Monday, August 31, 2009

The Low Blow on Ris: It is trendy not to give credit to others

Amazing. I mean. Outstanding.

Ris Low has drawn flak and harsh criticism in cyberspace for her poor diction, basically her poor English. Since the YouTube video has been taken down, you can give SPH's RazorTV the visits they need at http://www.razor.tv/site/servlet/segment/main/lifestyle/32776.html. If you're not too visual a person, you may want to check out The New Paper's report.

Firstly, I would like to say that when people (this time, a large number of people) start criticising, they reveal more about themselves rather than the person they are criticising.

What is revealed is our bias towards a certain kind of representation/ambassador of Singapore. Yes, we do not like Singaporeans with apparently broken English to carry our flag. We want women with education, or a certain class (in almost every sense), to represent our nation.

But the reality is, in doing so, we further invisibilise other segments of the community, who may not have the upbringing or opportunities that endow them with good English.

It is obvious to me that the English language may not be the primary language of Ris Low. There are many Singaporeans whose primary (and comfortable) language isn't English. Why should we be ashamed of this? Is there anything wrong with this?

Why should our local pageant winners speak fluent English when they could speak better in another language? Maybe their ideas and messages would not become diluted or distorted by their otherwise limited vocabulary and/or poor diction.

Ris Low could have done the interview in another language, but at least she is the one who is trying.

Singaporeans, so disempowered and generally impotent in many areas, are just too quick to deny credit to people who try.

I get mocked for speaking poor and broken Mandarin, but I still try. And recently, I tried speaking Mandarin to a taxi driver, who told me to continue speaking Mandarin and "heck care" people who react in a mocking way to me.

Others: Sam, you're Chinese. Why don't you speak Chinese?
Sam: (It's Mandarin, fuckwit) Ke yi. Wo .... bla bla bla bla Mandarin stuff....
Others: Ok. I think you better don't speak Chinese. Ha ha.

Whether this is said trivially or seriously, it reveals how trendy it is not to give credit to fellow Singaporeans.

As reported in The New Paper, one interviewee asked critics to put their money where they mouth is: Join a pageant and see for yourself.

I share that sentiment, but feel that is a little unfair, considering everyone has different talents and comforts.

I can say that doing interviews require some degree of experience and PR savvy. I do feel nervous when I am interviewed by the press. Sometimes, simple questions become tough questions, and other times, I distort my intended message with some fluffs. People do that. It is very much similar to unscripted public speaking, or scripted public speaking and presentations.

What is more important is how the criticism reveals our society and the people we are.

We are apparently ashamed of other breeds of Singaporeans. We want to dust the broken English-speaking folks under the carpet. We want a quarter Chinese, quarter Malay, quarter Indian, quarter Eurasian girl to represent us, not some alleged "Ah Lian". Why? Because we are uncomfortable with what we see are the "imperfections" of our society - apparent "Ah Lian" subculture/aesthetics, poor English and all that.

So what if her pronunciation is atrocious and comical? There are so many Singaporeans who speak like that too - pronouncing "fifteen" as "feev-tin": "EE"s are not stressed, "k"s become "g"s, "r"s become "l"s. So what? These reflect their position and socialisation, and why are the rest of us ashamed of it?

It is not as if they are lying, preaching hate, or revealing how evil they are.

I used to be critical of Singaporean representatives, asking "How the fuck these guys/girls get to represent Singapore?"

But now, I ask myself the standards and criteria I use to determine what is right. And I realise how my prejudices, both personal as well as informed by socialisation, play a huge role in how I think.

Sure, a woman like Ris Low is definitely not aesthetically appealing to me, not because she is ugly, but that judgement is due to individual taste. I realise, perhaps given my exposure to media and socialisation into various English-speaking Singaporean (sub)cultures, that Ris Low will fall outside what I like as a woman, and national representative. There is a cultural and social class dimension to all these, but of course, people do not like to self-interrogate, and that is why we probably have religion.

Yes, I support Ris Low, not because of Ris Low, but because the criticism is stupid and reveals how stupid and insecure we all are. Maybe Ris Low is the unintended performance artist who draws out reactions from all of us to reveal the condition of our society and psyche.


(picture from Lancerlord.blogspot.com)

69 comments:

the virgin undergrad said...

It's all okay. I'm sure there'll be a hokkien translator at her disposal for the Q&A segment. It's all cool.

rinaz said...

That's a really refreshing insight. I agree about the point that people should keep trying.

Regardless, in my opinion, to be an ambassador, and especially for a pageant such as this, diction and command of the language should be up to standard.

Maybe you are right, perhaps the interview should be done in Mandarin? But then again, it could probably exacerbate Singapore as part of China.

Jieq said...

