Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wednesday, April 27, 2011 (Singapore)

BATTLE LINES ARE SET ON NOMINATION DAY: It looks like the May 7 General Election will be the most keenly contested election since independence in the 1960s. Until 2006, the ruling party (People's Action Party) knew it was returning to run the government as soon as Nomination Day. Now there's only one "walkover" (uncontested race). The rest are contested.
Someday, there will likely be a significant change. I came across a piece written in January called "Singapore Will Not Collapse if the Opposition Wins the Next General Election".
This runs counter to things said recently by Minister Mentor Lee Kwan Yew (above, from a television screen), the man who ushered Singapore right from the beginning (independence in 1965) and ushered it into a top-rung position in the world. He told Singaporeans on Monday, in a pre-election message:
"Do not rock this foundation. Remember where Singapore came from, and how difficult it was that we have got to where we are. There is always a risk when one generation passes on the baton, the next team may unthinkingly toss out what they have inherited."
Of course if he wants to really see a rocked foundation, he should look at Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Syria etc.
The MM is running again. He's 87. He is part of a slate in the Tanjong Pagar constituency. Residents of that neighborhood have not faced a contested ballot for the past FIVE ELECTIONS, since 1991. On Wednesday, a potential slate of opponents in the district missed the filing deadline by 35 seconds. The MM told voters today, "I can assure you I'll look after you for the next five years." Very paternalistic sounding.

IF YOU WANT A MAN-IN-THE-STREET COMMENT, HAIL A TAXI: Minister Mentor Lee's statement, above, echoes what a taxi driver told me earlier in the week. Two sentences stuck out:
"Government is like the mother and father."
"Government treats you like a small child."
He said this has gone on for too long. He implied that Singaporeans have gotten too soft. Others in Asia are more hardened because of the troubles they face. He said, "Singaporeans have not suffered like others in Asia." Does that mean the taxi driver wants political conflicts, natural disasters and economic challenges? Maybe to some degree, but please leave out the natural disasters.

ROVERS WIN, ROVERS WIN! I headed to Jalan Besar Stadium last night to see the Tampines Rovers (representing Singapore) defeat the Hanoi T&T Football Club, 3-1. I enjoyed it; the ticket-buying could have been crisper. The man did not have change for a $10 bill for the $6 ticket.
I'm not too good with action pictures, but the one above shows the jostling for position during a corner kick. The Rovers are in yellow; the ball sits between the arrow points; many players are showing great discipline by not simply following the arc of the ball.
Ahmad Latiff Khamaruddin (right), considered somewhat of a "bad boy" in Singaporean soccer circles, scored two goals. His second was was the prettiest and turned out to be the game winner. He was about 20-25 yards, er "18-22 meters", er "metres", from the goal. I was at the other end of the field, er "pitch". But I had a straight-line view, watching his laser-like shot for a goal, er "Gooooooooaaaaalllllll". No dip. No wobble. No bend. One writer said the shot should be a contender for "goal of the season." He wrote:
"Pouncing on a loose ball from outside the box, Latiff let fly on the half volley into the far top corner leaving [goalie Duong] Hong Son grasping at thin air."
The Straits Times description put it this way:
"But there was nothing the visitors' defence could do about Latif's second goal 11 minutes later, an exquisite half-volley from 25 metres out that left Son a mere spectator as it flew into the top corner."
The win puts the Singapore team in a good position to qualify for the octofinals (in NCAA basketball parlance, that's the "sweet sixteen") for the AFC Cup. For results and schedules, go here).
Here's the overall bracket. The final is in late October.

I GOT THE MESSAGE: "GET BACK TO THE TRENCHES, YOU SLACKER!": I headed over to Jalan Besar Stadium INSTEAD of continuing my reseaerch into the blinded soldiers of World War One. I sensed that there was some mystical disapproval of this when I noticed the Kitchener Complex (a building--not an affliction or inclination--named after the man who was the model for the famous British recruiting poster at right). My destination, Jalan Besar Stadium, is, in fact, bounded on four sides by roadways that whisper "World War One": Tyrwhitt Road, Horne Road, King George's Avenue; and Kitchener Avenue. I looked closer at the map, and here are the nearby roads, with links to what I presume are the relevant WWI-era honorees:
Hamilton Road: Sir Ian Hamilton.
Tyrwhitt Road: Sir Reginald Tyrwhitt;
Cavan Road: Frederick Rudolf Lambart, 10th Earl of Cavan;
Kitchener Avenue: Horatio Herbert Kitchener;
Horne Road: Sir Henry Sinclair Horne;
Jellicoe Road: Admiral John Rushworth Jellicoe;
French Road: John Denton Pinkstone French.
Those are the closest ones. To add to the impact, Foch Road, Beatty Road and Petain Road are just a block or two away. Not surprisingly, all are within a quick gallop of Victoria Street, honoring the queen who laid lots of the groundwork--at least genetically--for World War One.
I gave up. I left the stadium with about 20 minutes of playing time left. I did so to the sounds of bagpipes and drums wafting through the air. At first I thought someone was playing music in the stadium. I asked an usher. He said nobody was playing music in the stadium. He listened closely, noted the instruments, then, with a big smile said, "Scots!"
As I left the stadium, I noticed the bagpipe sounds were coming from the neighboring grounds of a contiguous community center. Students were practicing. It was about 9 p.m. Sounded like they were playing "Scotland the Brave" and were ready to make a frontal assault on "Amazing Grace." Kitchener and the others would have been pleased.

CRANES CONTINUE TO POINT IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION: Things continue to look rosy at the Tanjong Pagar Container Terminal here in Singapore. The Singapore Crane Index Limited Economic Indicator, in all of its limitedness, points to continued business at the terminal. Here's the latest look-out-the-window tally:

Date: April 28
Time: 9 a.m. (Singapore time)
Cranes Up (inactive): 5
Cranes Down (active): 22
CRANES MISSING (puzzling): 1

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