Sunday, May 29, 2011

SPORE ART SALON, Monday 30 May, 7-11pm

The SPORE Art Salon, our monthly multidisciplinary showcase of performance poets, artists and musicians, is back! Be at Echo Loft in Chinatown tomorrow night to check us out!

Plus, we've lowered the donation price to $15 to make it more affordable. Proceeds benefit the ECHO Music Sponsorship Program for disadvantaged kids.

There will be models posing between performances and you are encouraged to take part in these mini live drawing sessions. I'd really like to recommend Miriam Nash (a splendid British performance poet who's leaving Singapore soon) and Ben Chow (a splendid Singaporean slam poet, full stop).

SPORE Art Salon
Tuesday 29 March, 7-11pm
ECHO Loft, Chinatown
Corner of Smith Street and South Bridge Rd, Second Floor
$20 for entry (including performance, sketching and food)!/event.php?eid=206097452746078


Bill Leary is a master jazz musician, who aims to educate and entertain people with his music. He will remove some of the mystery and myths about jazz music, and make it accessible to all listeners. Many times people are turned off by jazz because they don't truly understand the art form. Allow Bill to be your tour guide through this organic and ever-changing art form.

BEN CHOW: Benjamin spends most of his time slouched over a desk in a dark cobweb infested basement. He survives on rats and the occasional snake while crafting short little horror stories that often don't scare people as much as he would like. However, during those rare moments when Benjamin does crawl out from beneath the woodwork, he has been known to sing, loudly and annoyingly, and sometimes even tap dance. Benjamin sightings have been few and far between, but he has been recorded to have been seen at Blue Jazz, during their monthly poetry slams, at TAPAC (the Telok Ayer Performing Arts Centre), during their fortnightly Open Mics, and every now and then in one or two really off-off-OFF Broadway musicals. Nowadays, Benjamin is spending more and more time masquerading as a Student of Lasalle's BA (Hons) Acting Programme, while secretly using the basement there for his dark and mysterious purposes. It's more spacious. And they have a great theatre. Go figure.

MIRIAM NASH: Miriam Nash is a British poet, currently sneaking around Singapore. She has performed her poetry in London, Chicago and Singapore, at the Esplanade, the Arts House, Tate Modern, Tate Britain, Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, Young Chicago Authors and too many bars and cafés to count. She appears regularly at Word Forward’s Blu Jaz SLAMs and her work has been featured on 938LIVE. She coordinated England’s first national youth poetry SLAM and regularly runs workshops in schools. Her first book of poems will be published this year by flipped eye publishing.

NOLUYANDA MQULWANA: Is an engaging and passionate choreographer and dancer from South Africa. She brings a genuine and heartfelt authenticity to all her projects. She is looking forward to inspiring the art salon with her sensitivity and strength...a performance that MUST be seen!


AVA TAN: This talented artist was born in Shan Dong province of China where she came to experience painting through the master Ma Yan Hong and later came to love painting as she continued to fervently pursue numerous summer programs in Beijing before enrolling at the local art high school. Her current work explores an inward turning world that appears incongruent from the workings of a sensing body. Through a voyueristic glass that is turned upon the human self and its various participants, it is at once a sympathetic and disparate view of an amorphous body image when the lines between performance and reality are blurred in the eyes of others as they are turned in upon oneself.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Moving Words launch today, 4-6pm @ Esplanade XChange!

Have you heard about Moving Words, the new initiative by The Literary Centre to promote Singapore poetry? It'll be launched today at 4pm, Esplanade XChange, right next to Dunkin Donuts.

There'll be poetry readings from Singapore’s established poets whose works are gonna be featured on the SMRT train network. Poets such as Gilbert Koh (aka blogger Mr Wang Says So), Chia Hwee Pheng, Liang Yue, Rasiah Halil, Grace Chua and KTM Iqbal will read their featured poems.

The Proletariat Poetry Factory will provide poetry-on-demand for passing commuters using typewriters as a medium with accompanying local 3-piece Jazz band – The Reflections, entertaining the crowd.

Plus, we'll have the Moving Words Poetry Competition will also officially open for entries. The first 20 people to submit their poems for the Competition at the launch will receive a Books Actually voucher worth $20.

