A Special Report By The Surreal Singapore – Everyone’s Laughing At It
17th September 2014 will go down in history as the day Singapore ran out of candles. Shops all over the island are reporting severe shortage of the item. A check at several NTUC outlets showed empty shelves where candles used to be displayed. Even Body Shop reported brisk sale of their famous scented candles. The store manager said that a young man with tattoos and blonde hair who spoke in heavy Singlish bought all the scented candles the day before. He said that usually the candles are bought by the arty-farty type. “He definitely doesn’t look like the sort of people who like to play with candles”, Vince retorted.
Tempers flared at an NTUC outlet in Geylang. Gilbert Goei, unemployed, was seen arguing with the cashier. When asked, Gilbert blamed the foreigners. “All these foreigners coming to Singapore are not only taking our jobs away, they are now buying all the candles,” Gilbert screamed. “I can make a list of ten reasons why Singapore is running out of candles. One of which is that the PAP government is becoming like the NAZI. They make Singaporeans so happy that they play with candles during their free time. And I also think they want to use the candles to celebrate Singapore’s 50th National Day. Singaporeans should go on strike!” He then walked away, muttering to himself whilst carrying a pack of Tsingtao beer.
A young man who identified himself as Arifin Shah Rukh Buah Khanna, unemployed, urged Singaporeans to `wake up’. “Singaporeans must stop playing with candles,” Arifin said. “You really do not know what’s in the candles. There could be chemicals that give Singaporeans a false sense of contentment and euphoria. Do you know that the government only tested 2% of all candles imported into Singapore?” he asked as he sipped on a can of extra-strong Nescafe. “Let this sink in!”
Ken Jay, a local middle-aged man who spoke in a thick British accent blamed the PAP government for what he termed as `candlegate’. “One would not be too presumptuous to conclude that the PAP is diabolical in their treatment of candle users. They should recognise the fact that Singaporeans love their candles and should have provided subsidised candles or return their CPF so that they can use the money to procure more candles. Instead they despoiled so much money on utterly superfluous things like the Pioneer Generation package, Medisave top-ups and whatevernots,” he said. “We should comprehensively vote the PAP out in the next GE. I am unreservedly convinced that if the opposition formed the next government, Singapore will be a truly and utterly free country. We will have free water, free electricity, free education, free medical, free transport, free cars, free houses, free weddings and of course free rose-tinted candles. I am a true-blue Singaporean, a heartlander at heart, and I articulate for Singaporeans and I do believe that Singaporeans understand where I am coming from”. (Note: This reporter spent three hours trying to transcribe what Ken Jay was saying.)
Meanwhile, we received a tip-off from someone of a possible real reason for the shortage of candles; a candlelight vigil to be held at Hong Lim Park to honour an extremely popular local hero; a martyr in the making that is expected to attract millions of well-wishers, more than half of Singapore’s population because he heard the organisers claiming that most Singaporeans support their cause.
When we reached there at 6pm, there were about ten people. Seven of them were doing tai-chi exercise. We met Goh Main Singh, one of the three non-taichi exponents, who was carrying an unlighted candle in his hand. A self-proclaimed job hopper who could not hold on to one job for very long because as he said: “my employers could not see me eye-to-eye on important issues. I am by nature very argumentative. I am an `ideas’ man”. He said that he joined the candlelight vigil because it was a very good idea. “Every country needs an anti-hero just like every hero needs a villain. Batman is a nobody without The Joker. So I am here to pay my respect to Singapore’s very own Joker.”
Another man who was earlier seen lurking under the nearby tree, approached us and asked: `are you from ISD?” When we replied we were not, he introduced himself as Vince Wijewhatshisnameghe, a self-styled political commentator. He said that he was disappointed at the lack of attendance and support for this very momentous event. He blamed what he termed as the government dogs; the ISD officers. He claimed that the ISD officers have bought all the candles in Singapore so that people would not be able to buy any and participate in the event. “That’s why there is a shortage of candles!” he exclaimed. He then left after saying: `Sorry I got to go. I think someone is watching me,” as he nervously glanced at a schoolboy who was sitting on a nearby bench eating an ice-cream.
Half an hour later, the crowd swelled to an unprecedented twenty people. Seven of them were still doing tai-chi. And soon, the target of their vigil appeared; a bespectacled, soft mannered man who looked more like someone selling handphones at Sim Lim Square than a hero or a martyr and with as much charisma as a wet paper towel. He eagerly approached us and said: `Oh you must be from the New York Times to cover me and this important event”. Before we could correct him, he continued: `My name is Rowan. But you can call me Roy. Some people call me David as in David and Goliath. I prefer Mahatma but whatevah gurl!”
