Bright Ideas

Never let it be said that we don’t know how to give people great ideas in this city. First up, the ever-so-helpful folks at the Ministry of Home Affairs (hereafter to be known as the Ministry that Cried Wolf) left smoking vehicles at certain busy spots around town to see how people would react.Codenamed Operation Times Square (rumors they were bussing in bumbling vagrants and aggressive hotdog vendors to lend further authenticity were sadly unfounded), the exercise proved precisely two things: That illustrating what terrorists can get away with is probably not such a good idea; and that when Singaporeans see a potential threat, right down to the wires sticking out of it, the first thing they do is have their photo taken alongside it. But when our local press consistently runs pictures of Ferraris going up in flames as entertainment, can you really blame the public for not acting like their lives were in danger?Perhaps, though, the authorities just didn’t go far enough. Why not have the cars actually explode (if nothing else, a government coming out and admitting to blowing up its own property would shut the conspiracy theorists up)? So long as people had sufficient warning it’d be quite safe—do it right, find a corporate sponsor and it could even compete with the New Year countdown in the bang for your buck stakes.Then there was the case of the South Korean gentleman who was stopped at Changi while trying to take $7million in casino winnings out of the country. In cash. Called for comment, casino employees insisted it’s not uncommon to see people leaving the premises with $2-3million worth of cash stuffed into their pockets. Now what kind of dissuasion tactic is that? Hell, we know the employees are in the casino’s (extremely deep) pocket and will do what they can to encourage good foot traffic, but are we sure the not-all-that-unfortunate chap at the airport wasn’t a plant? Sure, he was fined $30,000 for his troubles, but that’s peanuts to such a high roller. All a story like that does is give people who wouldn’t previously have thought about going gambling the idea that they really could win big—in the pantheon of airport horror stories it’s hardly a biggie.Quite what would be is a puzzle—seems like even if terrorists took over Changi (and we blame Die Hard II for giving them that particular idea), your friendly neighborhood Singaporean would be too busy smiling for the camera to take much notice.