(Remaking Singapore Without Question)

These days, there’s one giant fervor of a spirit sweeping the island, sprinkling desperate stardust of renaissance-chic that could turn an Indonesian haze into Hendrix’s Purple Haze for that funky youthful beckoning. And this crazy hype worthy of a national hysteria is none other than, da-da — Remaking Singapore.

Oh, don’t even think I’ll try pitching that if-it-ain’t-broke argument which has already been defensively tackled the moment the campaign began. What did they say? You think I’d bother with that nonsense the way they’d bother with mine? Gimme a break… (now, that’s one catch-phrase that’s hard to erase from my Chee-ky memory of our people-serving press’ Bertha-Butt-Boogie arguments).

Remaking Singapore naturally requires a certain amount of dirt-digging, if not airing of dirty laundry. So here’s one from the annals of the family institution: homosexuality (none more vile or scum-baggy, yeah?) Well, what d’ya know, our authorities are finally bothering with that now. No less than seven gay saunas/bath-houses with bustling orgies, I hear, have come to thrive in our midst. Shocking, yeah? (The authorities don’t know? Darling, how you undermine them.) Then there was that huge gay rave-party on Sentosa (on the eve of National Day, no less) named The Nation Party. Not billed as a gay party? Well, so much for 'transparency' then. Some things just can’t be black-and-white. Can you imagine how 'unprepared' our PEOPLE will be for news of such a scene in the press ? So it’s not the authorities fault, hor.

So, do we have a Remaking-Singapore’s gay-underground or what? I mean candy-honey-sugar-puff, of course, it is a very 'underground' scene. Oh, don’t we — here in hip-and-swinging Singapore — crave to have something so (clinically) underground … finally!

Question is — what called for this new 'liberalization' of the gay-underground to operate with license above-ground? All you desperate outlet/avenue-hunting homos who think our society has gone more tolerant about your aberrant sexual preference, think again (not that you need to when there’s a more pleasurable pursuit now like groping in the dark-rooms). Let me remind you that you’re NOT exactly getting the delicious un-Hollywood gay cult-movies on the silver screen. That should tell you all about the new Remaking mentality.

Even a mincing nellie can tell me the other day that it’s all about keeping tab of who goes there and where. It’s all about ‘hidden cameras’ darling, ‘she’ says. (Oh, sisters, you should feel paranoid about those dark-rooms especially on those special NO-TOWEL nights. In the end, they’ll know not only what you do but how LONG you can go. Hmm-hmm. I no buff (sic) you one — it’s in our System to be guardedly paranoid, remember… for your own good!). Methinks the real reason, apart from utter control, is also more quintessentially Singapore: MONEY, honey. (As in know money, know honey, luv.)

The reason the authorities have allowed those Sodom-and-Gomorrah-sinful-despicable-depraved places to thrive is — they want raving homos to spend their PINK-DOLLAR here now. Why bother to fly to KL or BKK or HK for the long-weekend spree and indulgence? We’ve got seven bath-houses to choose from, plus an over-night jaunt at Sentosa to let fly those limp-wrists, bulging biceps and gym-trained pecs. How ironic that these outlets have sprung up now in Singapore AFTER the Aids-tragedy began. Irony honey? No problem, we just swatch it for the makeover-look! It’s called let’s-not-talk-about-it, so we can all enjoy ourselves. Or, never mind the Sodom, here’s the moolah.

Haven’t I been right all along? When economics comes knocking, morality flies out the window. (Remember the American-English issue?). Particularly poignant in self-righteously upright Singapore, don’t you think? Yes, dear Mr. President — as they’d say in the US — you can step down from your moral high-horse now for the non-legislated but semi-permissive actions/rulings surely do speak for themselves.

Try telling me that the authorities are finally tolerant of homos and I’ll surely ask why Fassbinder’s Querelle was missing from the Goethe Institute’s program of the German film-director’s career-retrospective. (Oh go on, get the Institute to cover its backside and make it look like it is covering backside… why not, we’re so used to THAT scene!). Hello, I know the film’s banned… but many bans have been quietly‘'revoked', no? (Think True Romance — that Christian Slater film. Or check the new Rolling Stones compilation Forty Licks, aren’t Get Off My Cloud and Wild Horses banned? Weren’t they?). I mean, Querelle was Fassbinder’s last film before he committed suicide. Doesn’t that mean anything? Guess not, 'cos it’s not about money or the economy.

Tell me then that Remaking Singapore, as usual, means rewriting the value-systems with no questions asked (only pertinent ones will be for the good of all, yes, yes, and by the people-loving press, I’m sure). So how do we justify gay bath-houses in Singapore for the good of all family-loving Singaporeans? Not that I’m the least bit curious. (Save it for your happy-in-hostage-and-waiting-for-the-next-order press, they’d certainly need it.) So who cares if Remaking Singapore is not about fixing something broken, as long as it’s about this writer being right all along, that’s enough for me.

Now, will we get to see Querelle on the local big screen at some momentous festival on one of these future rainbow-colored days ? Oops, sorry I asked. — X'Ho (November 2002)

NOTE: Visit X'Ho's official site at

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