Technology: Najip Ali’s Biggest Pet Peeve

The best thing about growing up during my era is experiencing living in both the kampong and the newly-developed urban residences. They’ve made me what I am.
My parents were the only children in the family so they basically lived on their own. We didn’t really have any relatives. They were always very encouraging. The best advice I’ve received from them is to choose the right friends and read the right books.
I wasn’t a good student. I don’t remember ever enjoying my studies. What I do remember is that I really loved reading dance magazines. All I wanted to do then was to join the army and its Music & Drama Company (MDC).
I left Singapore to study dance theater in London. I was 20 when I left. I had received a scholarship from the British Council and stayed there for three and a half years. It was such a great feeling then. I still go back there every year.
When I was in London, I realized how small Singapore truly was. This whole idea of globalization had not yet descended upon us, so it was in London that I truly saw the whole world. It was so cosmopolitan, with people from all over. For a kampong boy, being exposed to such a big city truly shocked me.
My whole life is about people. People are my inspiration. The makcik at the nasi padang stall is my inspiration. The auntie who sits beside me in the MRT is my inspiration. Because I’m a known person, people stop me all the time so that they can start a conversation with me.
A sabbatical, as much as it can be rewarding, is not relevant to me because I work in TV. The best thing to do is to listen to the viewers who have made you the person you are. Being with people and listening to them make me relevant. I don’t need to go on a sabbatical.
You need to be a Jack of all trades and a master of one to be in this business. I’m a master at writing and hosting but I also want to be able to do more things, so I produce. People in the entertainment industry who’ve lasted many years are all still here because they do one thing really well, but they can also do many other things.
Singapore as a consumerist nation doesn’t really push the entertainment envelope very far. People here still perceive entertainment as a mere distraction from which you cannot earn money. It still hasn’t been portrayed that entertainment can be inspirational and help build character. That needs to be brought forward to the people.
My biggest pet peeve is technology—it annoys me. It really drives me crazy having to learn how to use all these new phone and computer applications.
People need to learn how to give time to their happiness. You must give time for your own personal evolution; for yourself to change. Everyone seems to be in such a rush to make it, when they should be slowing down so they can allow growth.