By Augustine Low
Let’s hand out awards to newsmakers and headline grabbers who gave us much to talk and snipe about in 2017.
The Survivor – Desmond Kuek
For much of the year, Desmond Kuek was Dead Man Walking of Singapore. It’s no joke to be in that dreaded situation, with people are calling for the axe to fall on you everyday. You don’t know when you are going to get that call or letter, and go to sleep not knowing if you’re going to be woken up by a call from a staff member telling you something has gone terribly wrong YET again. But it looks like Kuek has survived and will still end 2017 as CEO of SMRT. For that he gets the Survivor of the Year Award.
The Tai Chi Master – Khaw Boon Wan
On the subject of SMRT, Khaw Boon Wan found every which way to deflect blame and criticism. He blamed bad luck, maintenance crew, suppliers, the CEO …. anyone but himself. He gave us lessons about honest mistakes, about having one’s heart in the right place, about ageing double quick on the job because one is so committed and is kept awake at night. This one is easy – Khaw gets the Tai Chi Master of the Year Award.
The Victim – Lee Hsien Loong
In the wee hours of the morning, when PM Le Hsien Loong and wife Ho Ching were away on holiday, Lee Hsien Yang and Lee Wei Ling sprang a bombshell and rocked Singapore. And from that moment on, PM Lee played the victim card to the hilt. He was innocent of all accusations hurled at him, he was deeply anguished, he called a Parliament sitting and then ownself declared ownself cleared of all charges. PM Lee is the clear winner of the Victim of the Year Award.
The Sexpert – Josephine Teo
“You only need a small space to have sex.” How unforgettable these words from the mouth of Josephine Teo! As a rejoinder, Singaporeans could say: You only need a small brain to be Minister, and a small salary to survive. You’ve got to hand it to Teo for coming out with the line that spawned a thousand babies – or more likely a thousand jokes. No one else comes close – she gets the Sexpert of the Year Award.
The Vanquished – Tan Cheng Bock
It was obvious that Dr Tan Cheng Bock was always going to be denied the right to join in the race for the presidency. The PAP was determined to stop him no matter what. They did everything in their power, and everything outside the norms of decency, to do so. Against the might of the PAP and their entire machinery, Dr Tan did not stand a chance and his hopes and dreams vanished into thin air. He receives the Vanquished of the Year Award.
Will 2018 be as memorable a year for headline grabbers? Let’s stay tuned.