Here's some info on the competition:

We invite all aspiring poets, young and old, to participate in an open Moving Words Poetry Competition. This is a great opportunity for budding poets to showcase their poems, in any of the four languages, on a national platform – the SMRT train network!
Call for submissions for the Moving Words Poetry Competition. This competition is open to all Singapore citizens and Permanent Residents. The competition period is 21st May to 15th July 2011. The 12 best entries will be shortlisted by a panel of judges for display on the SMRT train network from August to October 2011. The public will then get to vote for their favourite entry and the public’s votes will decide the winning poem. The winner receives a brand new iPad2 and there will be two consolation prizes of Books Actually vouchers worth $200. Voters also stand a chance to win attractive prizes like the iPod Touch and Books Actually vouchers. Details about the competition can be found at .
The 12 best entries will also be published in the Moving Words Anthology together with the works of established Singaporean poets, and launched in October at the Singapore Writers Festival 2011, Singapore’s largest literary event.

The website is - it'll be live later today!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I'm acting in a show in the Singapore Arts Festival.

Technically, it's part of Flipside, though.

It's a 10-minute play called "The Tent" by Wee Lilin, to be performed as part of Tisch Asia's "Love and Other Disasters" on Wednesday 18 and Thursday 19 May, 7:15pm and 8:15pm at the Esplanade Concourse.

Come come! It's free entry. Facebook page here:

The Esplanade and The Department of Dramatic Writing at Tisch Asia team up to bring you two nights of short plays about love, loss, and zombies.

Performing on the Concourse Stage, Tisch Asia writers will be showcasing some of the most popular plays from the past two years.

This is a free event, and is part of the Flip Side, the Esplanade's companion event to the Singapore Arts Festival.

Featuring plays by Josh Billig, Adeline Food, Lou-Lou Igbokwe, John Marsh, and Wee Li Lin.

Direction by Maxim Dashkin, Drayton Hiers, Dean Lundquist, and Wee Li Lin.

And starring Michael Chua, Tim Garner, Sophie Khoo, Bill Kovacsik, Jacqueline Landsman, Ng Yi-Sheng, Glory Ngim, Adeline Pang, and Erik Wayne.

With Philip Leung as the Emcee.

TWO SHOWS NIGHTLY: May 18 & 19 at 7:15 and 8:15. Each performance is the same set.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Some tweets from Adrianna Tan

I was at the SDP party at Quality Hotel the night of polling day, so of course I was mega-bummed that we didn't get a single seat (though our voter share rose to 36%, a real improvement over the 2006 average of 23%). We celebrated when we heard how WP has a GRC and an SMC, but we really needed to give PAP a stronger message than that.

Adrianna Tan, famed blogger of and media advisor for NSP, must also have been bummed. Still, she could be proud that they gave Goh Chok Tong's Marine Parade GRC a jolly good shelling.

And it felt good this afternoon to read her last series of late-night tweets at @skinnylatte:

"I feel like I'm going to sleep to a brand new SG. 2016 and beyond will see our future in more colours than white. I for one cannot wait.

Whatever happened or didn't happened these elections, we eroded their share, and showed them they cannot rule with the mandate of heaven.

We've gained and lost so much as an opposition, but that's politics.

I've seen opposition unity, I've seen talented young people working 24/7, I've seen old guards demonstrate astute political judgement;

I've worked with a dedicated volunteer corps from all walks of life; renewed our love for this nation.

If it's taught us all anything, it's that they aren't infallible, they cannot be given more chances, and we have to get better by 2016.

I've spent the last few hours talking to beloved friends who are in London, NYC and DC — each of them plotting their political futures.

People care, and care greatly. Have never felt more Singaporean than when I walked to the stadium in my Singapore Die Hard Fan Jersey.

I don't think the PAP achieved what they set out to do: to determine our next generation of leaders.

They ran such a bizarre, incoherent campaign, that if they were any lesser as a party it would have splintered all over their faces.

If you watched their campaign carefully, it had all the red flags of a succession struggle and internal bickering.

I think, and I hope, we'll have one more PM in white. And then let's close off this dynasty."

Inspiring words indeed. Thanks Adri! And good luck to us all for the next five years.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Why I'm volunteering with SDP.

I've realised, somewhat to my embarrassment, that I'm actually a bit of a political centrist when it comes to Singapore politics. I'm from a (very) upper middle-class background, and as such I really haven't suffered a lot directly from the PAP's policies. I also think the party's done a good job of guiding us through the economic crisis - we've barely suffered, compared to most developed nations, from Japan to the US to the EU member states.

