The rich men’s horror circus that is the F1 aka “revived but inauthentic Singapore Grand Prix” will not be coming to town in September this year – because of Covid-19. It is not considered safe to hold it. Period. The other equally big event-killing reason is that it may take a while in the post-coronavirus era for the global tourism industry and entertainment business to get back to anything near normal, if ever. No traffic volume, no spending, no marquee shows, no revenue, no fun, no raison d’être.
Good riddance. Let’s hope its absence will be permanent. The cons have so clearly outweighed the pros that it is a wonder that this thing has been allowed to go on and on and on and on since 2008.
The main reasons for permitting the travelling F1 show to rudely disrupt ordinary Singaporeans’ lives for at least a week every year for the last 12 years are supposed to have been to liven up the urban scene, push our international image as a hip and happening city, bring in tourist and convention business money and let Beyonce and Dua Lupa – and their swooning fans – know where Singapore is.
The cash part: The Ministry of Trade and Industry and Singapore Tourism Board fund 60 per cent of the $135 million race costs each year, with the Singapore GP footing the rest, according to The Straits Times. The race weekend contributes about $130 million annually in tourism receipts.
So we do gain financially, or at least we do not lose. We are not exactly throwing money away for some unquantifiable returns, then.
The island’s glamour profile must have been boosted considerably.
Some of the top names in the show business have been adding Singapore to their touring circuits.
But anything so artificial, transplanted and inorganic usually has a definite shelf life. After a while, it becomes repetitive and boring.
Fast cars speeding through the streets are just fast cars speeding through the streets. And it is always nearly the same set of drivers behind the wheels, maybe with different girlfriends each year when they leave the pit area.
So perhaps the whole nightmare would have died a natural death sooner than later anyway.
For many Singaporeans though, the sooner the blight which has been foisted upon them is erased, the better.
The F1 has had near-zero support from most locals. Their routine is disrupted. Businesses suffer in the city area where the race is held – in the lead-up to and during the race. Their frustration has seldom been acknowledged, it is simply brushed aside like it does not matter.
The diversion of bus routes adds to the woes of helpless commuters. No one up there cares about this yearly chaos, so long as they can get to rub shoulders (in the pre-Covid-19 years) with celebrities they would not ordinarily have the chance to be anywhere near.
What about the fabulous shows? What about them? Do the FairPrice and Giant crowds have the moolah to pay for those $400-$500 tickets? Do they even know who Gwen Stefani, Swedish House Mafia and The Killers are?
“But I’ve seen locals at these shows.” Corporate sponsors’ tickets brought them there. On their own, some might well be at places like the Padang where they pay $100 to catch a glimpse of celebrities a galaxy or two away.
For most Singaporeans, the F1 has had nothing to do with them. They do not relate in any way whatsoever to the event.
Their views have never been sought in the first place. The inconvenience inflicted on them has been brushed aside and ignored.
The obsequious mainstream media paints the scrapping of this year’s race as “the biggest blow to the country’s sports calendar”. Surely not. I would regard it as a massive and overdue blow against an elitist and rich men’s plaything concocted at the expense of ordinary Singaporeans.
We are not anyone’s playground. People work and live here and have the right to reject something so alien and offensive to them.
Don’t force the elderly to absorb new technology
You can teach them, you can encourage them, you can even offer them free laptops and free smartphones. And still, they may not want to use them.
As you age, your eyesight is no longer what it was when you were younger. Even enlarging the tiny letters does not help.
Modern devices require fingering. But your fingers are unsteady.
Smartphones are not small, unlike the old Nokias which can be easily slipped into the shirt or trouser pocket.
Technology should serve people. Until someone bothers to come up with devices which are genuinely elder-friendly, most elderly people would rather not bother. And society cannot and should not force them, please.
Tan Bah Bah is a former senior leader writer with The Straits Times. He was also managing editor of a local magazine publishing company.