The nation is turning 44 soon! But hush on the digits, it's not a favourite Chinese number any way.
"Come together" is the theme. When some gay friends and acquaintances snigger at it, I knew what was happening. Even the Beatle's 1969 hit (every Beatle song is a hit any way, except for Revolution No.9) "Come Together" has its connotations - sex and drugs. Come on, "shoot coca-cola" is not about ingesting the soft drink. And not to forget the chorus line "Come together right now over me".
One man remarked, much to my amusement and it shouldn't be new by now any way, that the full theme should read:
"COME TOGETHER; CAME ALREADY"
To stereotype, I think straight men are capable of thinking of such stuff, but probably the gay ones have more guts to say it. Of course, the idea of ejaculation will always dominate when "come" is mentioned. And speaking of domination, the discourse of ejaculation is also dominated by androcentrism (male domination).
National Day is homoerotic on many levels. Parading phalli, pointing rifles at an angle and 'shooting' in the direction of the leaders (see bukakae), and the whole teasing culminating in an explosion of fireworks as the spectators look up with their mouths open. (I wanted to say to "welcome the jizz that is the fireworks", but decided not to write it here, because George Lim Heng Chye publish another Straits Times forum letter on how potentially arousing it might be if I described it)
The sub-theme, or whatever you want to call it, is "Reaching out, reaching up", which probably implies a rather erotic moment of groping. Depending on your orientation, you could imagine it as a heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual or bestial moment.
Despite our National Day being (homo)erotic and amidst sensitive observations of our Prime Minister being a 'gentle' person, I think this year's theme means a lot more than its orgasmic eroticism.
Sometimes I feel like "reaching out, reaching up" and grab the ERP gantry and smash it to the ground.
There are times I feel like "reaching out, reaching up" to the top government officials and make them see the shit that is happening on the ground. They are rather blinded by the bureaucracy, and this affects ground-up feedback.
Everyday on the trains, many men fear the shame and stigmatism of being photographed for being "ungracious", so they willingly choose not to sit, but stand. They 'reach out, reach up' for the handles/bars instead.
"Reaching out, reaching up" also connotes the government pandering to the middle and upper classes. You don't have "reaching down" mah! Maybe the PAP have changed their elections strategy and are targetting the more privileged classes. More over, "reaching down" signifies auto-eroticism, which according to very religious is the leprosy of desire.
The absence of "reaching down" means that auto-eroticism (which is masturbation, but only more scientific and cooler sounding) and mutual masturbation (means you reach down to help another person, by using you hands or other limbs to simulate intercourse) are not condoned in our theme of "coming together".
The not-so-subtle subtext (the lowest denominator must be able to understand it, you know) states that we must "come together" naturally so we can procreate. I read somewhere that the female orgasm will help suck the sperm in better, or something like that (and that's probably why my wife says I have no sex education).
Maybe we need to make Singapore more sexy, and what better way to do it than with innuendo-laden themes that will whiz by the metaphor-blind conservative and puritanical populace. For example, George Lim Heng Chye sees a penis or the outline of a penis other than his, he will write to the press. But the suggestion or the implication of a penis or its function may be too subtle for him to pick up, thus reducing his chances of actually writing to the press, and even if he did pick it up, he will probably risk being too homoerotic and too sensitive to appendages of the same sex. Hmmmmmmmmm?
To further the message of procreation, we must open the dam, the Marina Barrage, because it represents the diaphragm, the female contraceptive. But unfortunately, this metaphor is too weak for a culture that sees the world in the binary "penis or no penis". Rather Shakespearean, don't you think?
We define things according to the presence and absence of the phallus. Phallocentric. Let Elmo teach you kids a new word today. Phallocentric. Let's spell it together! P H A L L O C E N T R I C. Phallocentric! YAY! (waves arms wildly in the air and shake hips)
Yes, the opening (or demolishing) of the Marina Barrage must be accompanied by the entrance of a cruise ship. The PAP government can decide what size of ship they like it to be. But since we are in the season where we are obsessively occupied with multiculturalism, we should have 4 ships - each painted yellow, brown, darker brown and white!
