singapore’s Dark Side”. I am glad to see others taking the time to write about us, there is always something to learn. Nevertheless, if you allow me to put on my editor’s hat for a moment, I have two thematic critiques of the piece: A) Feeding the impression that Singapore is an … Continue reading Response to NYT piece on Singapore
PAP politicians Sun Xueling and Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim handing out reusable masks to the homeless in Potong Pasir on April 29th 2020, during Singapore’s circuit breaker (effective lockdown) and more than two weeks after the party officially stopped all ground activities. Dear friends in Singapore, below is the last piece I intend to write on pandemic politicking. It is an open letter that I have … Continue reading Pandemic politicking: an open letter to a minister
Dear friends in Singapore, I am writing because there appears to be an uptick in anti-South Asian prejudice recently, and I hope the moderate and sane among you can do what you can to extinguish little fires if and when you see them. Seemingly harmless statements like “Eh, why Indians again ah?”, if left unchecked, can lead to resentment, if even in the smallest, most … Continue reading Rising anti-Indian sentiment in Singapore
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.”
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
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”
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
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”
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?”