I think your point is very valid. Credit has to be given where credit is due. She's not ugly and she won where others have failed and there must be someone who sees what she can bring to the competition. But the fact of the matter unfortunately is that too many singaporeans aren't up to scratch linguistically period. It's not to say they're incompetent but more they have usually more difficulty expressing themselves. Natually I generalize but ours is not a culture that raises people who feel they can be supermodels or nobel peace prize winners or astronauts. Ours is a culture that raises good solid accountants and lawyers. What I commend of Ris, despite my laughter and I'll admit disappointment is that she gets to do what many others will secretly desire but never achieve.

Sam Ho said...

well, if she has the heart, i don't care if ms singapore is wheelchair-bound, or deaf-mute.

seriously, will we criticise a wheelchair-bound ms singapore? i think we are just picking selected criteria to "judge and execute" others, all within the realm of political correctness.

Malcolm said...

It is very typical for us Chinese to try and put others down regardless of success or failure. Lu Xun described this mob mentality and desire for small "moral victories" of the Chinese quite poignantly in the Story of Ah Q.

It is always that tag line of "If you want to represent/be an ambassador of..............". By that, should we expect everyone to ascribe to a certain characteristic, or portray an image of a typical English educated middle-class ethnic Chinese Singaporean?

Should Singaporeans be conformists?

Sam Ho said...

yes, it's simply the hegemony of the english-speaking.

not everyone in a country, in which english is the official language, will be able to speak proper english (due to life chances, opportunities and privileges)

that said, there is also another cultural mentality that "all chinese can/should speak chinese".

just because singapore is multicultural, it doesn't mean our representative must be an amalgamate of all cultures and speak among other languages, english. why can't a representative of singapore be just a piece, or a slice of singapore - unique on its own?

Junkgirl™ said...

I want to stress that not everyone is mocking her about her english, it's her too hot for herself personality.

The said...

Sam, you are either Ris' boyfriend or some pervert stalker who has the hots for her. Maybe you're just as dumb as Ris. Of course we as Singaporeans would want somebody who is of a certain caliber to represent us.

If beauty pageants are about a true representation of the country, you'd get a tribes person representing Africa and a redneck representing the States (think miss south carolina)

Beauty pageants are nothing short of a criticism downpour. If you don't think that Ris has the right to be criticized, i suggest you switch the channel to Animal Planet.

I don't know what you mean when you say that it's obvious to you that the English language may not be the primary language of Ris. It's obvious to ME that English IS the compulsory first language of Singaporeans since 1987.

You are exactly why so many nationalities dislike us. Just lighten up and be able to laugh at yourself once in awhile, and stop being a whiny little bitch.

Vincent said...

oh you good commander of english you, as a nation that prides itself on having english as the first academic language, of course we need not be able to speak good english, it's just to pass our exams, no? besides, who needs an ambassador who can speak fluent english, when they are so many other visually pleasing aspects in a representative. perhaps next year, we can send a high quality mannequin?

Sam Ho said...

i haven't been flamed in a while and want to reply this.

i think ris can be criticised, never said she couldn't. and my point is not about ris actually. it's not even about beauty pageants also.

for me, i am just fascinated by the idea of criticism and what it reflects about people who crticise. and normally, this reflection is clouded by our relative inability of self-interrogation.

i'm married by the way, and have already stated in the article that ris does not aesthetically appeal to me.

i hope you'll continue to read more, and deeper into my pieces.

like you, i see what i want to see and what i like to see.

next time, if you want to flame, say something offensive that is actually based on the content of the article.

otherwise, the flaming becomes a bit baseless, a reflection of how you are (not) reading. thank goodness you're anonymous, or it will sure be embarrassing.

but you're still witty, can bring in more metaphors and jokes as it will be more cathartic!

feel free to reply, flame me more, or do a "human flesh search" that the Chinese netizens do.

Sam Ho said...

vincent, i think singaporean english, malay and mandarin have long been experiencing a decline in standards.

do we look at families, education system, individuals?

what's the solution?

brian koh said...

It's hardly about her standard of English as it is about the sense she was actually making during the interview.

I don't know, all I got was a shallow display of her intellect, class and style. Maybe I expect more from a beauty contest, or maybe the standards of these contests have been slipping and not our standard of English.

adeline said...

agree with brian. for me i was ashamed not at her standard of english but for the things she said. pure display of shallowness and lack of interest in anything but herself. notice the number of times she emphasized it's all about HER HER HER? quite disgusting, in my opinion. and to say she likes africa cos she likes animal prints speaks volumes of her intellect.

adeline said...
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the little eastern heretic said...

i have to agree with adeline and brian. her english is ok, understandable, but the stuff she says is really quite... off.

JacK SeparuH said...

hi SAM! i dont necessarily agree with you and feel compelled to post a response to it dated today...

not gonna talk so much here though.

heres a link to it if ure interested.

http://jackrahmansparrow.blogspot.com/

Cia said...

