Each morning while I wait for my iced kopi in a bag from the uncle across the street, I glance at the stack of newspapers (half in English, half in Chinese). Headlines primarily seem to deal with 1) The government over-spending/some government figure being busted for corrupt actions 2) Education initiatives 3) Maids either acting up or being abused. Singapore in a nutshell!
Every now and then, though, the headlines (particularly in the New Paper) are so ridiculous I can’t help but take a picture to share with my friends on facebook. Since these seem to generate more likes and comments than just about anything I post (aside from photos of Avon, of course), I figured I’d share some recent highlights.
Western celebrities have been pulling this attention-grabbing stunt for years, but here when actresses Kate Pang and Vivian Lai pecked for one whole second (!) at the Star Awards there was genuine public outrage. I’m not quite sure what the results of the MDA Probe were (talk about wasteful government spending), but I am quite sure the New Paper saw a spike in newsstand sales on May 4.
It’s stuff like this that makes me love living in Singapore. “Woman calls man who parked in yellow box arrogant. He calls her rude.” I don’t think The Onion could even come up with such banal satire. God this place is safe. As my Singaporean friend Joanna astutely commented, The New Paper is such a tabloid, and yet it’s not even about interesting people!
The Straits Times is Singapore’s primary and most-respected paper (nevermind that it’s owned by the government and Singapore ranks 110th in press freedom … just behind Iraq, nice one guys!). Anyhooo, I was genuinely moved by the outpouring of national pride for table tennis player Feng Tianwei, who won the country’s first individual medal in 52 years.
Corny as it sounds, it’s sort of what the Olympics are all about, right? In the U.S. we are so spoiled by our army of swimmers and track stars and gymnasts, and anything less than winning the medal count would be considered a disappointment. Feng came in ranked 8th in the world and upset the #6 player. To see the island-wide elation over a bronze medal was just really wonderful and felt a lot purer than our medal glut. (That said, I never got sick of listening to the Star-Spangled Banner each time an American topped the podium. America, fuck yeah!).
I learned a couple days later that Feng is actually Chinese (she moved here in 2007) and there was a bit of grumbling about the fact that she’s not a “true Singaporean,” but since the US poaches athletes all the time I’m not too bothered by it. Feng and teammates Li Jiawei and Wang Yuegu (also both China-born, incidentally), went on to take the team bronze for table tennis as well, marking the first time in history that Singapore has won two medals at an Olympics.
There are two wonderfully Singaporean angles to the whole story: 1) As a reward for their medals the women were upgraded to business class on Singapore Airlines on their flight back from London. (I kind of can’t believe that a government wouldn’t want all of its athletes to fly in maximum comfort, especially when it owns the airline, but whatever).
2) The government has taken it upon itself to find Feng a boyfriend. Seriously, this task is under the charge of Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports Chan Chun Sing. According to Channel News Asia the suitor must be Singaporean, he must speak Mandarin, and it “would also be better if he is supportive of Feng in her table tennis career.” Ya think?
Not that I find binge drinking to be funny (fun sometimes yes, but not funny), but the fact that it could be reaching U.S. Levels [proceed to clutch pearls] is simply shocking (slash hilarious). I just have so many questions about this. Where was this photo taken? Do we even know these girls are drunk? How are these drinking levels measured?
Of all the comments this photo received on my facebook wall, the best came from my friend Mark in Edinburgh: “They should get worried when it’s reaching Scottish levels.” Recalling my six months there where I had to walk through crowds of people peeing, vomiting and bleeding in the streets on a regular basis, I’m inclined to agree.
As amusing as all these headlines are, what I honestly love best is that this shows how freaking good life really is here. Considering U.S. headlines reduce me to tears on a near-daily basis (see: shootings, “legitimate” rape, the ailing economy, the rise of “Honey Boo Boo” and so on), I’ll take binge-drinking young women and rude parents parking illegally any day of the week.