Tuesdays at Ipster Cafe: Attack of the kaypoh mafia

Dec 06, 2016 11.30AM |

by Joshua Ip

In 2016 Singapore lives in a cloud of fear
Where cyber-vigilantes now police the public sphere
No need for courts, due process, or a neutral media —
Our country is in thrall to a brigade of bao tou kia.

They lurk around the Internet like trolls lurking in grottos.
They’re scared to show their faces, so they have no profile photos.
Their favourite trade is loud tirades cloaked in obscurity.
They’re noisy but they like to shout “silent majority!”

Who are these shady characters, so dank and sinister?
Why do they like to complain every day to Minister?
These keyboard warriors guard the gates, so deeply paranoid,
Because they have no life, they must delight in schadenfreude!

See something they’re not happy with? A show they won’t attend?
Then no one can attend it! Asian values! Must defend!
One rambling complaint post from them with incoherent grammar,
Then some poor civil servant has to deal with all the clamour.

See one book they don’t like? Triggered! Offended! They must help!
Just swarm the NLB with complain letters – penguins pulped!
See happy LGBTs holding picnic in a park?
Insinuate that foreigners have motives deep and dark!

Our government in all its wisdom, rules with a soft touch:
By which it means that one complaint is one complaint too much.
So opaque unelected private Internet dark forces
Can overturn a public and transparent artist process.

Social media amplifies both rage and influence.
Before it, we lived with more tolerance (or ignorance.)
Raised our kids how we wanted to and left others’ alone.
This is what happens when you give kaypohs a megaphone.


Joshua Ip is a poet and founder of Sing Lit Station, a literary non-profit that organises Singapore Poetry Writing Month, Manuscript Bootcamp, poetry.sg and other activities to promote writing in Singapore.


Featured image by Sean Chong.

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