Hi Sam, stumbled upon this entry of yours and i want to say i like what you wrote in the second paragraph

'Firstly, I would like to say that when people (this time, a large number of people) start criticising, they reveal more about themselves rather than the person they are criticising.'

No comments on your support to Ris Low though. =)


I do believe the part she reiterates everything's about her is just an attempt to look confident, but backfires, making her seem self-centred instead (which sparked the criticism).

The poor girl.

mizzglittereyes said...

This is a beauty pagent that asks our models (all over the world) to answer questions to give insights to their characteristics and brains. She should not have won, as clearly she is unable to carry the standard of english to put singapore on a platform. We have just become closer to being called 'China'.

mizzglittereyes said...

This is a beauty pagent that asks our models (all over the world) to answer questions to give insights to their characteristics and brains. She should not have won, as clearly she is unable to carry the standard of english to put singapore on a platform. We have just become closer to being called 'China'.

junde said...

@mizzglittereyes I'm a Singaporean working and living in China and I think that your 'China' label would be a sweeping and unfair. There's so much more you haven't had a chance to know.

@Sam Yours is a refreshing insight that I can appreciate to some extent. But unfortunately, representing a nation at an international beauty pageant means you are one of the prettiest, smartest, most elegant young ladies in Singapore. It's like, sending Ris/D/X to represent the Singapore Blogger at a World Bloggers Conference. Would you be happy with this representation? Hence, I blame the judges for the present predicament.

荊云 said...

I see this whole incident in quite a mixed light. First, I admit I found Ris' way of expression and interview n content not too appealing. Call it exaggeration, shallowness or anything, it just doesn't seem appropriate for a representative of the nation to be this "flashy".
But my sympathies also go to her as I can see her trying, trying hard to behave hip, matching up to "standards" corresponding to a cosmopolitan beauty queen/big city girl/fashionista blah blah blah. One wonders, does she NEED to try to be all that, maybe someone she really isn't in real life?
It then brings us to a deeper question: We all need to keep up certain appearances in life, beauty queen or not. It isn't easy at all, but we still have that "highly critical" mode that we tend to apply on others (not ourselves, we cut us lots of slack naturally) and to get awfully cruel/bitchy doing that sometimes.

Ris does have a problem with her language and expression. She might have said the not-so-right things in a state of nervousness, but she does not deserve a death sentence by acidic lashing online or in the press.

IMHO, there are many underlying factors and problems which led to this whole fracas exploding in our faces. The blame isnt on Ris, the judges or anyone ALONE.

Cool down, all.

daph said...

Yea, my problem with her is not solely on her standard of English, it's really about WHAT she said and HOW she spoke.

I agree with some of the other commentors about how English has been our 1st language, so that is really no excuse about how it's not her "primary language". You said she tried, but I guess it's a little late. If she's always been trying (we've learnt this language from a young age of 5 at kindergarten?), I doubt that would be the case. Not as a personal dig, but u say u try speaking mandarin, do u do it regularly enough for you to improve? Or do you only "try" when spoken to, or asked?

Actually at this juncture, I'm not sure and maybe someone can enlighten me, does she speak Mandarin well then? If she doesn't, then it really isn't about her English.. clearly it's her general inability to express herself, and definitely a sign of NOT trying.

We're not being complete snobs when we don't want her to represent our country in a pageant. A pageant winner should embody "the best of" Singapore, at least that is what's being understood in a pageant. It is hard to swallow the fact that the international audience, after watching this pageant, is going to expect that Ris is in fact the BEST girl we could find in Singapore.

Then again, I do agree she must have come under immense amount of pressure after all this drama. I suppose, it really isnt her fault that she was crowned and perhaps she was too nervous in the interview. Truthfully, if she is able to take all this pressure and still represent us, I'd say my respect goes out to her for all her courage and confidence.

And... why is Singapore joining that many pageants (focusing on one and sussing out the best and giving training is better?) when firstly, there aren't many of us (small population). and Secondly, the girls of so-called "good calibre" are not joining anyway?

WEIQING TAN said...

It's not about her English (though yes, it is horrifying). Overall, she just gives a sense of incoherency and utter lack of depth.

As Singaporeans, we are accustomized to broken English. Nothing really fazes us. Ris Low is a combination of airheadedness, trying too hard, AND lack of linguistic abilities.

She's just, like, you know.. booms.

Eugene said...

Hi Sam,

Some perceptive thoughts. Apart from the "poor diction" as you've pointed out, perhaps there are other issues which resulted in the florid criticisms.

From the heavily edited youtube clips, Ris Low, either fairly or unfairly, may comes across to some people as ignorant (for an 19 year-old), and somewhat self-centred, which is what irks many people today, i.e. reflection of materialism in our society today.

However, as a foreigner who's being living in Singapore for a few years, I have noticed this phenomenon of people dissing the winners of beauty pageants here. We should really applaud the contestants here for having the courage and confidence to participate.

