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What’s this marvellous ‘economic wonder’ of Asia named Singapore really like? Well, it is almost everything you’d expect from a modern industrialized city. Things are pretty organized on the surface – loads of shopping malls, an efficient inter-district train system named the MRT, clean roads, hygienic tap water, etc. – to the point that it was all taken for granted as sterile. Being one who’s keen on ‘undercurrents’, I am here to introduce another side of Singapore many Singaporeans would choose not to discuss for fear of reprisal from the powerful morning press The Straits Times. Powerful, because it is the national paper that defines all things Singaporean and what’s acceptable within the establishment.
For a start, the press and all forms of the broadcasting media are firmly controlled by the Singapore Government through the MDA – Media Development Authority. If that doesn’t raise your eyebrow, perhaps this might: Recently a pal mentioned to his fellow Briton that I have a new third book that critiques Singapore, to which the fellow Briton remarked – Isn’t there any government in Singapore that X’ likes? My pal’s reply did shock the Briton – But there’s been only one government since Singapore’s independence in 1965!
X’ Ho is a Singapore musician/author/experimental filmmaker who is better accepted back home as Chris Ho, the DJ. To date, he has written three books about Singapore and made six shorts – the fourth Allen Ginsberg Gives Great Head was the only film from Singapore to be in competition at the International Film Festival, Rotterdam 2008. His new solo music-album No Ordinary Country, now the first ‘protest folk’ album from Singapore, received this praise from The Business Times: “(It) should be required listening for anyone interested in plugging into a part of Singapore’s zeitgeist that too often lies simmering below the surface.”