Stalin: "A single death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic."
And four deaths is...?
At some psychological level the four girls must have accepted that risk of death at sea. This is something that comes with the profession, something accepted, like the burnt weekends, the regimentation, that unreasonable increase in insurance premiums. What they probably did not expect was to die in the line of duty. But then again they probably died in their sleep, saving them that fictional flash of life in front of their eyes, that hopeless gasping for air. At least we hope so.
They are the unintentional victims of the greater political manoeuvres, literally wrong place, wrong time. The television snippets of their funerals tug at our tragedy-tuned heartstrings. Yet no-one forced them to be there. Greater tragedies occur, regularly, to those who have no choice but to do their service to the country. What if we televised the funeral of every 18-year-old suicide? Or published every death or serious injury from "human error"? Are these the hidden costs in the Mindef budget?
I have utmost respect for these girls and their families, they have given the ultimate sacrifice to the nation. What I am saying is that perhaps we should reconsider the cost of protecting our economic and political sanctity. Our military is glibly portrayed (in that expensive branding exercise that is "Army 21") as a deterrent force, a force of last resort, a decisive force.
What decision has the military made on terrorism? No matter how many fanatics get arrested, there will always remain that residue of fear. It takes but one elusive to set off a bomb. A modern army equipped with infrared goggles cannot fight an enemy it cannot see. It is laughably ironic that the white paper reports show that the detainees had innovatively combined doctrine from the Al-Qaeda training manuals with what they had learnt in their own NS military training. Thus, indirectly, our military has sponsored terrorism.
What deterrence has the military provided against the force of rumour and rhetoric? Aren't foreign newspapers afraid that we might send an airstrike on their offices? Why is it that the buildup of close relations through the years with our friends across the border can disintegrate so easily? I shudder to think what slurs could be put in the mouths of our actresses. We cannot seriously believe that we could carry off, in the long run, a Rambo-style Israeli strategy. Besides, we do not have animosity dating back to the bronze age.
Consistently the risks to our security have been viewed as external, to the point that even those arrested in the name of internal security are said to be puppets of external demons. It is as our population is too docile to produce our own dissidents. (Were not our nation builders originally dissidents?). It is always us-against-the-world. We tend to forget that relatively recently, there was no "us". The breeding of a seige mentality is not helpful as it neither allows the building of good ties with neighbours, nor is it a good basis for our own cohesion. The recent events have built a new surge of patriotism, but before we drink from that groundswell of nationalistic pride, perhaps we should be careful about angrily waving these paper agreements and talking emotionally about sovereignty. The best military in the world cannot defeat a recession. If we are truly concerned about the economy, we have to work together, as partners, build strong ties, and explore opportunities together.
Let us not let those sacrifices be in vain.
This tragic issue is dedicated to:
Mary Hansen of Stereolab
Maurice Gibbs of The Bee Gees
Joe Strummer of The Clash
Rick Husband, William McCool, Michael Anderson, Kalpana Chawla, David Brown, Laurel Clark and Ilan Ramon, crew of Space Shuttle Columbia
1SG Seah Ai Leng, 1SG Heng Sock Ling, 2SG Chua Bee Lin, CPL Goh Hui Ling, crew of RSS Courageous
smell the fire: this
is pitch-song. fastitocalon drowns
in a bowl of fire: his
own sweet smell betrays him.
she is the sort born too late.
an earlier age would offer more
to rage against: cf. the burning of bras
cf. the raping of locks
and oh, oh the joys
of picketing the makers of whale-bone corsets.
I eat the flesh and skin and eyes
of fish sadly unschooled
out of their bass natures.
I take inventory:
sockets, rami, branchial arches
muscle, cartilage, pectoral
pelvic, dorsal, anal, caudal
fin fin fin fin fin fin
flesh and skin and eyes.
water passes fire passes
wind and notes and burns in schools:
you can hear it
but is it keening or siren-song? fastitocalon
drowns in fire.
It is failing of school system! Come, we have
beautiful time. Collon is make crisp and bright,
for your benefit:
Harmony! Artistic! Providence!
Do try our Nippon.
But during the above speech the play fades, overtaken by dark and music.
On Saturday night, June 15, 2002, I stopped at Jay's Diner: an original 1950s outdoor diner the size of a walk-in closet with about eight stools curved around it. I sat down with my back to traffic and ordered a double chili cheeseburger. To my left an obese gentleman bit into a hamburger. Addressing no one in particular, he announced that he had just ordered a hamburger instead of a hot dog for the very first time since he began eating dinner here in 1950. Glancing at the only two options on the menu I inquired why after so many years he had changed his mind. He thought for a moment and said, "I don't know."
Greg Marcks, director of 11:14
Check out the latest designs at their new shop!
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Far East Plaza #01-30
Tel: 6341 9175
If so many spam offers weren't totally bogus, Hotmail users would be incredibly well-endowed, slim people with plenty of hair who make big money working at home when they aren't having great sex provoked by free porn and herbal Viagra.