Interestingly, having lived in 4 different Asian / Australasian cities, there seems to be a lack of talents in beauty pageants here in Singapore. For example, in any other city, school / universities with significant Asian population, there are always many eligible girls every year keen to participate, ones with both "beauty and brains" so to speak. Incidentally, I found something which may constitute as a fresh case-report to support this observation from my alma mater UNSW (Uni. of New South Wales).

http://blog.tvb.com/winniema/photo/misshk2009.php?pic_id=10&ref=

The underlying reason for this is unclear. Perhaps there are selection biases operating. E.g. the eligible girls with genotypically / phenotypically desirable traits are discouraged from participating or have gone abroad to study, live etc.

Btw, saw your introduction in your blog, so I thought I should introduce myself. Like you, I'm a graduate student of NUS (part-time), and also a tutor of undergraduates. Currently I work in NUHS as a specialist, so I have no competing interests in this matter ;P.

Have a nice day !

Eugene

~Pink Miu Miu~ said...

At last one voice that differs from so many of the others out there.. i pitied her for the 'nasty remarks' + vidz she had to put up juz becoz she wanted to do her best for something she like and yet turned out to be a mocking scene.

Friends also circulated her 'video' during conversations and making big laughter.. at that moment i feel i din fit into that.. i was mocked before (not for language thou) so i understand how it feel to be in that shoe..

To ppl who laughed, criticised or even made videos for her, i say "how would u feel if u are the one being pointed?" but then again no point getting angry over such damn morons for they failed to see what's beyond that..

Joanne said...

The point is, if you portray yourself as an "airhead" to the media, you have to be prepared for the barrage of criticism that is bound to follow. When Eunice Olsen was crowned Miss Singapore, I don't recall her being flamed for it. Ris Low willingly participated in the pageant and interview. She has only herself to blame. I certainly don't pity her.

Joanne said...
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flyingwithcrippledwings said...

it is important to be gracious and kind in the way we react to RIS LOW. at the same time, is there any room for excellence here? Is she the best of the contestents? Or "the best" has never see a reason to participate?

~Pink Miu Miu~ said...

Fair enough granted that taking part in such competitions meant subjecting to certain public scrutiny .. but not to the extent of making spoof videos or sarcastic entries: what tangible or intangible benefits do they get out of these? I cant think of any except H.U.R.T + I.N.S.U.L.T. She also have families and loved ones so spare a thought before u even click the "Ok" button.

Sam Ho said...

like any contest, it depends on the contestants that signed up and turned up.

i mean, it's like the singapore blog awards, and my winning the "most insightful blog" category. in the local blogosphere, i don't think i am the most insightful blog.

by right, a competition is there to pick the best, but if the best don't turn up, we don't get the best.

and what makes the best don't turn up? they fear, among many things, the internet lynchmob.

May28 said...

There's nothing wrong with speaking Singlish or broken English - at home. It's like wearing your tattiest shorts and tees, but you'd want to look your best when you step out for a formal occasion, right? And if you don't have the right clothes, you'd rather not go out underdressed and be ridiculed. So, if you can't speak good English, why participate? Speaking well is part of the whole package too.

Alisa Chopard said...

English is this country's main language (main, not official). It's a language that spans across most countries in the world; it's a common language amongst the Chinese, Malays, Indians and Others. So, logically, when there's a local or regional competition, English is the language everyone should be using, by default. Ris Low's English speaking abilities (I'm sure her written English is just as disastrous) is just shameful. Put that on a worldwide stage, and we'll be the laughing stock of the world. Imagine, such an advanced country and we sent out a girl who can't even pronouce the course she's studying?

My main point: there are many nations, mother tongues, etc, at every competition. It just so happens that English is the language we all use to communicate on a larger scale. For example, great leaders have spoken English when communicating with the rest of the world. Likewise, at Miss World, next to Miss Britain or Miss America, how will it look to have a Singaporean (from a first world country) speak such poor English? If we want to advance on a global scale we need to be able to speak the main language, and speak it well.

I'm Chinese French, and I learnt Malay in my 10 years of school. I often get comments about this, of both disdain and shock. However, it doesn't matter, because I consider English my global tongue. This doesn't mean I deny my Malay language or my Chinese blood (actually, my Mandarin is simply awful). It just means I have learnt to communicate not only with my local citizens, but with people from every country. It's the Singaporeans who don't make an effort to improve their English that will be at a disadvantage years from now.

Case in point, Ris Low. She's not street smart, she's not choosing her words responsibility (example, "boomz" and "printz"), and what's most horrifying is that she's going to be competing with women from countries that list English as their national language. I mean, seriously, who adds 'z' to their words?!

