Ministerial Pay Cut
Singapore’s leaders had a disappointing start to the year, with their multi-million-dollar salaries slashed by up to 53 per cent. A drastic cut, but not enough to dislodge them as the world’s best-paid politicians.
The World’s an Art Stage
The second edition of Art Stage proved to be another stellar one, where art lovers got to feast their eyes on masterpieces by the likes of Gerhard Richter, Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin, which weren’t displayed at regular art shows here.
The ripples of discontent over the December Orchard Road flash floods had barely subsided, and with more floods happening in various parts of Singapore, such as Buangkok, Bukit Timah and Jurong, it’s safe to say that wellingtons and stilts remain essential wet weather equipment.
U Wanted This
The launch of Japanese luxury streetwear brand Undercover’s collaboration line UU with high street brand Uniqlo sparked off a fashion frenzy, with queues outside the store at 313@somerset starting from 8am. Thankfully, the collection was actually pretty good.
A Grave Sight
Exhumations began at Bukit Brown Cemetery, the oldest Chinese graveyard in Singapore, in line with plans to build an eight-lane expressway. The move threatens the historical and natural value of the place, as many pioneers such as Ang Seah Im and Chew Boon Lay are buried there, amidst a beautiful rainforest. So much for resting in peace.
Small Bait, Big Fish
When high-flying pimp Tang Boon Thiew was busted, a clientele list of 44 names was revealed. On it were a former school principal, an ex-cop and an environmental activist, all of whom have been charged for having sex with an underage prostitute. Naughty naughty…
Cultural Medallion recipient (and one of our most provocative visual and performance artists) Lee Wen finally got to hold a retrospective show at the Singapore Art Museum—Lee Wen: Lucid Dreams in the Reverie of the Real. One of the best curated shows this year, it spanned political video works and wonderful reproductions of installation pieces.
2011’s edition was a mess, so thankfully the team behind this year’s Men’s Fashion Week managed to get their act together, presenting a myriad of quality indie brands including Diet Butcher Slim Skin and Casely-Hayford, as well as emerging local ones like Reckless Ericka. Although we’re not too sure about all the tacky live music performances held between shows…
Indie music fans rejoiced when Morrissey dropped in for a gig at Fort Canning Park (one of his few in Asia), playing all his solo signatures including “Everyday Is Like Sunday” and The Smiths classics like “Last Night I Dreamt that Somebody Loved Me”. Yes, some of us can finally die in peace.
Up at the Loof
More fun at the Loof when the rooftop bar reopened with a quirky redesign featuring The Mama Shop, which sells old-school knickknacks and unpredictable pub grub like Ramly burger and chili crab dip with fried mantou. Retrolicious.
Scoot on over
Budget carrier Scoot launched its inaugural flight from Singapore to Sydney with more than 400 passengers and airline CEO Campbell Wilson on board the Boeing 777 plane. Despite a rather bumpy start—the flight was delayed by about two hours—good news came after landing: the airline announced they would also fly two new routes to Tokyo and Taipei.
Where the Street Has a Name
Local street and graffiti artist Samantha Lo aka SKLO was arrested for pasting stickers with slogans such as “Press Once Can Already” above traffic light buttons, as well as spray-painting the words “My Grandfather Road” on roads. The local authorities’ message? Stick to the right side of the road.
Founder Pastor Kong Hee (aka Mr Sun Ho) of City Harvest Church, along with four other members, was arrested for allegedly misusing charity funds. The $24 million embezzled had been said to finance Sun Ho’s music career in glitzy Hollywood. So that’s how you put the “fun” into “funds”.
Singapore’s newest icon Gardens by the Bay threw open its doors on June 29. Featuring two domed conservatories and towering 50-meter-high steel Supertrees, the horticultural attraction fitted right in with the downtown landscape, naturally.
Big Brother Is Watching
To combat high-rise littering, the National Environment Agency announced that surveillance cameras will be set up at 100 locations across the city to catch the culprits. As the cameras will face the windows of housing block units, we say: don’t forget to smile for your close-ups!
Diner en Blah
Singapore was the city of choice for Asia’s very first Diner en Blanc, the all-white dining flash mob that has happened around the world. But it was the whole local-food-not-being-allowed fiasco that made the news: blogger Daniel Ang was uninvited because of his blog list of local dishes to bring, and later re-invited by the organizers.
Glam rock hotel W Singapore opened, adding much liveliness to the far-off Sentosa Cove, with a spa and superb restaurants The Kitchen Table and Skirt that make it worthwhile to visit and stay.
Race to the Finish
Never mind the naysayers: This year’s F1 race was one of the most exciting yet, coupled with great live music acts like The Pretenders and The Proclaimers, and a series of exclusive parties. Plus, we’ve signed up for another five years, so deal with it.
When Prince William and Kate Middleton visited Singapore housing state Queenstown as part of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, the prince asked Member of Parliament Indranee Rajah if senior citizens really practiced tai chi at the playground. Her answer? “Yes, but not at 3pm in the afternoon.” Awkward.
The Star Performing Arts Centre opened with a star-studded concert featuring David Foster and Chaka Khan (and upcoming, Norah Jones!), and a slew of F&B establishments like Morganfield’s as well as alternative shopping options at nearby The Star Vista.
More great news for the local arts community when Gillman Barracks opened with 13 new art galleries. International works aside (who can forget those iconic photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe and the Annie Leibovitz show?), local artists like Donna Ong and Choy Ka Fai also got to hold solo shows.
Local film fans missed the chance to catch Ken Kwek’s Sex.Violence.Family Values when it was banned from the local cinemas for depicting racial stereotypes, even if it did take home the Audience Award at New York’s Gotham Screen International Film Festival. Bummer.
NTUC official Amy Cheong was fired for posting racially-insensitive comments (about Malay HDB void deck weddings), after which the union immediately posted a JobStreet ad for her position. Talk about dispensable.
Fab or Flop?
The biggest fashion collaboration of the year was—surprisingly—nowhere near to sold-out on launch day, though there had been a good handful who queued overnight for the H&M and Maison Martin Margiela re-editions collection.
Icelandic post-rock band Sigur Rós’ first gig here was transcendental.Fan favorites like “Hoppípolla” had the crowd in sing-alongs, and the band’s encore of “Popplagið” went perfectly with the pouring rain—a magical concert moment.
The Marine Life Park opened at RWS with over 100,000 marine animals in more than 60 million liters of water. Besides the S.E.A. Aquarium (the largest in the world), the park also has an Adventure Cove Waterpark, giving a new meaning to “swimming with the fishes”.
At least five SMRT bus drivers were charged in court and 29 given a stern warning, for being involved in an illegal strike. So to ensure your strike is legal, remember to give two weeks’ notice.
The Giant Panda Forest opened at the Singapore Zoo, starring ursine couple Kai Kai and Jia Jia, who thrilled the crowds with their playful antics. Seems like the bears are settling in well—let’s hope their 10-year stay here will be most productive.
Two to Tango
ZoukOut gave partygoers not one, but two electrifying nights this year. Hooray for this dance dance revolution!