And on Saturday: Top 10 malu moments of 2016 (Part 2)

Dec 24, 2016 12.00PM |

by Felix Cheong


6. Let’s talk about sex, baby

IT WAS the stuff of dirty memes and dirtier jokes, a line that could have been scripted by the wise guys behind The Noose.

But nay. It came from the horse’s mouth – specifically, Senior Minister of State Josephine Teo’s: “You need a very small space to have sex.”

This was uttered, straight-faced but not so straitlaced, as a rejoinder to young couples’ complaints that they need a flat first to have a child. (Mrs Teo oversees the National Population and Talent Division.)

However pro-procreation her message is, you can’t help but wonder what kind of kinky subculture has just been endorsed by the G.

Closet sex, crawlspace sex, car sex – if it can barely fit two bare bodies, it’s fair game and game on!


7. Paging Kenneth Yeo Wee

What do you do when your boss tasks you to find a replacement for Kenneth Yeo Wee? Why, you advertise for a replacement for Kenneth Yeo Wee, of course!

This was the duh! moment the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA, renamed IMDA after its merger with MDA in August) had to deal with in June. The job posting for a permanent, middle-level position was inadvertently advertised on several job portals as “Replacement for Kenneth Yeo Wee”.

The statutory board had to make a sheepish apology and the human resource employee responsible for the boo-boo was duly “counselled” (civil-service speak for a dressing down). It was not reported if he was made to post a job ad calling for a replacement for himself.

Come 2020, perhaps he might be called upon to write an ad for “Replacement for Lee Hsien Loong”.

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8. Color Me Badd

Three incidents this year have coloured my perception whether Racial Harmony Day (celebrated annually on July 21) should simply be renamed Racial Cosplay Party.

Despite multiculturalism being central to the Singapore Core, there is still a lot of cultural ignorance. Three such boo-boos took place in October, one after the other.

The first was The Smart Local’s not-so-smart and definitely-not-very-local video titled “Singaporeans Try: Indian Snacks”. (The title itself is a dead giveaway of the ignoramus – or ignoramuses – behind it.)

It featured the website’s staff (presumably Singaporean) eating Indian snacks as if they were on Fear Factor trying alien food.

That naturally alienated many Singaporean Indians. To add chilli padi to the injury, the video ended with a cheery “Happy Deepavali”.

As my grandmother used to scold me: “Happy your head ah!”  

In the same week, Mediacorp’s online streaming service Toggle found itself toggling between sheepishness and rueful apology when it pulled an episode of its drama series I Want to be a Star from circulation.

The reason? Actor Shane Pow was seen wearing an Afro wig and, more embarrassingly, black face make-up.

The Pow! that greeted such blatant racism on social media was heartening. But within a few days, it was upstaged by another incident.

A Cold Storage outlet had put up a sign advertising a 38 per cent Deepavali discount on beef – perhaps a last-ditch attempt to beef up sales?

That this is akin to a Hari Raya promo on pork must’ve been lost on the junior staff who had put this up. To its credit, the supermarket chain quickly stopped the promo and apologised for its staff’s insensitivity.

That such incidents crop up almost every year – remember actress Sharon Au imitating an Indian girl’s accent during a National Day event last year? – show multiculturalism here is still very much a work in progress.


9. You can’t tell it’s a fake?

When a camera manufacturer can’t tell if a winning photo has been doctored, it’s time for a face-palm moment.

This was exactly what happened in January when Nikon awarded the first prize of its photography contest to Mr Chay Yu Wei.

His winning shot, titled “Look Up”, showed a plane flying overhead, framed by a ladder.

If Nikon had bothered to look up such an image and/or look closely at it, it would’ve known the shot wasn’t an original idea and, more importantly, spotted the telltale signs of Photoshop.

Instead, it had to wait for netizens to do the CSI and out the cheat, who apologised for his “mistake”, claiming his aim in adding the plane was “just for fun”.

The excuse certainly didn’t fly with anyone, especially since it was clearly a photography competition, not Photoshop.


10. Ho Ho Ho! Just monkeying around

By far the most tantalising malu moment this year must be Ms Ho Ching’s April post of a monkey raising its middle finger.

That such a rude photo was uploaded on Twitter by the Prime Minister’s wife – and the CEO of Temasek Holdings – was newsworthy enough. But it was the timing that had tongues wagging and wags telling tall tales.

This was in the middle of a public spat between Mr Lee Hsien Loong and his sister, Dr Lee Wei Ling, over the first-year commemoration of their father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

Names like “dishonorable son” were called. The Straits Times got dragged into the mess because Dr Lee’s regular column was scrapped. There were accusations of censorship and talk of plagiarism.

Lee v Lee – it was as good a prelude as it got to the Hollywood summer blockbuster Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

In the end, it took a monkey – rightfully, in the Year of the Monkey – to break the stalemate.

Ms Ho, describing herself as a “Twitter newbie”, apologised for her mis-tweet.

By way of mending fences, she also said: “There are enough troubles in the world. Far from adding oil to fires, I would prefer we try to solve and resolve problems, among friends, within families and between neighbours.”

Nice move – using laughter to deflate tension, deflect attention and direct people to see sense.


This is my last And on Saturday column. Thanks for reading my pieces over the past year. It’s been a fun ride/write. Have a great Christmas!


Featured image by Sean Chong.

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