So what’s new? The creator of popular travel video series Nas Daily, Mr Nuseir Yassin, has hit back at those who have decried his video series on Singapore, one of which was a five-minute video that lauded the island state as an “almost perfect” country. Not surprisingly, he quickly drew flak from the folks who were always complaining. He was challenged to take up citizenship here and he counter challenged his critic to live in the Middle East.
Nas said: “One thing my travels have taught me is that a lot of people lack PERSPECTIVE. And in Singapore, too many people lack it.”
He went further to dismiss his critic as crybaby living in a bubble. Interestingly, Nas got a lot of support from Singaporeans. This may seem weird since the likes of Amos Yee and Roy Ngerng also got a lot of support from Singaporeans. So who do we agree with? Imagine if an ordinary Singaporean makes a video praising Singapore as an almost perfect country. He’d be drowning in rotten tomatoes. Even Xiaxue didn’t have an easy time when she praised our government’s policies. Yep, we’re looking at double standards. With 8.2 million followers on Facebook, Nas is a megastar on social media. Throw a grain of sand at him and you’ll face the wrath of his hordes of fans. I’m surprised his critic is still alive.
To be fair to Nas and like I’ve always said, Singapore can be a very pleasant place to live. Many people from neighbouring countries would give an arm or a leg to live here and if you understand their situation in the slums of Jakarta or the ghettos in Bangkok (or some warzone in the Middle East), there is no debate over which place is more pleasant.
But Nas himself may be lacking in a historical perspective. I once told an Indonesia accountant who loved working in Singapore that she came a little too late. Singapore used to be even more lovable than in now is. Historically, our trains ran smoothly and were less crowded. Historically, public housing was affordable. Historically, our professionals didn’t get retrenched at 45 to do menial jobs. Historically, our own citizens had priority over foreigners. Historically, our institutes of higher learning upheld high standards. We did not have scholars in our universities who can’t speak English to save their lives while our own citizens who did badly for English are denied the same privileges.
I don’t know about the “crybabies”, but I complain when I see things deteriorating in my country. China is not perfect. Nepal is not perfect. Indonesia is not perfect. Malaysia is not perfect, but over the years, I have seen my friends in Nepal, my relatives in China, Malaysia and Indonesia who literally went from rags to riches while some of my Singaporean friends and relatives went the other way and most of the rest remained more or less the same. Opportunities are drying up. The playing field is no longer level. Yes, the slum-dweller or the shell-shocked Middle Easterner would still want to come to Singapore, but we’re talking about perspectives (not forgetting the historical perspective), aren’t we?
When we say that Singapore is almost perfect or it’s paradise, we have to qualify that statement. For whom is it almost perfect? For whom is it almost paradise?
A former general manager of the Ang Mo Kio Town Council (AMKTC) had allegedly awarded 11 town council tenders and contracts worth millions of dollars to two companies after accepting bribes from their directors. Wong Chee Meng, 58 and also known as Victor Wong, had in April pleaded not guilty to taking bribes totalling over $107,000.
The bribes, amounting to more than $107,000, were allegedly taken between December 2014 and September 2016. According to court documents, they include:
• Remittances to Wong’s mistress in China worth $30,600;
• Restaurant bills worth $5,000;
• A $13,500 discount on a Toyota Corolla Altis that Wong bought;
• A spa treatment in Geylang that cost around $1,070; (yao mo gao chor ah?)
• Stays at budget hotels Fragrance Hotel and Hotel 81, which cost about $35 and $30 respectively;
• Entertainment expenses of more than $40,000 at various KTV lounges and nightclubs;
• A job for Wong’s daughter-in-law Le Thi Hien at the firm 4-Ever Engineering. Chia’s company 19-ANC Enterprise paid $8,247.67 towards her salary between March and August 2016;
• Charges amounting to $2,527.76 for Wong’s use of an M1 mobile phone line.
Yes, this is quite over-the-top. Not many people can end up as a general manager of a GRC as big as Ang Mo Kio’s but the point is, does Nas even bother to look into what goes on behind all that wealth and extravagance?