Page3 Hall of Fame

On how we named I-S Magazine
But what do the letters I-S stand for? Awash in the alphabet-soup acronymland known as Singapore, where PMEBs leave their HDB, UDMC or HUDC flats and take the PIE, CTE, ECP, SLE, BKE or AYE to the CBD every DAY, we admit there are moments when even we get confused about what our magazine’s initials mean. … We settled on In Singapore. (Vol. 1 No. 1 August 7-20 1995)
On students studying in public places
Singapore is actually chock-a-block with opportunities for learning.… ANTHROPOLOGY: Rush hour on the MRT. Observe human behavior as it devolves to its basest forms. See “survival of the fittest” principles put into action each time an empty seat opens up. Keep an eye out for the missing link that boards daily at Novena Station. Special essay topic: Would Homo erectus have been able to navigate a transfer at Raffles Place? (Vol. 1 No. 8 November 20-December 3 1995)
On chasing the 5Cs
CREDIT CARD: Don’t give us that song and dance about the convenience. How convenient can it be to pay 20 percent interest on all those flash clothes and that mega-stereo system? Think about that the next time you whip out that plastic for the plane tickets to Bali, dinner at Prego for your friends, a new wardrobe at the Great Singapore Sale. (Vol. 1 No. 21 June 10-23 1996)
On PM Goh urging Singaporeans to lighten up
When PM Goh proposed a return of snake charmers, he opened up a real can of worms, so to speak. You can’t have snake charmers without grit and grime, and you can’t have grit and grime without seedy-looking characters roaming around possibly trying to pick your pocket. But let’s not dirty all of Singapore for the sake of a little exotica. Confine the grit, grime and low crime to a single, contained area—Boat Quay, for instance—and rename it Little JB. (Vol. 2 No. 11 Jan 6-19 1997)
On Dolly the cloned sheep
By all accounts, this cloning business is still open to improvement, and the margin for error at this early stage is clearly pretty high. So don’t try this at home, kids. It falls into the wrong hands, and who knows what could happen? We could live to see the day when we walk into our favorite restaurant to be greeted warmly and shown to our table — by a sheep. (Vol. 2 No. 15 Mar 10-23 1997)
On The Straits Times undergoing a revamp
Once we caught our breath, we realized maybe our expectations were running a little too high. We thought that March 23, 1998, the debut of the—GASP!—new The Straits Times, would go down in history as a date to remember. A day when we got a collector’s item to rival Princess Di margarine tubs, when we got more fashion tips from Cat Ong about what can be done with a ½ meter of masking tape and a pair of breasts, when we got enough world-class information and entertainment to beat a Disney-Microsoft merger. But as we were reading the new Straits Times, we realized that we were reading—GASP!—the old Straits Times. (Vol. 3 No. 17 Apr 3-16 1998)
On Disney launching Legend of Mulan
Disney is embracing Asia with all its might. Next up: Animal Kingdom Asia. Included are whitewater rafting, some really scary Asian animals and a jungle trek. … If Disney goes with the Asian theme park, we say at least get with the times, play up the urban jungle and launch New Asia World. The buzz of cicadas is replaced by the shrill of mobile phones. … Garfield, Mao and now Snoopy leer down from our restaurant walls. The crowning glory to New Asia World? Imagine this: Habibe’s Hamburgers, Deng’s Diner and Pol Pot’s Claypot. (Vol. 3 No. 20 May 15-June 4 1998)
On Singapore becoming a model for the rest of Asia
Top Ways to Tell that [insert the Southeast Asian city of your choice] is Turning into Singapore… The Christmas lights go up before Deepavali. • Snoopy toys (dressed as the Merlion) are given away with Happy Meals. • If it works properly, it’s “World Class.” • People run screaming into an Ah Mei concert and then sit down in an orderly fashion to wait for the show to begin. • Low fines don’t mean no fines. (Vol. 5 No. 6 Oct 15-Nov 4 1999)
On Hello Kitty fever
Need we go further than the headline: “Seven hurt in rush for Hello Kitty toys”? The facts are depressing: A crowd clamoring for stuffed dolls waits in the early morning outside a fast food restaurant, which boasts a regular door. Made of glass. The crowd is so eager to part with hard-earned cash for trashy food and cheap toys that individual Kitty fans push and shove as hard as they can against the aforementioned glass. Hello Kitty. Goodbye door. (Vol. 5 No. 12 Jan 21-Feb 3 2000)
On the granting of a newspaper license to MediaCorp and a TV license to SPH
We’re all for diversity in the media, but we’re not sure we follow the logic of newspaper people thinking they know TV, and TV people thinking they know newspapers. It seems a little like the folks at Jurong Bird Park applying for a license to open an airport, just because they know something about flying. (Vol. 5 No. 22 Jun 16-Jul 6 2000)
On PM Goh calling Singapore “a nation of moaners and groaners”
It struck us that our talent for moaning and groaning—instead of being cause for concern—could be just the thing to put us on the map academically. … Here’s a prospective Course Catalog for the degree program: Dissatisfaction 101 … Advanced Groaning … Comparative Grumpiness … Tai-tai Tantrums … Philosophy of Moaning … Holiday Humbug. (Vol. 6 No. 10 Dec 15 2000 – Jan 4 2001)
On the Public Entertaining & Licensing Unit relaxing rules for buskers
The Scotts Road underpass, which seems to be the epicenter of buskerdom in Singapore, is already the Seventh Level of Hell. Imagine if you had to listen to a steady stream of Air Supply hits as you struggled with your shopping bags through the dark, crowded tunnel. (Vol. 6 No. 18 Apr 6-19 2001)
On a UK finding that work is bad for health
