With 2011 a very recent memory, I believe that there are many things we've learnt here that is uniquely Singapore. Here’s a tongue-in-cheek look back at the newsmakers and events of 2011.
1. Singaporeans Want More Naughty Than Nice
For retailers looking at cracking the already-congested apparel market in Singapore, there is an almost sure-fire way to sell more clothes now. Initially blasted by conservative groups and the media for its irrelevant display of flesh in its advertising, American fashion line Abercrombie & Fitch took it one step further and paraded their whole line of shirtless hunks right in the heart of the country’s busiest shopping district. No outcry was heard – the only cries were the sounds of squealing young (and older) girls who queued up and had their photos taken with the men, before flooding their Facebook walls with the pictures, helping A&F chalk up possibly thousands of dollars of unpaid publicity.
2. Singaporeans Are Capable of Hollywood Action Movies
A train is stuck in the middle of a dark, winding tunnel. You exchange nervous glances with the people around you, all the while thinking about the paranoid announcement: “If you see any suspicious looking person, or article…” You start to breathe heavily as the air around you thins out. Just when you think that there is no hope left, a glass door shatters and cool air rushes in. You are saved!
If you think that that was a sequence from the latest Final Destination movie, think again. A track fault on 15 December plunged the SMRT system into utter chaos, affecting 127,000 passengers. However, the most newsworthy incident that emerged was a man who broke the glass door of a train that was stuck in its tracks, as passengers were feeling faint from the stuffy carriage.
So, whoever said Singaporeans are just a bunch of passive on-lookers with a bo-chap attitude?
3. Social Media Has A Loud, Singaporean Voice
Before the advent of Facebook and Twitter, the general consensus was that Singaporeans are apathetic when it came to the local political scene. Boy, were we in for a surprise this year. During the historic General Elections of 2011, the youths have never been more vocal, sharing videos of opposition party rallies, and banding together to garner tens of thousands of ‘likes’ for beloved public figures like George Yeo.
Updates were flooding in by the minute, and down to the second on the day of the results. Social media became the go-to platform for timely news, evidently quicker than television sources. Whether was it a ‘social media election’ or not, the final results saw PAP losing the Aljunied GRC to the Workers’ Party, the first time this has ever happened in Singapore’s history.
4. Umbrellas in Rainy Singapore Are No Longer Enough
It was a wet Christmas season for many as the incessant downpour dampened many a shopping spirit. But what 2011 have taught us is that bringing your usual foldable umbrella is no longer sufficient to shield you from the rain. The epic floods in June along Orchard Road showed that we probably need at least a pair of construction worker boots to wade the knee-high waters, or in some underground cases like Tanglin Mall, a life vest. The flash floods are the worst Singapore has seen in years, with PUB attributing the seriousness of it to inadequate drainage to cope with the large amount of water.
I guess it’s time to renew those swimming lessons.
5. Don’t Mess With A Singaporean Ah-Beng
The viral video of 18-year-old Aaron Tan warning – or in his wise words, wong-ing – a 14-year-old Ryanzxc Gobangwall (Facebook name) for flirting with his girlfriend (“Nina Wantyouonly”) has caught the web by storm. In the 10 minutes 30 seconds opus, the golden-haired teen took viewers through a Singlish and Hokkien rollercoaster of verbal abuse hurled at his love rival, whilst examining in close detail his slew of Facebook status updates. When he looks at the screen and wags his finger at you, you cannot help but berieve, I mean believe, him when he said he would take a bus down from his school to beat you up. Aaron’s threats are so famous that individuals ranging from Singapore blogger Mr. Brown to an American teenager have spoofed him on YouTube.
However, what is scarier than an Ah-Beng threatening to come after you? Well, an incomprehensible Facebook name, of course.
What other lessons have you picked up from the eventful year of 2011? Share with us in the comments box below!
Here’s to living your life to the fullest in 2012. Happy New Year!
By Wilson Ng