May 26, 2017

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Authors Posts by Felix Cheong

Felix Cheong

Felix Cheong
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Felix Cheong is an award-winning author of 10 books, including the satirical Singapore Siu Dai series. He teaches journalism at the University of Newcastle and Murdoch University.

illustration of police report.

by Felix Cheong

It seems like Singaporeans have found themselves a new pastime – filing police reports. The past week alone saw two police reports filed against former Nominated MP Calvin Cheng, for incitement to violence. Add to that police reports filed against Amos Yee earlier this year, filed by National Solidarity Party, and another by Workers Party candidate Daniel Goh during GE2015 and so on, and it seems like our boys in blue have no time to nab criminals but spend their days attending to people with grievances to air.

In the satirical story below, writer Felix Cheong speculates what would happen if we took this habit too far.

 

To cater to Singaporeans’ increasing urge to file police reports, for big matters or trivial pursuits that take place at home or in the office, there will be a new assessment component in this year’s GCE ‘O’ level English paper.

Designed by Cambridge especially for the local market, the ‘Filing a Police Report’ component is worth twenty percent of the overall grade.

Students are expected to imagine themselves sitting in a freezing neighbourhood police post, armed with a pen and a heavy dose of grievance, facing a police corporal at the end of his long shift. Students are to write a clear, coherent report based on vague facts.

They may choose from one of the following scenarios:

– A mother who cannot control her son with a bad haircut
– A blogger whose ego is two sizes too big for her head, complaining about another blogger whose mouth is two sizes too big for her face
– A politician complaining about another politician complaining about another politician complaining about the first politician

Students have forty minutes to complete the task. They will be assessed on how they sequence events such that they appear so aggrieved, pained or fearful that a police report is deemed a civic necessity.

A separate component, ‘Writing a Petition’, is currently being planned by Cambridge and is expected to be implemented next year.

 

Felix Cheong is an award-winning author of 10 books, including the satirical Singapore Siu Dai series.

 

Featured image by Najeer Yusof.

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by Felix Cheong

“Humbug!”

These days, the more you sink your teeth into the news, the more you find a dental appointment might be in order. It was probably why Dickens’ character, Scrooge, uttered that immortal word in A Christmas Carol. You turn the pages of the newspapers and can’t help but exclaim, in a voice Singlish enough to attract the Speak Good English police: Wah piang oi, has the world gone to the dogs?

Image The rainbow dog by Flickr user Enrico, CC BY 2.0
Image The rainbow dog by Flickr user Enrico, CC BY 2.0

In Thailand, apparently so. A factory worker was charged on Tuesday with insulting the Thai King’s dog, under the country’s strict lèse majesté lawsWe know that every dog has its day – but to have its day in court? Would prosecutors have to prove that the man’s bark is worse than his bite? This certainly gives a new spin to the journalism adage that when man bites dog, it is news.

Wags would also have a field day with the tale of Serena Williams’ latest exploit. With earnings this year topping US$10 million, the women’s tennis world number one, has more than enough loose change for a cab. And she took one – at her own charity event last Sunday. Instead of finishing the five-km run, she hailed a taxi after two km and, like Tom’s smarmy smile, cruised the rest of the way.

Image IMG_2473 by Flickr user Marianne Bevis, CC BY-ND 2.0.
Image IMG_2473 by Flickr user Marianne Bevis, CC BY-ND 2.0.

Couldn’t Ms Williams at least have made a show of gritting her teeth, worthy of the title of Sports Illustrated magazine’s Sportsperson of the Year? You know, ham it up a little, so people could see her for the champion that she is? Instead, she showed children everywhere, from Clementi to Clemenceau, that life comes with cheat sheets and shortcuts, especially if no prize money is at stake. That there are Armstrong moments you can bend the rules and rule over the bends.

Another piece of news that elicits a chorus of “Humbug!” took place on Tuesday in the UK. A 46-year-old Saudi millionaire was cleared of rape by the Southwark Crown Court when he claimed he tripped and accidentally penetrated the victim.

