Sunday, August 17, 2008


I bet the sports subs have been playing with silver in a headline all day. So where were you when Singapore won its first Olympic medal in 48 years? This would be Singapore's equivalent of the JFK question. It's a big deal, considering that the last medal was won before the post-independent Singaporeans of my generation were even born.

And that's why the Prime Minister's Office postponed the live telecast of his English speech at the annual National Day Rally. They knew he wasn't going to be able to compete for TV eyeballs. The Malay and Chinese speeches were delivered and telecast but the English speech is embargoed till Monday evening and the papers cannot carry it till Tuesday. That's gonna throw out my colleagues who are working tonight because two pages have been set aside for reporting on the rally.

While the women's table tennis team was fighting for Olympic gold, the whole nation was glued to their TVs. We'd been to see my parents but timed to leave for home so that we'd get back in time for the table tennis final. The taxi driver said he was heading home too. On the way, crowds were already forming at the kopi tiams, with the TV in full blast. And it wasn't the Prime Minister these people were waiting to watch. Not when the general conversation was: "KNN! Still talking cock! Get him off!" -- duly reported by L, who stopped by for a takeout dinner and dashed home with it before the match started. Halfway into the match, Roop needed to pee so I took him down. I could hear all our neighbours' televisions blasting the same table tennis commentary from the same TV station.

And as Singapore came to a standstill, where were its elite -- the leaders, the politicians, the big-time business honchos and even our newspaper editors (heh). All stuck at the National Day Rally, forced to listen to speeches when they probably wanted to watch a table tennis match instead.

Just last week, a ruling party politician who lost the ward he was contesting to an opposition MP, went on a walkabout and said that party grassroot in the constituency are still strong. If our grassroot leaders were really so on the ball, there would have been block parties organised for the table tennis final. Instead of having every household watch its own TV in its own flat, we could have gathered round for a massive cheer session. It would have been a nice touch to National Day and would definitely produce more Singaporean camaraderie than the National Day Rally. I mean, these guys keep going on about the Singapore Spirit and all that. This would have been a good chance to harness it. But alas, all our leaders were all stuck listening to speeches.

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