Saturday, December 29, 2007

Law breakers abound in the Fine City

Creative Commons image from synnwang.
Creative Commons image from magnusvk

The world generally thinks all Singaporeans are law-abiding people who would not even cross a deserted road junction before the ‘green man’ appears. But we Singaporeans know better don’t we? From littering to speeding, from illegal parking to soliciting, from buying illegal 4D to feeding monkeys, we live by the army motto; You can do anything; just don’t get caught. This would explain our sudden change of behaviour whenever we cross the causeway into Malaysia (aka Bolehland), where shall we say, the authorities are more tolerant of litter bugs and speedsters.

But back to the tiny red dot. Caught, we seldom are. Everyday you find people writing to the forum pages of our local newspapers lamenting the widespread flouting of our laws. And each time the relevant authority will come back with the standard reply. Oh we take a serious stand against this problem. Last year our enforcement officers issued summons to X thousand offenders. We seek the public’s cooperation to stem out this problem. If you see anyone committing this offence, please call this number.

And the problem persists.

The only time you see some real action from the authorities is when one of the following three things happen.

1) A tragedy occurs and lots of unpleasant publicity is generated.

2) The newspaper reporters take pity on us and decide to do a huge coverage of the problem. The recent reporting about touting by taxi-drivers is a good example.

3) Some big-shot minister complains. Remember how they decided to ban chewing gum because S. Dhanabalan remarked that people who chewed gum looked like cows. (OK lah, I exaggerate a little, but you know what I mean right?)

Let’s take the latest farce for example. Today’s Straits Times carried a big report of a pregnant lady whose plastic bag got snatched by some monkeys at the MacRitchie Reservoir. Much of the blame goes to those baboons who cannot resist feeding their cousins. We see them every time at the reservoir parks. I went to Upper Pierce Reservoir on Christmas day and saw several cars stopped by the roadside and the occupants happily feeding monkeys despite the huge signs threatening a fine of $250 dollars. From the look of it, I think some of those folks went to the park for the specific purpose of feeding the monkeys. And it was a family affair too.

As expected, in the Straits Times report, the Nparks (National Parks Board) appealed to the public to report such offenders if they came across them – as if it was such a rare occurrence. Exactly the same thing happened some months ago with the problem of drivers who left their engines running in the car parks. It appears the traffic police (or should that be the NEA?) did not know that any day of the week, if you go to a multi-storey car park in the HDB heartlands during mid-day, you are sure to see taxi-drivers and truck drivers snoozing away with their car engines and air-cons running.

Anyway, now that the issue has been blown up by the press, the authorities will spring into action over the next few weeks and then guess what will happen? Everything will just go back to the ‘normal’.

I think there are three possible explanations for this strange phenomenon in our country. It could mean that our population is growing too fast and the authorities simply do not have the manpower to cope. Or the ever ‘ting hua’ ( 听话or obedient) Singaporeans are heeding our dear leaders’ exhortation to be more ready to take risks. But I think it’s probably because Singaporeans are getting too rich, and a few hundred dollars is ‘peanuts’ to them - and some have so much peanuts that they simply have to share it with their cousins.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Our Indian friends up north should read this

The street protests by Indians in Malaysia have been very much in the news lately. A rally organized by the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) recently, attracted thousands of Indians to the streets of Kuala Lumpur. They wanted to submit a petition with 100,000 signatures to Queen Elizabeth II to appoint a Queen’s Counsel to represent the Indian community in a class action suit against the British government for bringing Indians as labourers to the then Malaya and thereafter exploiting them.

If I were speaking on behalf of the British, I would ask the protesters to take a look at the front page of the 30 November 2007 edition of Singapore’s TODAY newspaper.

In it, you will see the faces of two prominent Indian Singaporeans. Tharman Shanmugaratnam is the present Minister for Education. He will be given another important portfolio today, that of the Finance ministry. The other picture is that of Vivian Balakrishnan, another high-flying Indian who at the age of 44 became Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports as well as Second Minister for Trade and Industry in 2005. In fact, we have another Indian holding an even higher position. He is deputy prime minister Assoc. Prof. Jayakumar.

The question that I will ask our Malaysian friends is this: Weren’t the forefathers of Mr Tharman and Dr Vivian and thousands of Singaporean Indians similarly brought in to the then Malaya as labourers by the British? How come no Singaporean Indian is sueing the British government?

The answer is obvious isn’t it? If you really want to sue someone, you should sue your own politicians; especially the half-Indian who ruled Malaysia for 22 years.