I'm also occasionally wary of SDP policies and rhetoric - the party feeds off the growing resentment of foreign immigrants in Singapore, and I think that's dangerous. Immigration may be a bad idea, but it's important to guard against an irrational hatred of all people of one class or race. (And yes, the new PRC immigrants can be seen as a different race from Singaporean Chinese. Race is a fluid concept, and depends on customs and group affiliations as much as skin colour and language.) There's also a manic tone to their website articles that makes me uncomfortable.

Still, I knew in these elections I had to support the SDP. This is why I've been volunteering with them: selling papers at rallies and signing up as a polling and counting agent. Here's why I'm doing this:

1) SDP believes in human rights.

No other opposition party sticks up for human rights as much as SDP. Their leaders and members protest against the death penalty, against Singapore's economic ties with with the Myanmar military junta and the Internal Security Act.

This is of special interest to me, because I'm gay. The SDP was the first political party to formally call for the end of Section 377A, our male-male sodomy law, on the grounds that it's discriminatory, way back in 2006. Dr Chee Soon Juan's a committed Christian, but that doesn't interfere with his belief in basic human equality and decency.

All this isn't empty talk, either. The party puts its money where its mouth is. The candidates this year include the openly gay social worker Vincent Wijeysingha and the former political detainees Teo Soh Lung and James Gomez. (Gomez was detained briefly in 2006, following his campaign for the Workers' Party).

We don't just need opposition candidates to suggest new solutions; we need them to speak up in parliament as the moral conscience of the nation. SDP is one party that cares less about political expediency than if something's right or wrong.

2) SDP gets persecuted.

My sympathy tends to be with the underdogs. And because SDP speaks up, it tends to get hammered. Its members have been sued and detained by the government countless times for exercising their right to free speech.

This is how I got to know the central party members, actually. I turned up at court to support my artist friends who'd been charged with SDP members for illegal assembly, and for contempt of court - they'd worn kangaroo T-shirts to protest the "kangaroo courts" of Lee Kuan Yew's defamation lawsuits. I've seen Chee Soon Juan and Gandhi Ambalam forced to attend court in shackles, and I've seen public prosecutors stammering at how to twist evidence against the party, even when the defendants have demonstrated the flaws in these unjust laws that should disqualify the cases on technical grounds.

All this is in the past five years, mind you. Those of you older than me will remember the PAP's vendetta against Chee Soon Juan that reduced him to bankruptcy.

The persecution's still going on this election, in a muted form. I'll forgive Vivian Balakrishnan for exposing Wijeysingha as gay - yes, it's a personal matter, but any pretty much any politician with this information would have used it to his advantage. What I won't forgive is his linking the orientation to pedophilia and his invocation of a "gay agenda" - an insidious term that suggests that a gay politician must have a hidden agenda to overthrow moral order, rather than simply wanting to a chance to govern.

Then there's the whole New Paper story claiming that Dr Chee was starting a protest march in Sembawang. I know it's a tabloid paper, but that was seriously low.

3) The SDP came to me.

That's my last reason. I might've just been an enthusiastic guy cheering on speakers at party rallies, but then lo and behold: SDP actually decided to contest my constituency, Holland-Bukit Timah. Plus they brought in a star team: Vincent Wijey, Michelle Lee, Dr Ang Yong Guan and Tan Jee Say - all excellent speakers, and from very different backgrounds, which the PAP might call "strange bedfellows" but which I call inclusivity.

As one of the more upper-income GRCs, we've been long dismissed as a lost cause for opposition parties - rich folks must be too comfortable with the status quo, surely, to want some change. I'd despaired of ever being able to vote unless I got myself a full-time job and moved out of my parents' home.

But they came to us. And as a first-time voter, I'm really grateful for that.

I think a lot of us who've been deprived of voting feel the same way. We feel like the PAP's cheated us of the right to exercise our democratic rights. Now it's the first time we can actually exercise those voting muscles, and we're sure as hell going to flex them in the direction of freedom.

This is something we've got to thank all the opposition parties for, regardless of how much or how little we may respect their speakers. They've come up and made a lot of us feel like a genuine democracy for the first time in our lives.

Truth is, I'm not optimistic for our chances. After the disappointment of the 2006 elections, I feel like it'd take a miracle for the opposition to even claim a single GRC.

But SDP, WP, NSP and SDA have given us hope. And for that solace, I thank them, and pledge to get off my ass more to help them out.

Monday, May 02, 2011

A pretty moving note on the elections

I'm volunteering for SDP this year, but I really wanted to share this note I got this morning on the Arts Community e-group (names withheld).

