berthahenson

Posts Tagged ‘foreigners’

Raffles Place People

In News Reports on November 15, 2014 at 1:14 am

ST has a wonderful picture on Page 1, of the people at Raffles Place helping the stabbing victim and holding down the attacker at lunchtime yesterday. Go buy ST. It is a powerful picture. It showcasesnot just the public spiritedness of the people, but also its cosmopolitan mix. Of the English-language MSM, only TNP managed to throw up a name, a 28 year old auditor Mohammad Nazir Abdul Rahman, who helped pin down the assailant. Go buy TNP. Its sub-editors, however, seemed to have forgotten the need for proper picture captions and I can only assume that he is the man in the dark blue polo tee-shirt and beige pants. (I guess Friday is casual day at KPMG). And the police will be pleased to know that he pinned down the attacker because his national service police training kicked in. He must therefore be Singaporean, or least a second generation PR. Nah. Singaporean. I hear you ask, Is this important? Not to me, but to the cynical who think Singaporeans can’t be bothered to do anything but watch or complain.

Good on you, Mr Mohammad Nazir! I hope police will give you an award!

Now who were the rest of the people? TODAY said it tried to approach some of them, including the woman in the beige jacket who seemed to be tending to both victim and assailant in the pictures that have been circulating, but they declined to be interviewed. What I really want to know is the identity of this brave woman who was the first to act. She held on to the assailant right after the attacker stabbed him but couldn’t hold on to him. And what about the women whom Mr Mohammad Nazir referred to as having saved the victim’s life by tending to his injuries and which woman went to get hold of a first-aid kit?

I am sure there will be some who will point out that many others simply watched and took pictures. Curious bystanders and gawkers. Maybe we expected the whole of Raffles Place to be chasing down the man, like some kind of lynch mob. But it is enough methinks for some good souls to take the lead for the rest who were too stunned or did not want to put themselves forward for some reason. And they showed that good sense and quick thinking can come in many stripes and colours…

Of course, now everybody is wondering about the identities of the stabber and the stabbed. TODAY said that the victim was a frequent visitor to The Arcade, with its myriad of moneychangers but the moneychangers declined to speak to reporters. Many will note that the victim spoke in Mandarin. Let’s not jump the gun and conclude that they are Chinese who are not from these shores because we can’t conceive of such a brazen attack from our “own kind’’. I hear you ask, Is that important? Not to me, but to the anti-foreigner lobby who will chalk it up as another point in its favour. The stabber and stabbed can be of any nationality, just like the people who helped.

Words of mass destruction – a Singaporean lexicon

In Society, Writing on May 26, 2014 at 11:38 pm

Last night, I wrote on my Facebook wall that MSM will be full of constructive politics today so I started thinking about destructive politics. I came up with a list of what destructive people say. Some wags thought it instructive enough to add more to the construction. Therefore, here are the words of mass destruction – a term coined by another wag. Please take this constructively.
I am not xenophobic; I just don’t like foreigners
The Filipinos should not hold their independence day here, because it does not coincide with Singapore’s independence day
You can’t call yourself a Singapore unless you, your father and your grandfather were born here.
My son did badly in school because he is not in a good school
My son did badly in school because the exams were too tough
My son behaves badly because his teachers did not discipline him
Teachers cannot discipline my son because he happens to be MY son
If you are pro-family, you must be anti-gay
If you are gay, you can’t be pro-family
The nursing home should not be in my backyard because I can think of so many other places you can put it
Foreign workers should not be seen nor heard
If you praise a Government policy, you must be a PAP lackey
If you criticise a Government policy, you must be an oppie
If you stand in the middle, you must be Workers’ Party
Everything bad that happens to me is because of the Government, even that cut on my big toe
Everything good that happens to me is because of… me
Prices are high because ministers pay themselves high salaries
I pay so much to own and drive a car, so why should I subsidise public transport?
I am not eligible for an HDB flat, so why do I have to pay property tax?
Men should not do National Service, because the women don’t have to
Men of military age and women of child-bearing age should get the same perks in the name of equality
I don’t have great expectations, only rising aspirations
I want work-life balance because I studied so hard in school
I am all for free speech – when I like what I’m hearing
Vandalism is a manifestation of freedom of expression – when I like what I’m seeing
I must be reading the right stuff because I’m reading The Straits Times
I must be saying something right because the Government is suing me
I must be saying something right because the trolls are flaming me

Where’s my Katong?