Wired News 9 Jan 2003
Singapore and Malaysia were featured on The Amazing Race today. I wanted to call you immediately but forgot the international dialling code for Ipoh and couldn't remember where I put that hotel note pad where you scribbled it on. It was only later that I realised it may not have been telecast at the same time where you are. At Central Station, the train was bound for "Singapura". Is that how you refer to Singapore too? One thing that annoyed me about today's episode was when the commentator introduced the fountain at Suntec City. He said that this was a fountain "which water locals belief will bring good luck and fortune". So now people will think that Singapore is a backwater village in the middle of the South China Sea or Indochina or China or whatever. Anyway, we know what we think of these good luck charms right, Becky? I remember the snake show in Bangkok the last time I saw you two years ago. We were told that a touch of the serpent would bring a lifetime of wealth and you asked "Then why does the snake keeper still have to work as a snake keeper?" Ha ha. I'll always remember that. Vito and Jill, the American couple, got eliminated in today's Singapore leg. As they were rushing to the pit stop at Mount Faber, Jill said something unforgettable to Vito which sounded more like a warning for his heart than a traffic caution: "Baby, be careful driving on the wrong side of the road".
- Remorse was the last thing on Gao Yang's mind after stabbing his English teacher 40 times with a fruit knife. Defiant to the end, the 16-year-old left a note after his shocking act in Shandong last September that said: "I owe the world nothing."
Straits Times, 12 Jan 2003
"I don't see the Brooklyn Bridge or the Statue of Liberty as the real targets. At the end of the day people would be angry if you blew up the Statue of Liberty, but it's not frightening."
we are camouflaged action superheroes.
Their ample annual coverage
an advertisement for chiseled cheekbones
same-styled bristled buzzcuts
body squared to the front
stomachs in, chest out.
Plastic legs shoulder width apart.
A public display of their self assured, sizable manhood
Customer satisfaction guaranteed.
Her blanketed night sky is concealing
expressions of non expression.
Tensingly untensed facial muscles.
She aids us in our quest for tactical defense.
Her winking eyes
Tempting an exodic retrograde into anonymity.
We wriggle our minefield treading toes within paraded boots,
An absurd act of defiance.
That by casting us into eurhythmics performing,
ethics preaching wax figurines.
We would be lesser beings.
At least in their eyes.
So that they can pat each other on their backs,
relishing in comforted knowledge.
Shutting our windows into their souls in peaceful deception,
enjoying the recession into guiltless sleep.
Our arms are so close
that the hairs on the back of our forearms
are speaking to each other on electrostatic terms.
Dead cells questioning each other,
as to why their living counterparts refuse to register
each other?s presence?
But what do dead cells know?
They are but a shadow of what they use to be,
clinging on to living pores,
desperately dreading the imminent prospect of shedding,
and existing as an individual.
A whole part
instead of part of a whole.
Yang tinggi ke kanan, yang rendah ke kiri, dalam satu barisan, Paras! Dari kanan, angka satu dua bilang! Nombor ganjil satu langkah ke hadapan, nombor genap satu langkah ke belakang, Gerak! Orang yang di sebelah kanan diam. Nombor ganjil ke kanan, nombor genap ke kiri, barisan ke kanan dan ke kiri Pusing! Jadikan tiga barisan, Cepat Jalan!
boy don't stick your hand out of the window
never use your commonsense
lorry pass by chop it off then you know
ya chop it off
like my neighbour lah
one arm man
we all so scared of him
you think i bluff you ah
no hand how to eat how to work how to live
so ugly nobody want to marry you
put your hand inside
you stupid boy
you still dowan to listen?
i slap you then you know
give you one tight slap then you'll learn to behave yourself
nowsadays you children are so rebellious
in my time
you think i dare behave like you
one ear in one ear out
pretend not to hear
you think i don't know is it?
ha? what did you say?
you stupid boy
how can you be so rude to your mother?
you want me to slap you?
then you better shut up and listen to me
my mother ah
tell you one time don't listen
okay she keep quiet
wait and see
tell you one more time still don't listen
kena slap until got red marks
rub hot chilli in the mouth
use belt and beat
beat till you all blueblack
cry? cry lor
who ask you not to listen?
i tell you
your generation dam lucky
you don't have to go through all that
boy what are you doing
why are you sticking your head out
you want to end up like chicken rice chicken is it
put it inside
listen to me
what are you doing
I write you in spite of years of silence.
You've cleaned up, found Jesus, things are good or so I hear.
This bottle of Steven's awakens ancient feelings.
Like father, stepfather, the son is drowning in the flood.
Weezer, "Say It Ain't So"
FIN. © 2003 Nicholas Liu
"it's just a damn t-shirt" - interview with Hooked Clothings © 2003 Shannon Low
Joboy Kit © 2003 Shannon Low
Non dimenticar © 2003 Daren Shiau
Bearbricks are Dangerous! Series 3 © 2003 Shannon Low
Last Parade © 2003 Loo Zihan
parental guidance advised © 2003 Michelle Low