When asked why a small number Singaporeans see him as the hero figure, this was what he got to say:
“Millions of Singaporeans support me because they believe in what I wrote. You can see this in my pie-chart, the portion coloured blue. The portion coloured pink, you can ignore it. They are the PAP IBs who are ignorant and blind. I have exposed the shenanigans of the PAP government concerning our CPF. Do you know that they actually invested our CPF monies to make more money? How dare them! You can see this clearly in my flow-chart detailing where our CPF monies had gone to. The red line goes to the GIC. The purple line goes to Temasek Holdings. And the green line showed the link between GIC and Temasek Holdings. I am still trying to link the yellow line as soon as I got the facts from Wikipaedia. There is also a white line linking the PM to the CPF but because the background is also white, you cannot actually see the line. I am sorry.”
“That is why I am fighting for our CPF to be returned. The government must realise that Singaporeans are not stupid. We know how to manage our own money that we have earned by our own sheer hard work!” When asked what his present job is, he replied: `Unemployed.”
We asked him whether he felt any shame in organising a candlelight vigil which is normally reserved for people of high standing such as Nelson Mandela or Mother Theresa. He said:` I am no different from them. I am also fighting for the rights of Singaporeans. I want to set them free from this dictatorship that has enslaved the people for so long. Just like them, I am not afraid to die. I will fight to my last breath! I am for truth and justice!” When asked whether he had admitted to lying about the PM for fear of being sued, he replied, “Yes. But that’s because I am afraid to go to jail. I’ve got a blog to manage.”
“As you can see from the poll that I have conducted from 16 respondents, millions of Singaporeans support me. But they can’t be here tonight because of the lack of candles. You can blame the PAP government for this. Singaporeans are so poor that they cannot even afford candles. They are so poor that they cannot even afford the travelling expenses to come here.”
“I am a very simple person. I do not aspire for fame, power or wealth. They are meaningless to me. By the way, can you publish my bank account number for anyone who wants to donate to me for my daily expenses? Blogging is hard work and it doesn’t pay.”
Before we could interview him further, a skinny young woman interrupted us and said that Rowan@Roy@David@Mahatma needed to meet his subjects to prepare for the vigil. The woman identified herself as Helen Han Hutang. She said that she was the co-organiser of the event.
“I heard you are from The New York Times. Welcome to this horrible country!”
“Actually I myself originated from Malaysia but two years ago I decided to be a Singaporean citizen. I totally regretted it. I thought it was easy to becaome rich in this country without doing anything much. But there is so much hardwork. I just cannot compete with all the foreign talents and new citizens. All the new citizens are rubbish!”
“Now I hope to go to maybe Sweden to be a citizen there. I heard they give you dole if you are not working. Good right?”
When asked whether she was disappointed with the lacklustre response to the vigil. She said:` No. It is a blessing in disguise. It is good that the millions of supporters, according to Roy’s second piechart, decided to offer their prayers at home. It has been hazy these past few days and if millions of candles are being burnt, it will add to the PSI reading. We don’t want that to happen although it might hasten LKY’s demise which might be good. We are very reasonable people. We have never asked for bad things to happen to anybody.”
“The Singapore government cheat us of our CPF monies. CPF is our hard-earned money! We want it back!” When asked whether she had any substantial CPF savings, she replied `No. By the way, can you publish my bank account number for anyone who wants to donate to my expenses. Organising all these protests is expensive and I need to visit sweden for a study tour”
We left the park just when the ten or so sympathizers started to burn some candles.
On our way back, we passed by a wine bar and saw an elegant Tai-Tai looking Aunty sipping on a glass of wine. She called out to us and introduced herself as Cathy.
“You guys are just coming back from Hong Lim Park?” When we said yes, she continued: “All these protests lately. This just shows that the government is losing the trust of the people. They really need to do something about the ex-detainees. In my younger days, there was no protest at all. Now, the internet is so full of people protesting and complaining about the government. It has never happen before.” We wanted to remind her that during her yournger days there was no internet but we didn’t want to disappoint her.
“So was there alot of people at the park?” We said that there was only about ten but that was because according to the organiser, there was a lack of candles.
“You see what I mean? It is so difficult to live in Singapore now. They can’t even afford to buy sandals to go to the park. The government has really lost the trust of the people when they cannot even provide decent, affordable sandals for the population.”
We told her that it was `candles’ and not `sandals’.
“Oh candles? I don’t know about that. I use Chandeliers for lighting in my house.”
POLICE UPDATE: The Police issued a statement that they are looking at a syndicate that attempted to corner the candle-market by buying and hoarding all the candles in Singapore in anticipation of the expected high demand for the candlelight vigil. The leader of the syndicate had believed all the hyperbole that the vigil would attract millions of people and decided to make a quick profit. The Police believe that the syndicate only managed to sell about 20 candles to unsuspecting people.
TSB – This is pure fiction. All similiarities to events or people, whether dead or alive, stupid or not, are mere coincidence.