All I'm saying, and this is not an attack on her person or character, is: the judges should have had a bigger picture in mind when they chose Miss Singapore. And they should have used this competition to show the world what Singapore can do,and who they raise as their future leaders.

Hokay, I've ranted enough. :)

Phiphi~* said...

Hey all! I just saw the rest of the contestants.. I guess the judges weren't exactly spoiled for choices. Aside from your discussion, I'll just like to say that there are plenty of beautiful, well-spoken women out there but because of the stigma surrounding beauty pageants, most of our intelligent, gorgeous local girls would rather spend their time making better money than strutting their stuff on stage. Anyway, this whole episode about Ris Low has got entertainment value and is pretty high on humor. Maybe we'll have better contestants next year!

kingdomformydonkey said...

I have nothing against her beauty but dang, she sounds vulgar in that interview!

It would be perhaps much better if the interview was conducted in Mandarin - which I believe much of the people here would not disagree.

Tact is also a form of grace. This is one of the assets Miss SG has got to have. It's too late to cry over spilled milk now but I would propose to send this lady to a speech and tact crash-course, at least that would help a little.

kingdomformydonkey said...

"I get mocked for speaking poor and broken Mandarin, but I still try. And recently, I tried speaking Mandarin to a taxi driver, who told me to continue speaking Mandarin and "heck care" people who react in a mocking way to me."

sam, she is not having a conversation with a taxi driver. that's the difference :)

Hvitur said...

As some other people have pointed out, it's not so much her language as the content of her replies that are appalling.

Though I'd have to be one of the awful, *awful* critics and point out that Singapore has always tried to push itself as an English-speaking Asian country. So why are we sending out a girl who can't pronounce things properly again? And she props herself up to be a fashionista, but any fashionista worth her salt knows that African fashion is not confined solely to animal prints.

I mean. Prings. Animal prings.

Geoffrey said...

What if I tell you now that she is a credit card fraudster?? Do you still want her to represent you???

Alex Easley said...

Hi

let me do stand on a neutral ground and provide my 2 cents
hope that i don't sound too hypocritical here


On Miss Ris Low's side:
1- she is bold enough to step up on stage and take part in such a competition

2- she TRIED to speak english without the typical Singaporean "lah" leh" "loh" & such

3- she is indeed pretty good looking IF you are willing to overlook her speech

4- probably and just PROBABLY her tongue is short and that is just a natural born thing which she can't really help it (no solid ground here, i am just stating a possibility)

5- "Hospitarity" is probably just a slip of tongue due to the nerves, she is infront of national TV after all.

6- from what I've heard she is now taking speech lessons to improve herself and that shows that she is trying very hard

There are a few more points about her which we can applaud for but not the majority of Singaporeans would choose to do so for whatever reason it may be... hence my point for this side with her? she is not really that horrendous.

Coming to the other side
1- She is representing Singapore after all, not to mention that it is a iconic competition which focus heavily on one's image and how they carry themselves... not the best analogy but how would you think about America if William Hung won American Idol

2- From the way she pause, and provide "fashionable advices" its clear that what she said was just last minute scrambles and that just goes to show how much "volume" she has doesn't it?

3- Sam, you mentioned that english may not be her primary language... where did you get that from? if i recalled correctly, since 1980s (or was it 70s? sorry can't recall very well) english was announced to be a primary language to be taught in all schools and institutes excluding a few exception... correct me if i a wrong, but MDIS isn't an exception right?

4- I did not watch the competition as I am no big fan of such shows, but judging from the rave that is going on now, and also from the video of Ris Low... i am suuuuure that other contestant would be much better a choice to represent Singapore

5- As said by you "Yes, I support Ris Low, not because of Ris Low, but because the criticism is stupid and reveals how stupid and insecure we all are" then i would say "No, I'm against Ris Low, not because of Ris Low, but because of people supporting her which reveals how we can get complacent with sub-standards when we are a first world country"

6- the last point against Miss Ris Low... One that was only recently revealed and its not relevant to her speech and dictation, but rather herself as a student, a competitor, an ambassador of Singapore... please click on the following link http://www.asiaone.com/News/AsiaOne%2BNews/Crime/Story/A1Story20090924-169805.html



summary: in my view, all that Miss Ris Low had done wrong is to enter the competition

Patricia Chong said...

I read the news about her being convicted of stealing other's identity and use credit card for buying things for herself I can only say she has a greedy heart how can such person be representing Singapore. Besides the 4 cases convicted she has 60 pending (This is extracted from the article, The first-time offender was sentenced in May this year to 24 months of supervised probation, said a Subordinate Courts spokesman in response to a query from my paper.

Another 60 charges were taken into consideration for the purposes of sentencing, he said.)

Such a disgrace.

Patricia Chong said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
|Г*~` 羼G耄 `~*ぇ| said...

I saw the news about Ris Low being a credit card fraudster so I googled her and that's how I stumbled upon ur site - interesting and well-written! Keep it up! Will come again :)

May28 said...