“I’m fragile,” he claimed. “I fell down but nothing ever happened between me and this girl.” That traces of his semen was found in the 18-year-old girl’s vagina was immaterial. It was not revealed if the man had to reenact his “accident” in court and how his aim was so spot-on.

Of course, we know accidents do happen in the course of sex and quite a few births result from it. But to have such a ridiculous defense get a man off the hook for rape is surely beyond the pale!

Speaking of hook, or more politically incorrectly, hookers: Last Saturday, K-pop group Oh My Girl was detained for some 15 hours in the US. The bald-eagle-eyed custom officers at LAX were certainly not lax and suspected the eight girls, ranging in age from 16 to 21, of being sex workers. They were later sent back to Seoul.

I must confess I’m not a fan of K or LMNOP pop. I’ve never heard of this group and if you ask me (and I welcome your questions), I’d say a name like Oh My Girl is asking for trouble. The moniker might mean something wholesome in Korean (maybe “plastic surgery”?). But surely, it rolls off the tongue like some sex website, especially if you insert a few choice punctuation marks, like Oh, My Girl!! Oh My, Girl!!

All together now: “Humbug!”

Which brings us to that old Shakespearean chestnut, “What’s in a name?” Remember a few years ago when PUB pulled the umbrella over our eyes by describing flash floods in Orchard Road as “ponding”? Well, I’m glad this word was a flash in the pan and no longer surfaces for breath. Flash floods are now officially called flash floods – the term matches our experience of wading in shin-high water on our way to the pub as we wait for our car to get unstuck – much like the AHPETC issue.

Maybe there is hope that officialdom, at whatever rank and whichever salary scale, will get its mouth out of doublespeak. And they can start by renaming the ERP as “ambush tax”. Otherwise, we might have to call out – as surely as Amos Yee can’t stop himself trolling for attention – “Humbug!”

Image Orchard Road late at night by Flickr user Ruben Schade, CC BY-SA 2.0.
Image Orchard Road late at night by Flickr user Ruben Schade, CC BY-SA 2.0.

Still on Orchard Road: This touristy street seems intent on losing its shine. Or more specifically, its lights (blackout at Orchard Central last Saturday) and its roof (Hilton Hotel’s driveway roof collapsing last Sunday), among other incidents. What gives? Who you’re gonna call?

A team of researchers from Portugal, Italy and the Netherlands, that’s who. They recently published a report that, quite literally, talked the walk of Russian President Vladimir Putin. These scientists were anal-retentive enough to study hours and hours of footage of Putin walking (I’m not Putin you on). And came to the life-changing conclusion that he walks like a gunslinger because of his KGB training, his right hand ever ready to draw a gun from his holster. (It was not revealed if they thought Putin’s gait is more like John Wayne’s or Gary Cooper’s.)

Image Vladimir Putin - Caricature by Flickr user DonkeyHotey, CC BY 2.0.
Image Vladimir Putin – Caricature by Flickr user DonkeyHotey, CC BY 2.0.

My mother, in her infinite wisdom, would’ve called this sort of research “wu liao” (pointless or lame). I personally would’ve preferred them to study sexier people, like Monica Bellucci or Rosamund Pike.
But think of what these scientists’ attention to detail could do. They could sit happily all day in a big room, armed with nothing more than teh c siu dai, watching CCTVs trained on every square inch and corner of Orchard Road, and spot when a Christmas décor is about to blow up. Or when a ceiling is about to collapse. They’d be able to nip the problem in the bud before the reputation of Orchard Road takes another hit. Isn’t this more productive than feeding us information that Putin has a gunslinger’s gait?

Finally, here’s a thought to tide you over the festive period: If it comes to pass that Donald Trump is elected US President (touch wood, no!) and he comes face to face with Putin in a High Noon-style showdown, who wins? The one who shoots from the hip, or the one who shoots from the mouth?

Hold that thought as you have yourself a very merry Christmas!

What news this week makes you go “Humbug!” Let us know in the comments below.

 

 

Featured image Hum Bug by Flickr user KevanCC BY 2.0

If you like this article, Like The Middle Ground‘s Facebook Page as well!

For breaking news, you can talk to us via email.