Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hacker backer sacks attacker

Wendi Deng, wife of Rupert Murdoch, quickly beat back an attacker who threw shaving foam at her hubby. The beleaguered media mogul was appearing before a parliamentary committee in London that was conducting an inquiry into his news organization’s hacking of phone lines.

That was a quick reaction by the feisty lady. Or was it? Did she know he was coming? Perhaps the foamer was hacked.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Orchid Revolution?

Ever since the election the government has been bending over backwards to appear responsive to the people. I had strange thoughts creeping into my head – is the whip being passed from the government to the governed? Spring Singapore chairman Philip Yeo expressed fear that the government may become “terrified of the people” and pamper them too much. A reader wrote in to the Straits Times expressing a similar fear. Though the Speaker’s Corner is empty as usual, could we be in the midst of an Orchid Revolution?

Meanwhile, over at the Maplewoods condominium, a bunch of crybaby residents are whining about construction work on the new MRT line going on outside their development. After hearing their alternative plan, LTA engineers felt it would cause delay, but that that did not satisfy the residents. I guess these Complaint Kings and Queens think they know better than the professionals who have done a remarkable job to date in building a world-class mass transit system. It looks like the whiners will secure a number of concessions, or “goodies,” after their pathetic outburst. Which means we can expect more to come – if not from them, then from many others who will no doubt try to follow their example.

MRT related construction is causing disruption all over Bukit Timah and other areas. Maplewoods owners will benefit greatly when the new line is completed, with a station right outside their door. They will gladly accept the increase in value to their property and the proximity to the MRT. They just don’t want to bear any inconvenience along the way.

There are few things in life as irritating as a spoiled brat – except for a hundred of them.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

These foreigners are getting out of control!

Straits Times columnist Sumiko Tan vented some half-hearted gripes about the invasion of foreigners in Singapore. She laments the cacophony of Chinese dialects other than the ones she’s accustomed to, and the foreigners’ penchant for hanging laundry on playground equipment instead of on bamboo poles, balcony railings, and parapets like real Singaporeans do. Maybe it’s just me, but I haven’t noticed much change. In fact, when I’m on the MRT and hear the announcement about reporting suspicious looking characters, I’m thinking they all look pretty suspicious to me!

Ms Tan is lucky she didn’t grow up in Miami, which has been subject to a fifty-year invasion of Spanish speakers who make little or no effort to speak English, monopolize many jobs because of that language divide, and disrupt traffic by selling oranges, flowers, and cocaine at your car window. They paint their houses in shades of papaya, lavender, and aquamarine instead of white or beige. Miami streets are named after foreign statesmen and heroes unknown to most Americans. Politics has been dragged into the gutter (more so and earlier than in other parts of the US) and corruption is off the charts. [Disclaimer: I’m not saying the population shift was the sole cause of all of these ills, but merely point out that they resemble conditions traditionally found in South America more than in North America.] Because they have used their political weight to impose an embargo on Cuba, which has loopholes for themselves, the foreigners have more freedom in America than native-born Americans do.

Singapore has always had a rojak population (see how I’ve adapted!), and most of the newcomers are from the same countries as Singaporeans’ ancestors. Foreigners in Singapore generally speak the language(s), have a hard time getting citizenship, keep their noses out of politics, and rarely venture any harsh or non-mainstream opinions. They pay more for medical and other services and are clearly second-class in many ways. Maids and foreign laborers are treated well below second-class. (Okay, so some foreigners do have stronger opinions!)

The bottom line is the world is changing far faster than most people would like, and we all feel alienated or left behind in some ways. Deal with it.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

4th of July

After 11 years of celebrating Independence Day with a lonely hamburger, we finally made it to the American Association’s 4th of July bash this year at the Sembawang naval base. About a hundred US sailors are permanently stationed at the base, which is shared with the British, Australian, and New Zealand navies.

There were several thousand people roaming the grounds and picnicking on blankets, many wearing college T-shirts, athletic jerseys, and other articles of distinctly American clothing. A few bands performed the sort of music you would expect from middle-aged performers – Springsteen, Allman Brothers, and a lot of country music. On this occasion even songs I never really liked sounded good.

I never saw so many ang mohs and so few Singaporeans at one time in Singapore. In fact, the only thing to remind me that I was in Singapore was the long queue for the toilets.

There were lots of organized activities for the kids, and at least one unofficial one – a bunch of adventurous kids were riding down a steep embankment on large cardboard sheets. In the evening there was a modest fireworks display. There was also plenty of food and beer. I had ribs, a pork sandwich, and cole slaw. Margarete and Cherisse had hot dogs, chicken wings, and lemonade. All of the food was reasonably priced. It was so nice to have a meal without rice or noodles!

After our four hour vacation we boarded the shuttle bus back to Sembawang MRT station. The bus traveled just a few blocks, but it brought us from one world to another. I’m sure we’ll be back next year.