There are 2 parties at fault here. The contestant, for daring to take part despite her criminal record and the poor standard of her English. And the organisers, for failing to do proper background checks. Send her to represent Singapore? Who's kidding around...

Lawrence said...

I had similar views too giving her the benefit of a doubt...

but considering that singapore's 1st language is english and that there are many who speak their mother tongue at home yet are able to speak proper english.

we are not hong kong or thailand where the mother tongue is the first language.

i'm not asking her to speak in an american or british accent...just proper english.

Seiko05 said...

In my opinion, I don't think people are slamming her for her broken English..or Singlish as such. She can speak with whatever slang she wants to truely represent Singapore. But what's disturbing is, she committed fraud..and she certainly did not sound like an intelligent woman who cares about anything but herself. So do we really want someone who is 'all about me' to be our ambassador? I'm sure we have better candidates than her. At least someone more sincere, and natural? To me, she is really fake. Not herself at all.

Seiko05 said...

May I also add...she sounded waaayy too shallow.

Jude said...

Now the issue is not about her diction, her standard of spoken English and what nots. It's her morals. We (Singaporeans) want someone who gives the true representation of who we are to the world. Do we want a criminal to represent us? Do we want the world to see all of us as cheats and thieves? Publicity can be a useful tool, but having it for all the wrong reasons will tarnish our international standing everywhere.

Now all her dirty linen is shown publically, noting that she purposefully decieve ALL Singaporean with her gall to go through the competition and win it in deceit. If she was open and vivid about her past, showing remorse and seeks forgiveness, we would have let her pursue her dreams. But she's so blatant to keep everything under wraps, hoping nobody will find out until now.

This competition is not just about her dreams, she must understand that she is carrying the reputation of Singapore with her wherever she goes. She's not representing herself, she's representing Singapore. She must get this into braidy brain of hers. There is always a stringent process to screen / scrutinise every applicant who will be representing Singapore in any area, be it politics, sports etc. So why should she be given the leniency and exception? This would be unfair to all those who worked so hard ETHICALLY to be given a decent chance for an opportunity to represent our country. Ris Low doesn't.

Those of us who criticize her are not angels ourselves, but the general expectation of ethics must as much as possible be adhered to. Ris must bow out of the race immediately. The event company should be taken to task for fraud.

Jude said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
deadfish said...

represent what. It's a beauty contest, and it's a form of low culture(low culture is not necessery inferior to pretentious high culture). What do you EXPECT?

Anyway TOLONG PUN CHANCE.

Bai Hu said...

I have mixed reactions to her win in the Ms Singapore title.
Firstly, it deprives other 'more qualified contestants' whom (my opinion only) are obviously better & deserve more to win.
Secondly, she should try to improve & work hard in the language when "what if she wins the contest?" & she needs to face the international crowd.
Thirdly, when u watch other beauty pagents like Miss Universe, there are also many other countries' contestants who need interpreters. I must applaud her for being brave & at least try to speak English (something she is obviously not comfortable in).
Finally, i am sure many of her critics are even worst than her & by highlighting her weakness, it is also highlighting theirs too.
Unfortunately, today i read about her credit card fraud. Now, we can brush all other critisms away as her morals are called in question.

lexi complexi said...

Sam Ho, this just shows that SIngapore needs your voice, whether they appreciate it or not. Keep it up :)

zewt said...

very valid points, though i am not a singaporean.

i just think the emphasis singaporeans and malaysians place on english is ridiculous. so many of cant even converse fluently in our mother tongue and we want to condemn those who cant speak a foreign language.

::: I aM wHo I aM ::: said...

For one, I'd like to emphasize on my views on doing self-reflect before heading for big pageants/contests. I mean, if U r going for a beauty pageant and will be representing Spore to the world, speaking proper English is definitely the most basic prerequisites. Yes? No? If one is going to take part in the Spore Idol.. isn't it all about being intuned, groovy and melodious? And not courageous, thick-skinned, wacky. I think the organisers/judges are too lenient and they ought to be responsible too for any stirups the contest has caused.

Yes, Ris Low is unfortunate to be the first in many years to be criticised and put down by a lot of netizens even the public and has stirred up the youtube scene quite a bit. We must not forget her 'BOOMS' became part of the HOT lingo between our friends. She created a Booms culture now. I mean, how many pple can do that overnight? I must give it to her.

Well, to sum up, I think God is fair. Let's not cry over spilled milk. Let Ris have some peace and make some merits for ourselves. We are not perfect either.

*tiffanie* said...

oh come on.. to even THINK of joining beauty pageant, one has to be almost perfect.. face it! That's the reality. Don't have what it takes? Not ready to be criticized or mocked? Then honey, don't. Do yourself a big favour and get out of the light, give others who deserve it SO MUCH BETTER that golden opportunity to do the job. What a laughing stock, really.

anon said...

