Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Singapore Idol and one Ace Kindred Cheong

When I first saw the television advertisements plugging the local installment of the popular singing contest, I felt a little less excited compared to the last couple of times when we had our Idol contests.

A talented Taufik Batisah and a polished (bar) singer Hady Mirza were respectively crowned winners in 2004 and 2006.

If trends are anything to go by, judging from the two Idol contests alone:

1) The finalists will be between an ethnic Malay (portrayed to be homely) and an ethnic Chinese Singaporean (with a street-smart persona, or 'beng' if you like to call it).

2) The winner will be an ethnic Malay, because in my opinion, if votes are cast based on race (often times a horror turned into a weapon by the People's Action Party), the support from and solidarity of the Malay community triumphs over the Chinese community, the latter of which are generally more cynical, penny-counting, adopt a mind-my-own-business, and harbour other complementary mentalities.

3) The winner will be male. This is probably because female voters will be doing most of the voting, and I believe girls/women are generally a lot more unabashed than their male counterparts in engaging in such idolising rituals and activities. This is perhaps boys/men are socialised in a way that they have to live up to societal standards of masculine behaviour, that they do not want to be seen as supporters of a male artiste. And even if they vote, they may not vote as much as their female counterparts, because often times, when a girl does it (the excessive voting), it's called fervent undying fan support, but when a guy does it, it is called "gay", "stalker" or "pervert". The male voter is also assumed to be more rational than the stereotypically irrational and emotional female voter. This translates into lesser votes from the guys, as compared to the girls - standards the men have to live up to (or under). These are the social sanctions to regulate gender behaviour.

4) There will be an Idol contestant with widespread support from his/her religious community, and might stay beyond his/her welcome in the competition.

5) The odds will be stacked against the female contestants, as well as the ethnic Indian Singaporeans.

6) The show will probably air sometime after the National Day Parade or something, to harness the tide of television ratings.

I hope the music will not be synthesized and synthetic. No disrespect to composer/arranger Iskandar Ismail, Singapore Idol needs a live band, and not synthesizers and drum machines.

Up till the first Idol contest, I always looked up to Iskandar Ismail, because my music teachers will talk about him. That he was the guy to turn to if you want to make music. But unfortunately, his choice of instruments, along with the cheap production quality that Mediacorp enjoys sloshing around in, have created a hollow soul-less accompaniment for the Idol contestants.

And again, why "Singapore Idol" and not "Singaporean Idol"? Have we naturalised "Singapore" as an adjective?


I hope the swine flu does not hit Singapore.

Given the way the temperature checks are conducted, I feel the least comforted.

Most of them are not conducted professionally, nor by trained personnel. Nobody should get a reading below 36 degrees Celsius.

If we hold the unprofessional and untrained temperature checks constant, the healthy range would be any where from 32 degrees to 36.1 degrees Celcius. So if you get a reading of 36.5 in this scenario, you probably are very ill. But according to the protocol, you are fine and free to cough and sneeze and kiss everyone.

This is what happens when we try to enforce protocols and operating procedures. As the instructions get passed down from the higher-ups, they get carried out half-heartedly - in the sense there is inadequate training and that some personnel feel they are doing beyond what they were hired for.

Perhaps the rhetoric of being a "flexible" and "multi-talented" employee is being perpetuated by the system/employer to manipulate, abuse and squeeze to the last drop the employee. In true capitalist exploitation, the employee's utility is maximised for cost reduction (and profit maximisation).

And when/if the swine flu hits, it will be the lower level personnel that gets the axe.

This shows that the "lower-downs" do not share the same enthusiasm as the "higher-ups".

My wife shares the same concerns about the temperature checking procedures and I hope her letter to the Forum will be published.

And swine is a male pig. Why not sow?

And it appears that there is no limit to political correctness, since "pig" is sensitive to Muslims and Jews. The use of "swine" is also sensitive, so we settled for H1N1. I think that is the beauty and problem with the world of cultural differences, but I worry about political correctness going overboard, leading to a global culture of (self)censorship, just so we do not "offend". That is probably why some groups want a monocultural (and monoreligious) environment, so there would be some consistent code/definition of what constitutes offensive. Ok, I shall try not to make any references to the AWARE saga, but you are free to think about that.


Still back to Singapore Idol, I believe Singapore is a better place thanks to people like Ace Kindred Cheong.

After Googling his unique name, you will find that this man has been insulted and blasted by various netizens for being a PAP government boot-licker.

I guess that is what happens to most people in Singapore who try to be 'conservative', or appear supportive of the establishment, or even try to be fair or politically correct.

Ace Kindred Cheong writes to the newspapers (mainly Straits Times) regularly, probably more than most of us, like myself, given that we usually write about specific issues.

This guy is different, he writes about almost everything and shares his opinion with all of us. I believe he has a genuine concern for Singaporean society and Singaporeans in general, but unfortunately, some of us are unable to see these qualities through his writing.

Why am I saying nice stuff about Ace Kindred Cheong?

This is because my wife and I met him at Plaza Singapura a while back (not sure if it was last year or the year before).

My wife left her wallet in Manhattan Fish Market, where the food is good and the batter is nauseating. Along with another friend, we did not know the wallet was there, and ended up tracing back our steps to the food court and the MRT.

Ace Kindred Cheong noticed that I was frantically looking around the foodcourt and under the chairs. He did the most un-Singaporean thing and bothered me with a question that probably went like "Are you looking for something? Did you lose something?" and offered to help me find the wallet.

He probably was as clueless as we are, but he still took the time to listen to my description and look around the place.

We checked with the Manhattan Fish Market people and requested to look around the table we previously sat. The management said no, because a couple was sitting there. On hindsight, I say "fuck you" to Manhattan Fish Market @ Plaza Singapura.

The wallet was lying on the seat next to the couple. It was finally found.

Apart from the shithole that is the customer relations and decision-making capabilities of the restaurant, I remember Ace Kindred Cheong for his selfless act.

He is more than just the perceived government boot-licker. In my brief encounter with him, and from reading his forum letters, I believe he is a person who cares, and that matters in a society characterised by people who don't.

He has a heart many of us don't. He is genuine and he is a good person. If there are more Ace Kindred Cheong's on the streets of Singapore, and if graciousness could be measured, our graciousness index will improve.

Unfortunately, we live in a society where people and organisations exploit and abuse well-intentioned persons like Ace Kindred Cheong.

Even though he did not find the wallet, he taught me a lesson that a little help goes a long way. He was calm, reassuring and ready to help. Such a positive attitude can make your day and that is priceless.

I hope I do not get slammed for licking your boots, polishing your apples, currying your favour, carrying/licking your balls, like what you have been accused of on many occasions on the internet.

Ace Kindred Cheong, if you happen to read this, I would like to say that you are a good person. My wife also says you are a good person. I think that is enough.


wayHOW said...

when you're talking about the temperature checking procedure, are you referring to the thermometer which is stuck into your ear, or do you mean the infra-red thermal scanners?

Sam Ho said...

stick in the ear temperature checking. you're supposed to stick it in deep, but the people who do it don't.