Wednesday, May 25, 2011

SIA to launch low-cost carrier

That was the exact headline from today’s ST. And welcome news it is. I have often thought it would be wonderful to fly non-stop to the US and speed up the miserably long flight I make every year, but SIA’s current flights that go direct to New York have no economy class whatsoever!

It makes good business sense. Let the highly profitable airline take only high-paying business and first class passengers, and start a budget airline for regular people who don’t have $10,000 to spend on a single ticket.

The new airline would focus on medium and long haul flights. Most Singaporeans have done the usual holidays in the region – Bali, Phuket, Hong Kong, etc. This might help them get to more distant destinations, without paying SIA’s usual pricey rates.

There are other synergies as well. Instead of firing their Singapore Girls when they get pregnant, or develop crow’s feet, they could simply redeploy them to the low-end side of the operation.

Singapore Biennale

There has been some controversy surrounding the recent Singapore Biennale, aside from the removal/shutdown/censoring/call-it-what-you-will of the installation piece with the gay porn. It concerns the attendance figures of the event.

The Biennale supposedly drew over 900,000 visitors to its various venues, including the Singapore Art Museum. Over 700,000 “visitors” were passing by public displays, a highly suspect figure. SAM itself drew about 740,000 in all of 2009. The world renowned Venice Biennale drew a measley 375,000 during six months in 2009, according to the Straits Times. The paper further states that about 196,000 attended SAM, the National Museum, the highly publicized Merlion Hotel exhibit, and the Old Kallang Airport location during the two month run.

Dividing 740,000 by 12, let’s say SAM would have had about 62,000 visitors a month, or 124,000 during the entire event. Take that from 196,000 and you get 72,000. I assume the National Museum also gets several thousand visitors in a normal month, and the Merlion Hotel exhibit had so much hype it no doubt lured many thousands of curiousity seekers. Which leaves just a few for the Old Kallang Airport.

I joined the extended family for an afternoon at OKA during the Biennale. It was a weekend afternoon, billed as “Family Day,” yet the place was not crowded by any measurement. Cherisse made three kites, a couple of badges, and a cardboard house at the kiddie art area. I ventured into a few of the buildings to see the “professional” art. And what did I see?

There was one space (a good art critic doesn’t use words like “room,” we prefer “space”) containing the contents of a Chinese provision shop. Lots of plastic buckets, porcelain bowls with roosters painted on them, feather dusters, etc. I guess this was for the benefit of any local or tourist who never ventured into such a shop in Chinatown. Pointless. Another room (I mean space) was filled with huge paper tubes representing who knows what. There was a very fake looking German barn with some real live boys in lederhosen lounging on the hay, which might have qualified as child porn in some places.

I have done a few installation and performance art pieces during my high school and university days, and my idea of art encompasses more than the traditional still life/portrait/landscape kind of thing. But I have to say this was the worst art exhibition I have ever seen, and a few of my friends felt the same way. The best part was a large space (there I go again – damn, I’m good!) filled with hundreds of drawings by local primary school students.

Forget the incredibly misleading numbers, this event was an unpopular fiasco. And I don’t mean to belittle the organizers, the people helping the tykes make their kites, or the primary schoolers. I just hope they do a better job next time.