..."But the reality is, in doing so, we further invisibilise other segments of the community, who may not have the upbringing or opportunities that endow them with good English."...

firstly "invisibilise" is not a word,
secondly a good command in english is up to you not your upbringing or opportunities you are given. There are many poor people who speak good english. Simply practice or read ? are you familiar with that?

bits of SE in DC said...

I'm a Singaporean living in D.C. and thanks to the internet, my American friends were asking me if I know about this recent report on her. Gosh!! I am just puzzled, how did the judges came to the decision on this pageant?? The level of performance from other contestants??
*I'm away from home too long, so I have no idea how the Beauty Pageant in SG pick their winner.

Mark said...

Agreed.

belle said...

I feel for the poor girl who's getting all this bad press when she's just being herself, but I cannot help but lament -- on behalf of an educated and developed society -- that surely this island of 4 million has more than enough beautiful women with brains to pick from?

... Surely Ris' standard of speaking is not the highest that Singaporean women have...?

... Surely Ris' values and ideals are not the highest that Singaporean women hold....?

... Surely Ris' personality isn't the most impressive and outstanding among women in Singapore...?

... Surely, there are more beautiful, talented, confident and articulate women whom Singapore can show off with pride (not embarrassment!)?

Jayashri(: said...

It may be true that Ris' English isn't very good... but it strikes me as important that the winner speak good English. Many of the other countries' winners speak fluently and coherently; I think we ought to do the same. Despite it being a beauty pageant, other factors (such as intelligence, personality, and whatnot) do come into play and I think that language should be one of them as well. Speaking English well puts one across as a global citizen capable of international communication... and I like this image. With all the bad press we, as a country, have had to put up with, we don't need more.

Cheers!

Lingxuan said...

I agree with your view that the society is too harsh on her too.

Actually i think she's not really that ugly. she has some oriental beauty that if she has the personality, she would be able to carry it out well.

I agree with you about the language part too. It's rather difficult to speak standard English if you grew up in a neighbourhood environment. My spoken English is crap too, written English is still fine, if I am given the time to check.

pUnK RoX said...

Hi Sam, i have just seen her videos today after hearing so much regarding her rumours from my lecturer and i just happen to be a passerby reading your blog when i was surfing the net.

well, I strongly agree with everything that you've stated in your blog. I felt the same way as you do about people going around criticizing which reveals their real personality and its saddening.

I'm far more disappointed with singaporeans who brings her down just like that than Ris Low's mistakes.

To People out there:

If anyone wants to argue with what im going to say just save it for yourself. I dont personally know either Sam or Ris Low im just sharing my thoughts and leave so please dont leave any nonsense comments, greatly appreciated.

Have you guys ever thought of how the consequences would be if she couldn't handle all those insults? what if she couldn't take it did something foolish and ended her life just like that? Will you be able to forgive yourself?

She might seem to be strong after all those setbacks but she's still a young woman afterall.

I seriously hope that people can be more forgiving and live with a kind heart and do their best to save human nature from becoming worse.

So live life in a meaningful way.

And Sam thanks for being someone thoughtful :) I hope those who are ignorant will learn from your perspective and make the world a better place.

Lastly, a message to all, everyone has their own talents in different ways, no one's stupid as long as they work hard. If anyone ever being pulled down by people around you, please dont assume whatever they say will be right especially if they themselves think they are smart. Believe in yourself.

pUnK RoX said...

Hi Sam, i have just seen her videos today after hearing so much regarding her rumours from my lecturer and i just happen to be a passerby reading your blog when i was surfing the net.

well, I strongly agree with everything that you've stated in your blog. I felt the same way as you do about people going around criticizing which reveals their real personality and its saddening.

I'm far more disappointed with singaporeans who brings her down just like that than Ris Low's mistakes.

To People out there:

If anyone wants to argue with what im going to say just save it for yourself. I dont personally know either Sam or Ris Low im just sharing my thoughts and leave so please dont leave any nonsense comments, greatly appreciated.

Have you guys ever thought of how the consequences would be if she couldn't handle all those insults? what if she couldn't take it did something foolish and ended her life just like that? Will you be able to forgive yourself?

She might seem to be strong after all those setbacks but she's still a young woman afterall.

I seriously hope that people can be more forgiving and live with a kind heart and do their best to save human nature from becoming worse.

So live life in a meaningful way.

And Sam thanks for being someone thoughtful :) I hope those who are ignorant will learn from your perspective and make the world a better place.

Lastly, a message to all, everyone has their own talents in different ways, no one's stupid as long as they work hard. If anyone ever being pulled down by people around you, please dont assume whatever they say will be right especially if they themselves think they are smart. Believe in yourself.

little miss sunshine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
little miss sunshine said...