In News Reports on February 27, 2014 at 1:17 am

This post has nothing to do with the news of the day. It’s personal and, therefore, totally unreasonable. You’ve been warned.

Two days ago, I spent a whole afternoon in my old stomping ground, Katong. I stomped and stomped. In frustration and rage.

You see, I am a Katong Girl. And I felt like I was in Holland Village.

As a young girl with a ponytail, I accompanied my late grandmother to Katong when she made her visits to nonya relatives. They were all on streets with names of fruits…Our visits would always include a visit to Tay Ban Guan, where she bought me my first Enid Blyton book. It would end with a pork satay treat at a coffeeshop on the main East Coast Road, at 10 cents a stick with a side of peanut and pineapple gravy. It was…expensive…

Of course, Tay Ban Guan has long been gone. And who knows what Red House is going to be like after its very extensive renovation? Definitely no bakery – not the dark and dingy one at any rate.

I went to Tanjong Katong Girls’ School, which is no longer along Tanjong Katong Road. My friends and I used to prowl the vicinity after school hours, marvelling at the wonders Katong Shopping Centre offered. It had Island supermarket on an upper floor which produced ice cream from a machine. Pioneer generation of supermarkets!

Island is long no more although Katong Shopping Centre is still there, filled with maid agencies and transfer maids. The only reminder of years past – it still has those stationery shops which let students do photocopying.  

I know Aston’s moved in some years ago. Brotzeit has set up shop as well, turfing out the tau kwa pau seller who has been moved from coffeeshop to coffeeshop in the area over the decades. Now that coffeeshop which was his last stand has gone German.

That day, I walked along East Coast Road from Joo Chiat Road with a slightly enraged heart. There is only the 328 coffeeshop which sells laksa which feels remotely Katong-like. There is an upmarket Prata Place and all manner of upmarket American beer-and-burger joints. There is a Lower East Side, which is semi-Mexican, several Japanese restaurants, ice cream parlours , pancake places, pizza posts, and someone called Irene is selling Australian food. They all have fancy names, The Kitchenette and even a Rabbit, Carrot and Gun?

No need now to say “that coffeeshop along XX Road which has what and what’’.  I mean, I ask you, do you really notice coffeeshop names and use it when you recommend places to others?

Oh! Oh! There is an Alibahbar – a corner coffeeshop done up to look more high class. It seems to want to retain its coffeeshop credentials with local fare, except that it also sells French cuisine. Sniff..

It was in the afternoon about lunchtime. I would like to report that they were almost empty of patrons, except for 328 Laksa. Seems people preferred to eat at the basement coffeeshops in Katong Shopping Centre and Roxy Square – where I believe the “original’’ Katong laksa is. What a far cry from the days when the eateries would be filled with office workers at lunchtime! Patrons start filling up  the F&B places in the evening…and, at the risk of appearing xenophobic, most are non-Asians.    

The “lower class’’ section is further down East Coast Road towards Holy Family Church. I mean no disrespect with the term lower class. It’s a stretch which sells food at lower prices by people who didn’t give their eateries fancy names and which still has some old coffeeshops living and breathing. Chin Mee Chin is still around although Cona’s has long gone. So sugee cake can still be eaten in Katong.

More “locals’’ gather there. There is like some kind of invisible line drawn across East Coast Road. Maybe it’s a function of rents.

 My late father used to work in Joo Chiat Police Station which now houses some kind of Hong Kong eatery. He was known as the tua kow or Big Dog of Joo Chiat.The family could never walk through Katong when he was alive even after he retired without some stallholder or other coming up to shake his hand and press bags of fruit on him.   

He would turn in his urn to see Katong now.

Now even the not-so-old places has gone, like Chevy’s. Police broke up the last ever set of the band last Saturday, cutting off music mid-way. Seems residents nearby were complaining about the noise. You would think that the patrons lamenting the end of Chevy’s were rioting. They were, of course, drunk. But they were not disorderly.   

I know I sound like an old woman, standing in the way of progress and change. I sound like a xenophobe; not at all cosmopolitan. The change over Katong has been happening over time but it seems to have escalated over the last two years or so.

Some semblance of “home’’ must remain in pockets of Singapore – or you will find us retreating into the HDB heartland and setting up barricades against “outsiders’’.   Already, I prefer spending more time in my more immediate neighbourhood, than venturing further afield, although gelato joints have started sprouting up….Sigh.

Heck! I AM an old woman…