Look lah!…Temasek….Merlion…Suicides…Is God Angry With Singapore?

March 15, 2009

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Is God angry with Singapore? Well it would seem so judging from the dumbstruck look of the Merlion as a few bangla’s proceed to drill lightning arrestors on his head – I really don’t know which is worse really getting struck by lightning or having to wear stainless steel horns; as all he really wants to do is to vomit water all day long – and recently, when I walked into a lift – an uncle was going on about the evil rule of 3’s – and guess what – it all made sense, three recent unnatural deaths and that was the day when it took me three attempts to pull up my zipper (maybe I should lay off economy beehon for a while) – all of them seemingly occurring at the same time involving bright and mobile scholars (shouldn’t they be working on a cure for cancer or something instead of experimenting on inventive ways to do themselves in?)

Is there a common link to all these strange happenings? Is it an omen; is the waters in Marina bay going to turn red; was the Singapore flyer trying to tell us all something when it stopped suddenly for no reason? Will there be a full eclipse of the sun and moon? And just when you think; the story couldn’t get more surreal; to cap it off we have added shock and awe of the recession.

 

Yes, it’s easy to believe God is pissed with us and I don’t think it has anything to do with my aftershave either; this is serious; maybe I should start taking flower baths; maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to give away my lucky T shirt after all.

But you know what mumbo jumbo theories have always been around since the beginning of time: even long before the age of the internet, man had shown an insatiable appetite for the bizarre and superfluous. In the middle ages, the legend of Prester John riveted European courtiers no end as charlatans recounted the legend of a mighty Christian king who supposedly ruled a twelfth-century Asian realm rich in sapphires and free of snakes, scorpions and noisy frogs. And long before that Romans believed the waters of the river Tiber were poisoned by a dwarf like creature (now you know why dwarf throwing is a sport on the continent), boosting the production and sale of cups made of lead which supposedly neutralized this poison (could this explain why the Romans are no longer a super power these days?).

These days with the advent of the internet, conspiracy theories abound like demented Jacks-in-the-box. One in five Americans believe the World Trade center was brought down by the CIA to justify a war against Iraq. One in ten Americans do not believe a plane slammed into the pentagon. (If that is so, where did a plane, half the size of a football pitch, and over 200 passengers, go?) Yes, in conspiracy theory ganja land, when all fails, we always have the trusted “get out of jail free” card: The Bermuda triangle.

Nearly 80% of diehard royalist believe that Lady Diana was killed by the royal mafia. If you try to argue with them, they will show you historical precedents going all the way back to Henry VIII when British monarchs regularly lobbed heads off like dandelions, irrevocable proof that an evil murderous bloodline runs through the house of Windsor mafia clan. Over 300,000 Americans believe Elvis is still driving around Texas in a pink convertible Cadillac and nearly three times this number have actually claimed to have seen him. One in three people actually believe the Vatican and NASA have entered a secret pact to convert little green men into Catholics. And just in case you are wondering, there are actually people who believe in a conspiracy that the water supply in America is laced with mind bending LSD. Closer to home, we all know Mat Selamat was abducted by aliens – how else could a man with a bad leg pull of a reenactment of Shawshank redemption all by himself; that could explain the mountains of toilet rolls; after all, we all know those little green men cant be taller than pygmies.

My favorite conspiracy theory is the one propagated by the ministry of very homely affairs headed of course by my 86 year old grumpy granny who has a theory that the chicken rice man actually paints his birds a yellow tinge to give it a healthy and natural glow. Of course I humor her by removing the skin, but it hardly helps when the topic of discussion every weekend when we eat there is: where did the chicken man hide his pail of ICI? The funny thing about conspiracy theories is, they are a bit like culture (I am not referring to art galleries rather the Petri dish variety) – they multiply and grow. So, one day, when the chicken tasted a bit gamey, I could have sworn that it tasted a bit like paint – see what I mean.

Fortunately as far as conspiracy theories go, we Singaporeans are still very much tender foot babies. So far, our mania has been confined to bubble tea, bleached chopsticks, doggy Malaysian veggies. We haven’t really gone overboard have we? We are, after all, the level headed sort (yes, I need a side table to put my tiger beer and chips during my football matches, so if you are female, pretty and level headed please do volunteer to complete my Ikea collection.).

I guess in an age where anything is possible, skepticism is vogue and straight forward explanations are simply passe. Any theory, no matter how implausible, garners its fair share of adherents. Like the fable marijuana smoker, some will always gravitate towards the harder stuff, while others are content to stick to second hand smoking.

One reason why conspiracy theories take hold is because it palliates much of our fears that stems from our condition of powerlessness and impotence. When times are uncertain people naturally feel they have absolutely no control over their lives and its sharpened when those levers of power are suddenly connected to nothing – we panic, our heart rate shoots up, we sweat and the feeling of estrangement is heightened.

It doesn’t help either when so many things which once served as all weather reliable providers of the good job, good home and good life – have simply frittered away with each successive revelation that simply tells us the evil eye is fixed squarely on our lot – its hard, if not impossible even these days to believe in anything and anyone any more; even the whole idea of leadership is challenged; when so many have recently been defrocked as con artist, congenital liars and psychopaths who were simply out to hoodwink us all – harder even to buy into the idea of permanence when so many things which were once fixed like bollards seem to have given way like the river to the infinity of the sea – firms, businesses, political parties, ideologies and even the whole idea of good and bad are all up there in suspended animation . Against this topsy turvy world – where we might even be floating around lost and rudderless, it’s all to easy for many of us to confect all sorts of theories to soothe our battered sense and sensibilities; simple explanations it seems just doesn’t seem to be able to square off the accounts between our shattered dreams and the faint sense of hope that we once so carefully nurtured – if anything only the fantastical; surreal and incredulous seem to be able to able to supply a cogent account.

But maybe lightning just follows the path of least resistance and strikes very much like the roll of an ivory ball on a roulette wheel; there’s really no art or design to it; maybe a suicide is just a suicide and reading more into it may just as well produce nothing more than a mass of confused thoughts at work; maybe firms just belly up because that’s what happens when lousy leaders make lousy decisions; God isn’t angry with us; the Jews didn’t cause a global recession; the freemasons aren’t adding mind bending drugs into our water supply and the evil brotherhood isn’t trying to rule the internet.

It’s all up there in your mind, spinning like windmills – breathe…it’s just another day in Singapore.

Darkness 2009

The Brotherhood Press

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