Well honestly, I didn't even consider her language or pronounciation to be one of the factors for me to dislike her at all.

Firstly, in general, Singaporeans do not speak perfect English. It's not that they cannot, but sometimes it's just because they choose not to. For example, when I am making presentations, yes, I would have to stick to better English. But when I'm just chit-chatting with my friends, it would be more comfortable and appropriate to just converse in Singlish.

Secondly, yes I do agree that not everyone has English as their best spoken language, especially if the person's background or environmental factors did not allow so.

However, what I found extremely distasteful about Ris Low was the fact that she kept lying or twisting the facts... and this led to a snowballing effect.

For example, she mentioned that she was an ambassador for NLB and was having lessons with Dr Seet in NUS. Both were untrue, as mentioned in the New Paper.

Also, the fact that she did not seem to learn from her mistakes was rather irritating to me as well. Well, she stole when she was young, but I'm sure there are quite a few young children who have done so for the thrill of it as well. Next up, the credit card fraud, whereby she was placed on probation. Following that, despite getting into trouble, she went on to cheat in her examinations.

And she attributed everything to her bipolar disorder. However, I feel that this is merely just a case of trying to shift the problems to something else, like a physical condition to explain for all of her wrongdoings. However, to be very honest, a person who is having a mental disorder, would not be able to know that she is actually doing something wrong BECAUSE of a mental disorder.

For example, ask a mad person if he is mad. Will he say he is? Absolutely not. In fact, these people will try every bit to tell you that they are not having any mental disorders at all.

In conclusion, while English language may not be her strong point, I am not disliking her merely because of that issue.

Sam Ho said...

"Firstly, in general, Singaporeans do not speak perfect English. It's not that they cannot, but sometimes it's just because they choose not to."

I think there are people who try to speak, but still can't pronounce certain words in a proper manner.

I mean, it's not as if all poor people are poor because they didn't work hard. Same goes for poor speakers of English, as it is not as it they chose not to. If we individualise people's problems, we might not be able to unable the conditions that have some part to play in the problems.

I agree on the lying bit. It's definitely very interesting why there are persons out there who lie a lot, or rather, create untrue things about themselves.

Grace said...

Dear Sam,

You'll probably not see this comment until very much later on. Just want to say how I admire you looked at this issue from another point of view..intrinsically instead of extrinsically. I've personally have not followed the news on Ris Low closely,but I've read about it here and there and have wondered a few times as well how she won the title. I still don't think that think that she makes the best rep for reasons other than her english (that is will be left for another time), but I just want to let you know that you've given me (and a lot of other people I believe) food for thought. Well done! =) I felt that it needed to be said. All the best with future blog entries!

SVPS 2.5 Blog said...

Hi Atticus,

It's not her broken English that I'm discrediting her for. It is her lack of ethics that is disturbing. Bipolar disorder is the prevailing lame excuse that defence attorneys are using for their clients in their defence. Who on earth doesn't have his/her ups and downs? Ris Low was not a five-year-old kid who didn't know what she was doing when she faked signatures on the credit card bills. Neither is she suffering from severe medical mental conditions such as schizophrenia or Tourette's Syndrome. She should count herself lucky and grateful that nobody is asking her to be put in jail. To be asking to represent her nation in an international beauty pageant is simply too much. Let me put it candidly to you, how do you feel if it had been your credit card that she had been abusing and your were made to pay, say $10 000, for her expenditure on posh restuarants and lingerie? Banks will hold you accountable and make you pay for fraudalent purchases that are made before you report loss of your card.
We should by all means forgive and give criminals and offenders a second chance in society. We are all flesh and blood and we are falliable, we need to be given opportunites to learn from our mistakes. Ok, I'll give her the benefit of doubt about her examination -- that she had no intention to cheat and she suffered from memory loss, (which is another good defence weapon for lawyers)
The point is pertaining to credit card frauds, has Ris Low been genuinely penitent or does she think that bipolar disorder sufferers have very right and good reason to bend and act in their whims and fancies?
You wrote that you "support Ris Low", that is a very strong statement. What is it about her that you support? I am not talking about Singlish here.

Regards,
AT

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study abroad

A said...

awesome entry.
i'm australian and was astounded by the lampooning of this woman. she is i suppose the equivalent of the Aussie bogan, and here in Australia, we can't discern one Singaporean to another - except for those with the postcolonial hang up and over privilege the English language.

of course in australia we valorize our criminals and our "battlers".

It's really an interesting place for postcolonial/identity studies, but interestingly, not that much comes out of Singapore.

Emoporer said...

Unfortunately, 'trying' isn't enough to survive and much less succeed in the real world. In fact, trying is too easy and you only get rewarded if you're dedicated enough to improve. You don't get points for trying at a job interview nor a beauty pageant. What they're looking for are your strengths and being willing to try on its own isn't of any use.