Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Just who (and what) is a first-generation Singaporean?

ST, March 30
Where was the starting point, that is, how are "pre-first generation whatever (can't call them Singaporeans, right?) determined? Was my late father (born 1914, died 1983) a "pre-whatever" or a "first-generational"? I suppose one marker is some sort of citizenship paper, even if that person died a subject of British colonial Singapore, say, someone like the late war hero Lim Bo Seng.

Now for the absurd part!

We are told (remember, Just Follow, Lor?) that the Pioneer Generation are first-generation Singaporeans. Again, we are not told just who are in that first batch of Pioneer Generation "pioneers". But we are told that the cut-off is Dec 31, 1949. So someone born on Jan 1, 1950 is not a Pioneer Generation alumnus.

But guess what? In my 1960s school class cohort, the oldest guys were born in late 1948 or early 1949 and the youngest were born in late 1950. Amazing, how -- by official fiat -- one is deemed to be neatly and precisely in or not in a "generation". Reminds me of the Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs' song, "(I'm in with) The out crowd".

But, hey, that's pragmatism for you... a favourite word so often bandied about in Singapore:

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Father figures

The recurring phrase heard these past few days is "founding father" (singular, see example below):

Interestingly, the United States also bandies this term. George Washington is sometimes referred to as the "father" of post-colonial America. But most references are in the plural context. Some people get their history mixed up and confer the moniker "founding fathers" on the Famous Four, ie, those chiselled hunks alongside Mount Rushmore...

Hello, these guys span 130 years of US history...that's a bit of a stretch to call them all "Founding Fathers"!  
Most Americans agree that their founding fathers are:

  • John Adams: He was a member of First Continental Congress and was active in drafting the Declaration of Independence.
  • Thomas Jefferson: Played major role in the Revolutionary War, later went on to become the third American President.
  • George Washington: Became the first President of United States after playing a critical role in the American Revolution as the commander of the Continental Army.
  • Benjamin Franklin: He was a writer, diplomat and an accomplished inventor prior to his involvement in the American Revolution. He later served as US Ambassador to France followed by serving as the Governor of Pennsylvania.

Then there is the variation "Father of xx country". Hence, Tunku Abdul Rahman was called "Bapa Malaysia". 

This one appeared in today's ST (March 26):

Which brings us back to Singapore. So, is Lee Kuan Yew Singapore's founding father? I found that there is this series of books published by (yes!) ST Press...

Each book in FOUNDING FATHERS has:
  • the story of one Singapore founder and his contribution in the endeavour
  • growing-up days
  • surprising things we never knew about the man
  • what others say about him
  • snapshots linking the past to present-day context
  • rarely seen pictures from family archives
  1. David Marshall - The Legal Eagle
  2. Devan Nair - The Rebel With A Cause
  3. Eddie Barker - The Gentleman Politician
  4. Goh Keng Swee - The Master Sculptor
  5. Lee Kuan Yew - The Man Of Firsts
  6. Lim Kim San - The Big Builder
  7. Ong Pang Boon - The Bespectacled Crime Buster
  8. Othman Wok - The Dashing Peacemaker
  9. S. Rajaratnam - The Voice Of A Nation
  10. Toh Chin Chye - The Quiet Revolutionary


Finally, methinks this ST Life! story below got carried away with the idea of "father figure"!...

Monday, March 23, 2015

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Still lost in translation: What IS a surface-to-air missile?

This actually happened and I posted it on Facebook:

Shoulder fatigue, not army fatigues

Doctor: Have you done mobilisation exercises?
Me (puzzled): Long, long time ago, leh. 
Doctor (after a pause): Uncle, I mean to help you with your frozen shoulder problem.
Me: Oh.

CC sent me this:

Hit or miss: Truth in advertising

The 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon resulted in many dogfights between Syrian and Israeli jet fighters.

In the end, the Syrians lost over 80 warplanes and had a number of surface-to-air (SAM) missile batteries knocked out, while the Israelis lost no planes.

Some time later, the Syrian Defence Minister was shopping for weapons in Moscow.

His host, the Soviet Defence Minister, was embarrassed about the scorecard from Lebanon.

He told his Syrian guest, "Take anything you want -- our best tanks, rifles, surface-to-air missiles..."

"No, no, you don't understand!" the exasperated Syrian replied. "Last time you gave us surface-to-air missiles. This time we need surface-to-jet missiles!"


Found online:

Anyone has a dog to spare? I need to get on the escalator


From ST:

Hello, get reel, not real!

So, they are just an acting couple, not a real couple?

Wah, this 89-year-old actually skydived at a community club!
(now that's a record)

Thursday, March 19, 2015

If it pours, call in the Aquamen? Now you're ribbing me!

It never rains; it pours!

I had anticipated that the promotional ad (below) for the upcoming musical Singin' In The Rain was going to attract flak:

Sure enough, on Tuesday (March 17), one ST reader was upset over the offending tag line:

I waited for the authorities to respond. The PUB did so fairly promptly -- today (March 19):

What was not made explicit in the PUB's missive was: did the now-alerted water agency read the riot act to the production organisers? And did the organisers then had to scramble to put in place a "water recirculation system to recycle the water used..."?

Marina Bay Sands' reply below, also today, is similarly unclear as to whether the recycling system was in place right from the start. It brings us back to the promo's bragging tag line, "12,000 litres of water at every performance!". A pre-emptive disclaimer somewhere in the ad about the recycling bit would have earned them kudos, not flak...

I am surprised no MP raised this issue or at least sought clarification; it was left to an ordinary citizen to do so. Water is very precious to Singapore; we mark World Water Day this Saturday:


Please, not Aquamen!
(Hokkiens will double up in mirth)


You're ribbing me!

Yeah, man. Count them... make sure you still have all your ribs on you!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Claws in translation: catty idioms.

Just as I had, in my previous blog entry, found the expression "to stub one's toe" an unfamiliar one (idiom-wise), this catty idiom below also got my tongue...

To set the cat among the pigeons? No problem. But does this variation have the same meaning, that is, to cause alarm, discomfort, or consternation? I reread the story:


Having done so, I had to presume it has the same meaning as the cat-pigeon one. The cat (the watchdog, haha!) has created unease among the chickens (the slaughterhouse operators) by embarking on an investigation into possible price-fixing among them.

But guess what? Cats, according to this story below, get along with chickens!...

Why it’s okay to put a cat in the henhouse


And, putting a twist on the cat-pigeon idiom but sticking with the cat-chicken idiom, this People's Daily story has this admonition:

'Don't put cat with the chickens'


It's fascinating what one can uncover online.

I'll wrap up with this:

The Cat's Pajamas? 7 Purrfect Idioms