Thursday, September 21, 2017

Oh No – Not Again.

I somehow managed to avoid posting anything about Exercise Swift Lion despite the fact that it was the 20th anniversary of that very dark period my life and the life of everyone I served together with. It was a moment in our youth when we had the horrible, heart-break experience of having to watch our friends come home in a body bag. It’s been 20-years since but I still remember what Ronnie’s face looked like in casket – it didn’t look anything like him. He was a good guy who had his whole life ahead of him and he didn’t deserve to have it cut down because some bureaucrat in defense procurement couldn’t be bothered to their checks properly. For me, it was a moment of being sad, scared and pissed off.

I spend 19-years making sure I had something to say about that incident because I felt and I still feel that if Ronnie and Yin Tit had to die, they shouldn’t have died in vain. It’s the feeling of knowing that you’re not much of the scale of things but you try your best to make sure that no other kids have to go through the same thing that you went through.

Well, I somehow let my usual piece lapse. I paid my respects on the online Facebook forum that was set up for our batch but that was all that I did. In one way, it’s probably a good sign that we’ve finally reached the stage where you’re able to let the dead lie where they are and you think that the sadness, pain and fear that you felt on that day has finally subsided.
Then, the news tells you otherwise – I’m now reading about a boy, who was pretty much like Ronnie (last to book out, first to book in, always helpful to colleagues and his men and never having a bad word to say about anyone) being crushed to death when his armoured vehicle turned sideways and ended up crushing him. The story can be read at -

Bionix Infantry Fighting Vehicle
The Bionix Infantry Fighting Vehicle 

When I read about such incidents, my heart sinks a little bit more. You get a little pissed off with whatever divine powers are out there for thinking it’s very funny to knock of the good ones.
Then, there’s a feeling of sadness that someone out there is feeling the same sadness that you once had to experience. In a way, I’m blessed with the fact that the immediate child in my life is a girl, so she won’t have the same army type experience I had (not that girls are easy to deal with) but then again, that’s not true. There was Yooga, son of my ex-girlfriend. I’d be crushed if the little bugger was crushed by an armoured vehicle or blown up in a live firing accident. While I’ve not had these major accidents happen to me directly, having seen it once and having had to live through the aftermath and the grief, I ask myself – why should anyone be forced to live through the grief?

Related image
The Happy Part that the Minister gets to See 

I don’t know why young boys get killed through accidents like these. Only sign of progress since that day 20-years ago is that there’s greater public participation in reporting these incidents. At least we got to know that the late 3SG Gavin Chan was one of the good guys and knowing that should inspire someone out there to try and do something to ensure such incidents don’t happen. I only wish we could have made it known that Ronnie and Yin Tit were part of the good guys and didn’t deserve to get cut down when they were cut down. 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Meet Singapore’s First Short, Fat and Bald President

Singapore has a new President and that lady is Madam Halimah Yacob, our former Speaker of Parliament. Madam Halimah’s rise to the Presidency was never in doubt but it was controversial. It all started with the fact that this was an election reserved for “ethnic Malays.” It turned out that the definition of a Malay became controversial because every candidate wasn’t quite “ethnic Malay.” All of them had a dose of “Indian-Muslim” blood (made sense in as much as the other criteria of being a President in Singapore means you’d have to have ran a company with $500 million in turnover and generally speaking Singapore’s Indian Muslims are business people while our Malay community generally isn’t). The controversy got even worse when one of our Ministers tried to define what it meant to be a Malay and generally ended up sticking his foot in his mouth.

Personally, I don’t have an issue with reserving the highest office in the land for someone from the Malay community. I actually think its high time someone from the Malay community got a shot at the top job. Singapore may claim to be international and our population may be 70 percent Chinese but the truth of the matter is that, we are part of the “Malay” world and in a way, if you take out the list of idiots in UMNO across the border, the Malay world has been exceedingly hospitable. The national language of Singapore is “Malay” and Malay culture is an important part of Singapore. Let’s put it this way – military commands in my mind are always given in Malay and as one of my friends said, “I will NEVER accept my national anthem being in anything other than Malay.”

Having said that, reserving a job for a race opens up a few issues. Why do we necessarily have to restrict things to race or religion? One might argue that certain groups are disadvantaged because they happen to be in the demographic minority and giving them the top job (the word top is used selectively. – top in this case is a matter of protocol rather than anything significant. Like the Queen of England, our President does what he is told to do by the Prime Minister.) to an ethnic minority does keep tensions at bay. Lee Kuan Yew mentions specifically that he needed Yousuf Ishak to be our first President because he needed to show the Malaysians that a Malay in Singapore could be our Head of State (or Yang Di Pertuan, though he was not Yang Di Pertuan Agong.) But that was then and this is now. Are race and religion the only things that separate people?

I’d argue that while race and religion still remain powerful dividers, there are other factors that divide people. If you look at it this way, the one group that suffers in society is known as the short, fat and the bald. Regardless of race, language or religion, it seems quite acceptable to make the short, fat and bald feel miserable for the mere sin of being short, fat and bald.

Looking good but still under appreciated - the price of being short, fat and bald

It’s not just acceptable to make the short, fat and bald feel miserable – it’s actually desired to mock the short, fat and bald. A good portion of Singapore’s economy would collapse if people didn’t give a hoot about being short, fat or bald? The slimming centres and hair restoring shops would shut down and people would be thrown out of work.

As someone how started losing his hair in his late teens and gained wait in his early thirties, I think its time that the short, the fat and bald took a stand and damn the fate of slimming centres and hair restoring shops. A bit of pride in being who you are would do much more for everyone that keeping shops open that stay open merely because there are lots of miserable people around.

So, why can’t we reserve the next election for someone who is short, fat or bald or a combination of the lot? I propose myself to be Singapore’s first-ever fat and bald president and one of my acts would be to import lots of Massai tribesmen to make myself look shorter to the rest of the population so that I become Singapore’s first ever short, fat and bald President. 

I think I’d make a good President. I enjoy walking with the troops (even if I was a substandard 155mm gunner), which is an essential skill for being President. I also have a good wave – another essential skill in being President.

In terms of dealing with foreign dignitaries, I believe I would be a hit. I speak decent enough English to keep the British and the Americans onside. One of the best things about an English education is that you know about sports like rugby and cricket. I’d make great palls with the lot Down Under over a pint and a discussion on rugby.
While my spoken Chinese is crap, I’ve been out with enough girls from the PRC to appreciate the beauty that China has to offer. I can see myself getting on with Xi-Jin Peng.

However, I believe that my talents would be best utilized with the Middle East and India. I know that Dubai is not the entire sum of the Arab world and I happened to make a group of Iranian tourists feel very happy when I said “Salaam” and acknowledged that there’s a difference between Iran and the Arab world.

 I may be fat and bald but in a world of increasing diversity and in a situation where Singapore needs to look to new markets, what couldn’t be better than a President who has actually looked at map?