"Little wonder then, that residents rush through void decks
Back to the cramped comforts of home
as if in fear of what such open space might do
To cosy minds."
- Alfian Sa’at, Void Deck.

"If I am paranoid
I have learnt it from you."
- Alfian Sa’at, Singapore, You’re Not My Country.

Ai-yah, learnt-learnt, lor. People who understand the importance of a stable economic and political system will know that’s just a small price to pay in the bargain. What price? The Alfian Sa'at-contention of 'fear' and 'paranoia', lor.


So, isn't it cosmic and poetic that we should now have — the crisis of fear, stemming from the biggest crisis of them all, SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome). "The PM (on) what he called Singapore’s worst crisis since independence — the crisis of fear over SARS..." (Straits Times, Apr 24, 2003). Eh… different kind of fear from the Alfian Sa’at one? Oh go on, drop on the floor, just pick up more sand and justify 'til the cows come home, lor.

When school kids were first given the thermometer test in a SARS prevention-drive, we were told by the statesman that the kids would then also be learning a thing or two about body temperature and how to use a thermometer, etc. No, we can't just say it's a necessary precautionary measure 'cos if we do, the ignoramus would somehow equate it with hoodwinking. Why, hah?


Terminal justification — pointed persuasion or rationalised regimentation? It's staring at you all the time in the morning paper. "SARS quarantine — use it to get to know family better," some earnest lady suggested in the Straits Times' Forum on Mar 29, 2003. Oh yeah, instructional time again and with that fitting paternalistic tone of justification, moo! Our people need to be told, mah.

Don't laugh but here's the ludicrous extent of that letter's 'instructional' stand — "Take out old board and card games which require the family to interact as they play. Have a good laugh as you brainstorm and make up new games too. After a meal, read together from a good book. Do your own book-to-movie conversion. Or do spoofs of your favorite TV programs or commercials…."

I see one word in all of that — Stepford. It's so obvious why Singaporeans deserve Channel 8 and 5, isn't it? You think I'm over-stating the instructional-ignoramus case? The Ministry of Community Development & Sports is distributing a pamphlet to neighborhood clinics with a message that ain't medical at all. 'Love Our Children — Discipline, Not Abuse' is the headline. Inside it are tips on disciplining a child and managing your anger. Gotta tell them EVERYTHING, What to do, how to shit, what to hold back, etc.

Coming back to SARS…

"Why take the risk? Find ways to live with bug… Fever-struck minister keeps distance. Even simple steps can help." (ST, Apr 7, 2003). Sure, sure. Lead-by-example, suddenly, takes on a new fervor on these shores. To me, it's more like rub-in the common sense 'cos we ain't got much of it to begin with. (Nevermind that they're hoping for us to be dynamic and entrepreneurial).

So you can well imagine how I 'languish' in the 'fever' of our terrible crisis. Finally, we are forced to take a long hard look at our system of immoderate regimentation and see how it has subverted personal initiative all this while. And how WE DIDN'T GIVE A FUCK BEFORE, 'COS FATHER KNOWS BEST! So now, how?

Of course, have to regulate some more, lor. Like fines/jail-term for people who break quarantine… Of course, we've got to. Singaporeans know zilch about social responsibility and civic-mindedness because with a system of law-by-law, we don't need to use our head, mah.

"Ridiculed for wearing masks," cried one poor conscientious Singaporean in the Straits Times’ Forum (Apr 10, 2003). Seriously, am I surprised?

Oh, you can imagine the joyful space granted to me, each time I wear a mask on the MRT train these days. Finally, restrained space-encroachment behavior. Hallelujah, the crisis of fear.

Another thing.

In the past, whenever the Gov. stepped in to make a stand, our angkat-heavy press would always follow up with a timely 'social-building chide' — "Why must Singaporeans turn to Gov. for everything?" To me, that's like saying — 'Yes, our sweet masters will always do their part, so please follow orders given. But feel you are also acting autonomously 'cos with our chiding-cue now, you are, therefore, using your head to question the instruction's relevance in order to act on orders from above. See how important our role is between you, the layman, and them, the statesmen!'.

Well, the press wouldn't dare use that follow-up rationale this time in our SARS crisis. How nice to be spared ONE morning-time manipulation.

Hey, defensive press, no need to get super-defensive on me. You think I'm the only one spelling out our follies for all to see? Even one minister, not long ago, had the gumption to say - "We depended too much on a command and control mode". Just that he said it ever so delicately. I would also state my contentions sweetly if I have the kind of patience and faith as he does in a system of sweeping control and insidious subjugation (see chapter 91 of my book The Attack Of The S.M. Space Encroachers) which breeds distrust, indignation and hostility, not forgetting, fear. So get your perspective on me right when buttering up the right backsides.

In the Straits Times Commentary/Analysis on Apr 25, 2003, a senior writer with the paper wrote - "Singapore’s crisis of fear goes deeper than SARS". Oh, you betcha. I rest my Sars(castic) case.

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