In case you haven’t been appointed to one of the five sub-groups, the Remaking Singapore Committee is being set up to look at all aspects of life here and redefine the Singapore Dream. The idea seems to be that we should no longer only be working for the five Cs. Now we should be concerned with quality-of-life issues like personal space, family bonding, finding individual fulfillment through (ohmigod) risk-taking, and creativity in our work. (Vol. 7 No. 14 Mar 1-14 2002)
On stayers and quitters
Still there may be a way to satisfy both stayers and quitters. Since we’ve already reclaimed what looks like a quarter of the island, what’s stopping us from reclaiming whatever we can, or until we hit Indonesia? … We could build enclaves: miniature Sydneys, Londons, New Yorks, Batu Pahats, whatever. Stayers can stay put on Singapore Major; quitters don’t even have to surrender their CPF to hit Reclaimed Singapore for a taste of life on the other side. (Vol. 7 No. 24 Sep 6-19 2002)
On Singapore turning 38
Even as we speak, the new Singapore has chalked up many successes. We have recently set many world records: for the longest stick of satay, the longest popiah, the largest mountain of bak changs, the longest chain of used brassieres.… These are not achievements to be sneezed at. Rather, they demonstrate the determination of Singaporeans to achieve something monumental and significant in the history of mankind. They make a difference. (Vol. 8 No. 24 Aug 1-14 2003)
On card-carrying virgins marching down Orchard Road
Fine, fine, fine. We certainly support everyone’s right to have their own beliefs and make their own choices regarding personal behavior. But it’s ironic that the virginity bandwagon is taking hold in Singapore, where a public movement saying there should be less sex is sort of like a public movement in Bollywood saying there should be more song-and-dance numbers packed into every Shah Rukh Khan movie. We already rank near the bottom of the Durex Global Sex Survey (on average, bonking a lowly 96 times a year)—and for years have been told we need to reverse declining birth rates and do something about all those older single women who seem to be perfectly happy with their lifelong, committed, monogamous careers. (Issue 201 Dec 20-Jan 2 2003)
On the Feedback Unit saying we need bold experimentation
Exhibit C: Another scientist added Viagra to a vase of wilting flowers — they stood upright for seven days longer than they should have. Singapore version: Maybe they should try this experiment to keep people awake at the next feedback dialogue.
(Issue 231 Nov 19-Nov 25 2004)
On the New Year and a new human species
It’s the New Year, and we would like to take this opportunity to wish all our readers a very happy and joyous one. Of course, you realize that we are just being polite in doing this. In reality, we see very little hope of the New Year being either very happy or very joyous. This is due in large part to the emergence in Singapore of a new species of humans that makes cooperation and consideration impossible (even in principle). This new species of human is the Solipsist. What is a Solipsist? She (to be understood as including he) is someone who believes she is the only person that exists. In colloquial terms, she believes in “me only.” This must be clearly distinguished from the “ugly Singaporean,” who believes merely in “me first.” (Issue 238 Jan 14-20 2005)
On a Gallup study of the Singapore worker
Singaporeans’ notoriety for being bo chap (“disengaged” in Hokkien) from their work apparently has some form of psychological basis. … Says Dr. Bruce Avolio, the main author of the study, “If people don’t feel like they are using their best skills; if their strengths are not developed and their views not heard, they will switch off and channel their energies elsewhere. … We did our own informal (unscientific) poll and found that another reason for Singapore workers’ seeming bo chap-ness is that they are loathe to raise criticisms about (flawed) systems (and behavior) in the workplace for fear of being blackmarked by their Singaporean bosses. Hence, their open-armed acceptance of mediocrity. (Issue 241 Feb 4-17 2005)
On the proposal to build a casino
Fast forward to day six. Guv thinks, “We need to take a (somewhat) calculated risk so Paradise stays ahead of the game. I will create a casino and it will have bright lights, rolling dice and, oh, also do great things for our bottom line.” Man and Woman are silent. They think, “We are mere mortals. We don’t think we have what it takes to withstand this evil temptation. We don’t even have any clothes for crying out loud!” In his omniscience, Guv reads their thoughts and declares in a booming voice, “Trust in me to safeguard the long term interests of yourselves and Paradise!! I know what is best for you, my children!!!” On the seventh day, Guv creates a gambling rehab center. (Issue 246 Mar 18-24 2005)
On the Manpower Ministry’s task force on older workers
Old people are clumsy. Old people are more prone to falling ill. Old people are more expensive to hire. Old people cannot keep up with technology. Old people are stubborn. … Young people are inexperienced. … Young people are impatient. … Young people are easily distracted. … Young people are rude. … Since both Singapore’s old and young people are not fit for employment, we recommend that the entire economy of Singapore be outsourced. (Issue 249 Apr 8-14 2005)
On the opposition meeting to plan election strategies
Naturally, no one from the gathering is willing to spill the beans on what they came up with. However, our infallible psychic futurologists managed to have a few Christmas visions of what is to come. … It’ll be a blue Christmas for some careless speakers. … Some people will be dreaming of a white outcome. Many will sing: Let me vote! Let me vote! Let me vote! … Oh what fun it is, to win a one horse open race. (Issue 286 Dec 23-Jan 5 2006)