And these 4 ships will sail/speed into the mouth of the Singapore River, before changing direction and reversing quickly, then go in again, then out, and repeat the process until the fireworks come out. (We will need strong engines then)
This way, Singaporeans, young and not so old (we discriminate against old people any way), will know what to do. The message of procreation is not impeded by its subtle nautical coitus imagery. And since there might be a considerable number of deeply religious folks amongst the crowd, the removal of the dam will be cheered. Not natural to put a dam there, right? The greater powers might not like it that way (and I'm not talking about Lee Kuan Yew).
On a more serious note, I do not feel a strong sense of belonging to Singapore the nation, or Singapore the culture. The only sense of belonging I have is to family, and Singapore is not and will probably never be my family.
To bitch a little more, I feel, for instance, National Service for (only) Singaporeans is not justified. Not only do we sacrifice youth, bodies, time and drowned lungs for the entity called the nation, and its economy and non-NS liable foreign talents, we are emotionally exploited and ransomed into feeling that this is where we belong. I find it difficult to understand why I should defend a place full of ugly hearts, holier-than-thou attitudes and people who behave like everyone else owed them a living.
I will be a little more motivated to serve and have a greater sense of belonging if there are more Singaporeans out there with the hearts of Ace Kindred Cheong, for instance (although that guy has been unnecessarily criticised on the internet for being a government "pander bear").
Any way, there's no point defending and no reason to feel a sense of belonging to a place full of self-righteous power-hungry (if money-hungry) bigots. And since conscientious objection (to National Service, for example) is not allowed, the distaste, apathy and/or resentment become stronger and deeper. How to feel a sense of belonging when you have dissonance on every level?
In my opinion, Singapore is only defined as a nation on paper, by the government and in school textbooks. But I believe that most of us do not feel like we're part of the nation, saved for international sports competitions.
It is because of our unequivocal anchoring mantra of pragmatism that we live ambiguously, hence no sense of belonging being fostered. On the one hand, we do pluralism, on the hand, we submit to a majority vote. Very conflicted, very bipolar, but it's all justified under the rubric of pragmatism, economic pragmatism any way. Probably our leaders feel it is pragmatic to repackage "economic pragmatism" as "pragmatism", pragmatic, no?
When we "come together" in celebrating the nation's birthday, I think we are all tokens and calefares in the Singapore show, majority Chinese, children and elderly included. How many of those performing/marching are willing performers/marchers? How many of them actually said "YES!!! OH GOD!!! YES!!!" when they were nominated/volunteered to be part of NDP, compared to those who said "FUCK!!! NO!!!! ARGHHH!!! WHY ME???"
The PAP government is the leader and director, we are just the crew following orders to make them look good in the international community. Except on one day every 5 years when the crew becomes the director and tells the director what is going right or wrong. *hint *hint
I will feel a greater sense of belonging if the government is a compassionate one, but when you say compassionate, our leaders will cringe like schoolgirls when a spider is thrown on their laps, thinking about that dirty W-word. Not whore, but welfare. Welfare is not a pragmatic thing, you see, so the government leaves the care/welfare of the people to private organisations, even though the job of a government IS TO TAKE CARE OF ITS PEOPLE. Ironic, right? But I guess it is "pragmatic" to be occupied with economy and staying in power, and not taking care of people. Why must my mother pay so much out of her own pocket for medical and hospital check-ups when she can't touch her own medi-save, which contains her hard-earned money?
If you want to control Singaporeans, you also have to care for them. If you want to beat us, make sure you feed us too.
If you want me to commit 2 and a half weeks of reservist training in the middle of my full-time graduate studies, pay the university 2 and a half weeks of fees so I can have that time returned to me to finish my research. If I wanted to extend my studies beyond my scholarship by 2 and a half weeks, why should I pay for it myself? If you want to look like a fair government, step forward, be responsible, be fair and offer to engage the university to extend my scholarship/study by 2 and a half weeks. I give you my time and sweat, and all you need to give me back is time.
There is never a fair exchange and even reasonable Singaporeans do feel they lose out in this deal.
Instead of a crescent and stars, I see a whip and dollar bills, and maybe that's due to poor eyesight I guess. I'm not living in Singapore, I am try to survive in it. We need change, in heart and in mind, and only then will we be able to progress from "this is Singapore" to "this is my Singapore".