BY X'HO

"Govt will not let pilots ‘do $ingapore in’: DPM" was the top headline on Nov 29, 2003 (The Straits Times). It referred to the SIA-pilots’ union’s "resentment (that) SIA announced a stunning $306-million profit for the second quarter" (in 2003) after "wage cuts and layoffs" were made on SIA crew at the height of the Sars scourge. "No one should doubt the Govt’s resolve in wanting to maintain and preserve our industrial peace," an acting manpower minister said. Of course, we know that to mean no one could or can.

So it’s all come to light, the rationale behind that big question — are you ($ingaporeans) ready to die for your country? Put in that SIA-union context, the question should read: "Hey, hi-flying pilot-dudes, are you ready to sacrifice for your country?" The original question, then, wasn’t so much a question as a manpowered nudge on what you should take to heart if you know what’s good for you. Or as Chua Mui Hoong trumpeted on Dec 20, 2003 in her ST Insight essay — "Being kiasu and kancheong are all right, but let’s not be kiasi".

That’s so true! How else can the State know of your citizenry allegiance if you don’t avail yourself to die for it? After all, everyone here — and we do mean every ONE — is sooo kiasu already. (A good rationale for transparency, yeah?) Without some deaths, or at best — sacrifices, how can we secure the all-important "industrial peace"? Or social peace or cultural peace or national peace (I’m sure we can think of a hundred more peaces whenever for whatever). See the importance of being kancheong now?

"NAC lifts rule on scriptless art forms" (ST, Nov 28, 2003). Now, would you have thought that the news item there also refers to performance art? Never mind the scrupulous headline, read the report: "The National Arts Council is funding a forum theatre play as well as a performance art event (by Dramabox), lifting a 10-year no-funding rule on the two scriptless art forms." (Eh, not that during those 10 years, one could stage performance art even without funding, lah. The report was not transparently stated enough, leh!).

"The Council’s move follows the Govt’s acceptance in Sept, 2003 of a Censorship Review Committee recommendation that the controversial no-funding rule of the two art forms be lifted." How gently put. After all, beggars and servants can’t possibly harp on the10 year-rule as one subsuming no-permission as well. Well, not at a time like now anyway, when the Master is being so-so benevolent.

By the way, in case you’re just born yesterday and are wondering why the ruling before, the ST report states that in the past those scriptless performances, especially performance art, were shunned because they "may be exploited to agitate the audience on volatile social issues". The precise premise of art, you say? Ai-yah, we are $ingapore, not London or New York. Our art has to function for our own, even unique, reasons. Art peace, perhaps.

The Dramabox artistic director hoped that NAC would "keep an open mind on censorship matters in the long run". Oh so gently now to the Masters. But… but not when it comes to flaunting our all-new hip-&-swinging $ingapore being remade, babe. Look! In that same day’s ST: "Time to break the rules"! (Oh yeah?) — went the headline for a Pulp Festival allowing artists to collaborate with breakdancers. So chant it luv, for full subliminal remaking effect — "time to break the rules, time to break the rules…" But please do it softly to scriptless art performers, hor. After all, we do want to encourage benevolent peace-stakers to feel assured to "keep an open mind", you know.

O how we look like we’re helping to break the rules. Cher, the Hollywood actress, was quoted in our ST saying: "I would rather stick needles in my eyes than be a Republican", and she’s referring to the ruling party in her country, dudes. Can you imagine local actors (the TV ones or otherwise) saying they’d rather stick needles in their eyes than support the PAP? The moon falling from the sky would be more plausible. Likewise, the veteran actor Robert Redford was quoted in the ST the following day saying: "I’ve never known an administration more narrow, more limited and more mean." All I can say to ‘time-to-break-the-rules’ believers is — this is not America. So, conviction may run deep but shit-creeks are deeper. Not that they’d know…

"Awaken something you won’t find in books" — the caption ran for an ad from an educational institution (SMU); that something being "passion"! Nothing like a ‘campaign’ to awaken what even books cannot. And that’s just on ‘passion’. We’d need another for conviction. So what would they know, not to mention invisible OB-markers in this hip-&-swinging era!

"Mavericks a must for nation’s growth" is a billowing new tune they’re blowing in the wind of change these remaking days (ST, Dec 2, 2003). All the more so 'cos our nation’s founding father tells a forum he didn’t realise "the importance of those who think outside the box when he was building $ingapore". An honest mistake then, or gently-gently, an honest oversight.

Named in the same report are three foreign mavericks (almost the only kind left around here now) who were part of a two-day Global Brand Forum held in town. Spiritual guru Deepak Chopra said: "Leaders who look only for external goals, such as money, will fail." Thank god ours are also after ceaseless control (very internal a goal there, I tell you).

Then there’s Anita Roddick, the Body Shop founder who has now stepped down as the Shop’s chief executive. She said that if she were still in charge, she "would be challenging the World Trade Organisation, the war in Iraq". Yo, Ms Maverick, I mean Roddick. If you think our Govt is gonna sit back and let its people do as what you wish, you’re out of your ‘mazing maverick mind. But of course, we know you are speaking as a Briton and hardly know the REAL host who invited you. Nice billowing work then, mate.

Finally, the third named speaker Scott Bedbury, a marketing strategist, said, "The challenge for $ingapore is to find ways to poke fun at itself… You have to have fun. You can’t just say there’s fun to be had here." Well, that’s one man who really doesn’t know $ingapore. Over here, the authorities simply have to say and it shall be so! It may not seem logical but, hey, we’re $ingapore, unique unto the world!!

Nevertheless, to take up Bedbury’s point… Hello, like HELLO!!! See me, feel me, this is Mr Tickling me poke-poke, hello?! Can you stop those foot-servants from calling this relevant-me here tiresome then?

And so it’s come to be known that all the big talk about mavericks (and bohemians) is but hot-air to puff up that big baloney ready to explode on its own peace-taking myths. Before challenging the war in Iraq, why not try and pilot a challenge on union-leaders for a start? As you can see, no one can survive big-big here without the age-old yes-yes decorum to help hold the whatever-peace. Unless we’re talking about all-conforming and nodding mavericks.

We’ll be so unique, $ingapore!


NOTE:
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