Notes from the National Day Rally 2007

Which I watched while making dinner in front of the TV (a salad and open-face sandwiches are easy that way) and chatting with sarah online.

First of all, WTF was up with the turquoise shirt? (Yes, it merits a "WTF".) Combined with the purple lighting, it was all very getai, all very 881, all very distracting.

When I finally got over that shock to my system (mostly by listening to the speech, rather than watching it), the man was maundering about education. I said to sarah, "It's very sad when a prime minister sounds like he just learned that secondary school students know how to use video cams --- WHEN THIS IS THE AGE OF YOUTUBE." Maybe he needs to watch Teacher Tube more often (via apophenia).

sarah thought it would help if he didn't talk about good teachers in neighbourhood schools as if he'd never met any before. Not to mention the implication that good teachers are those that come up with all the gee-whiz projects --- where's the love for teachers who are plugging away to get the basics right?

Oh wait, he foiled me with the obligatory "let's have the teachers stand up and take a bow" moment. But hey, in that contingent of about 40 teachers, where were all the women? The contingent was heavily male, which is hardly representative of the local teaching population. Or maybe the women were just better at making excuses not to attend the Rally ...

Reason #7924 why Singapore will never get its act together like a real society: the prime minister is happy to operate at the level of "Singaporeans like incentives", and toss more incentives at them. So the government thinks non-Malay students will study Malay as a third language if they get two bonus points towards JC admission --- which some of them will, but that's no guarantee that any of them will actually continue using the language after they snag their two bonus points, or that they will be able to effectively use the language as adults. Given all the former Chinese-as-a-first-language students I know who are barely bilingual today despite the "A"s they scored in school, let's just say I'm skeptical about how this new programme will fare.

I'm also wondering if trumpeting a programme like this will make some of the latent racism in Singapore all the more evident if the Chinese majority fails to respond even to prime minister-endorsed incentives and shows no interest in the programme. Sure, there'll be some who say there are more "useful" (e.g. widely-spoken) languages one could study instead of Malay, but there'll also be those for whom the bias against people of another race spills over into a bias against their language. We'll see, I suppose ...

Moving along, I said to sarah, "I find it weird that the PM says 'twenty-one-five' instead of 'twenty-fifteen' [when he's referring to the year 2015]". What is up with that? Everyone says "nineteen-fifteen" and not "nineteen-one-five", right?

And then there was the whole "Just do it" Nike reference --- the prime minister, ladies and gentlemen, telling people to get on with sex to make babies.

You know what? Even less than I want to hear my parents talk about sex, I want to hear any government representative talk about sex. Even as a "joke". Which was not funny. At all.

On the other hand, everyone could just take such "wisecracks" at face value and run out and start having wild bunny sex a) outside of marriage, b) without protection. Let's see how much they'd like that.

(Obligatory PSA time: If you're going to have sex, make sure you are protected. For heaven's sake, don't believe the prime minister and "just do it".)

So the prime minister was talking about his former constituent, an old woman who was worried because she was receiving medical treatment and her CPF money would run out this year. And all he said to her was a smiley "Man man lei" (Cantonese for, "Let's do it slowly"). Let me just say that if my grandmother were still alive and the old Cantonese woman in question --- not to mention any number of other fierce elderly Cantonese women I know --- she would tell him exactly what to do with his "man man lei". I think even my mother would, in Cantonese and in English, because she's effectively bilingual that way (no need for two bonus points for JC admission, either).

An old woman's only source of money is running out and he says "man man lei"?!?!?!

In the same vein, I'm sure the 91-year-old woman he spoke with really loves her menial job working at a hawker centre. Did no one stop to wonder if 91-year-old men and women should be working in the first place?

Lee Hsien Loong: I think we must improve the returns on the CPF.
ME: No shit, Sherlock.
sarah: Eh, he went to Cambridge, okay?

Lee Hsien Loong: It's going to cost the government a lot of money [to improve the returns on the CPF].
ME: Excuse me, the government get money from where? From our TAXES correct?????

I'm not saying they shouldn't spend the money, I'm saying they shouldn't talk about it like it's the government's hard-earned profits and savings, when in fact, last time I checked, it's the people's. This is what happens when the prime minister's allowed to refer without a trace of irony to "Singapore, Inc." in his speech, and no one calls him on it.

MEGO sections: CPF changes and HDB upgrading. Oddly enough, the HDB section more so than the CPF bit. The only thing I had to say about the HDB plans: "Y'know, if you didn't clear Punggol Point, you wouldn't have to plan to "bring back" al fresco dining to it."

Finally, just before 10 pm, it was over. But only after the prime minister waved his arms like an animatronic puppet.


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At 8/20/2007 6:16 am , Blogger me said...

I saw screen shots of the turqouise shirt... YOU DID NOT TELL ME ABOUT THE WHITE SLACKS!

Oh lordy.

At 8/20/2007 8:02 am , Blogger Ruok said...

sigh. why doth the country seems more likely to go to the dogs year on year? >.<

At 8/20/2007 10:42 am , Blogger Tym said...

me > Actually, I didn't notice the white slacks at all. The podium hid it!

Ruok > Well, I only watched it for work-related reasons. Otherwise I'd just have, well, chatted online with sarah, sans Rally.

At 8/21/2007 12:16 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it's time to stop feeding the monster and perhaps do something to change the way things are or get the hell out of here.

At 8/23/2007 8:41 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

sheesh. pur-leese. gimme a break from stupid excuses. even my little 4 YEAR OLD bro could have come up with something better. also, i'm SURE that they have lots of $$ with @ least 4.5 million ppl spuuorting them. therefore, from my extremely logical point of view, i'm sure they can afford to receive a little less each month!:)

At 5/27/2008 7:19 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to say this Tym but I feel that your comments are judgemental and juvenile, especially the bit about the colour of his shirt and pants. For goodness sake, the man deserves his rights to choose as much as you do!!

I'm not especially pro-PAP myself, but I have relative faith in the directions of our government. Nit picking on his examples of school students using video cam is not the smartest thing to do. Students may know exceeding much about Youtubing but the implementation of multi-media into a school curriculum isn't as easy as you think. Every accolade should be given to schools even if they are one step behind.

Given your critical thinking ability, why not utilize it to a better gain instead of harping on non-constructive criticism?


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