Thursday, April 21, 2011

Thursday, April 21, 2011 (Singapore)

BE CAREFUL OUT THERE: I'm not sure when the display went up, but I noticed it for the first time today. The area above Raffles station has a couple of installations geared to remind people to TAKE NO RISKS at work. (This has nothing to do with the concept of kiasu, or fear of losing, which has surfaced in this blog.) One of the installations shows a woman and desk chair half buried in the turf. This is to remind people not to use an OFFICE CHAIR as a LADDER.
As a long-time chair/ladder climber, I have a different takeaway on the display: Don't use a chair WITH WHEELS as a ladder if you are WEARING HIGH HEELS. (That's kind of a poem; makes it easier to remember.)
By the way, I hope the guy reading the newspaper in the background of the top photo (shown in a blurry closeup at left) doesn't trip over any of the letters in R-I-S-K-S.

MEN (AND SOME WOMEN) IN WHITE: Now that election season has begun, the ruling People's Action Party members have broken out their white suits. The uniform of white shirt and white pants has been a hallmark of the party for decades, to represent the party's integrity and the absence of corruption in the party's ranks. (For a more detailed explanation, scroll to the "Why Are They White?" explanation here.) Wednesday's Straits Times printed the photo at right, showing a victory wave from key members of the ruling People's Action Party following a "walkover" in the 2006 elections.
The clothing style is discussed in the 2009 book, Men In White (right). According to an Aug. 29, 2009 article in the Straits Times by Zakir Hussain, here's the origin:
Mr Yap recounts how at the PAP's inauguration at Victoria Memorial Hall on Nov 21, 1954, many members of the audience were taken aback by the sight of the party's founding members and convenors striding onstage in white open-necked shirts and cotton trousers.
They had expected to see them in ties and suits. 'That struck an instant rapport with the people, as one interviewee told me,' he says, adding that the party whites have since been a defining element of the PAP till today.
It appears that each party has a certain uniform, kind of a mix between a bowling shirt and a polo shirt. They are proud of their affiliations and promote their teamwork. I'm not sure if this would fly in the United States--especially the all-white look. First of all, nobody in the U.S. would believe that government officials actually had integrity and operated above corruption. In addition, we might be unable to shake the image of Steve Martin in The Jerk (right). However, it has worked here in Singapore. And U.S. voters should be among the last people to snicker at efforts to demonstrate clean government.
But I do have one question: If white is so important for the party that's been in charge for so long, why does it seem so hard or expensive to get dry cleaning done quickly in this city?

IT'S A HOLIDAY (GOOD FRIDAY), AND THAT MIGHT EXPLAIN THE CRANE DRAIN: For the third time in the HISTORY of the Singapore Crane Index Limited Economic Indicator, the cranes in the UP position (inactive) outnumber those in the DOWN position (active). Maybe the workers deserve a welcome break at the Tanjong Pagar Container Terminal. Hardly anybody in the city is working today (April 22). But the construction work is moving right along in our neighborhood, Good Friday or no Good Friday. The most recent report:
Date: April 22
Time: 9 a.m. (Singapore time)
Cranes Up (bad): 18
Cranes Down (good): 7
CRANES MISSING (neutral): 2

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