Dedicated to Chiam See Tong and all Singaporeans*

In this General Election, I may appear to some people as a kind of political whore. My best friend and I were running all over the island to attend the nominations and rallies. We have not stopped thinking about Singapore (some of you may dismiss it as "politics") since the nomination day, even in our sleeps, and I know that we are not alone. I have many friends who are doing the same, and those who don't run around like a getai star are always faithfully at the computer feeding us up-to-date information like the statellite (you know who you are :)).

It is as if the elections have consumed our lives, but I would like to see it that we are all woken up, and realised that if we do not actively participate and claim our narratives, there is no doubt that the ruling party will literally consume all of us.

I have been planning to write a piece on the six reasons why I cannot allow PAP to hold absolute power in parliament, but after attending tonight's rally at Potong Pasir, I can't help myself but to write about how Mr. Chiam See Tong have touched and enlightened me.

I attended two rallies prior to this: SDP and WP rally at commonwealth and serangoon respectively. I was very impressed by the "Winning-11" team that the SDP has garnered as each of them respresented to me a distinct and genuine interest in the "software" (to quote Dr.Ang) of the society - teacher, social worker, ex-political detainee, psychiatrist... I am convinced that they will take care of the less priviledged in the society, and they have promised to give half their allowance to the needy in the community if they were to be elected. Over at WP rally, although I was not particularly impressed by what the candidates had said, the number of people who were there to listen was intoxicating and certainly, WP will be a great catalyst for change in the parliament.

However, after two rallies, I felt I had a bit enough of the PAP bashing. The attack of the lack of accountability and problems of PAP is of course, very relevant and necessary (I am still going around with "vote opposition" statements pasted on my back) but personally I think I am clear enough about the atrocities of the ruling party: What PAP propagates is basically a selfish, self-preserving culture. All the bad policies and tactics they have devised is a result of this warped immoral thinking, and definitely, it is poisoning the society inside out. I had enough of it, yes, I am fed up! And so I really wanted to know what are the dreams of the opposition parties. I wanted to know how they think about human life. I wanted to know how they can lead Singaporeans to feel beautiful again. Is there someone who can wake up the sleeping flowers in our hearts?

I found the answer in Mr. Chiam See Tong today at SPP rally.

Mr.Chiam began his speech with the question of why he decided to leave Potong Pasir and contest in Bishan-Toa Payoh. He answered, "for the promotion of democracy. There can never be democracy if there is no opposition in the parliament." There isn't a fancy slogan like first-world parliament, which at times really makes one wonder what it means. Mr.Chiam's
fight is for democracy, and he will never retire with a peaceful mind if he does not see this happening in Singapore. This is the reason why he has to break a GRC, the dirtiest divide-and-rule tactic the ruling party has devised since JBJ won a seat in Anson.

Do I doubt Mr.Chiam's fight? There is very little room for doubt when you see him in person: frail in physique, strong as steel in the mind, and gentle as a whispering father in his speech. There is almost no room for doubt when you think about how he and Mrs.Chiam have suffered under the government's brutality (he still doesn't have his own office) trying to
serve the residents in Potong Pasir the best that they can. And there is absolutely no room for doubt when you continue listening till the end of his speech, because he values every individual as a human being capable of living her or her life to the fullest, and is not just a pawn or a statistics.

I will describe to you my memory of the conclusion of his speech, which took place after quite a long pause. I imagined that his team was worried it would be too tiring for him to continue, but he insisted to carry on.

Like a grandfather telling a story to his grandchildren, Mr.Chiam told us how Lee Kuan Yew first assessed this man called Chiam See Tong. LKY looked at his O level certificate. (laughter from the crowd)

"He counted very carefully. 1. 2. 3...5. Only 5 O levels?" (another round of laughter)

"How many of you have 5 O level?"

My best friend shouted "I don't have any!" as several in the crowd raised their hands.

Mr.Chiam smiled in his heart (I could feel) and replied,

"Then you and I are the same. And I have become a lawyer now."

At this point, the crowd cheered so loudly that a friend who was sleeping on the other side of the estate was woken up by the uproar. After a round of hearty laughter, the crowd fell silent as Mr.Chiam continued speaking (he apologised in the beginning that we have to be very quiet because he couldn't speak loudly). He told us that it is o.k if we are not as smart as the others, and it is o.k if we do not seem as successful as the others. Some of us maybe late bloomers, but all of us have the potential to be better people, as long as we stay true to ourselves and keep trying.

"When there is life there is hope, when there is hope, there will be change."

I will always remember how effortlessly he had delivered that line and how many people were moved to tears while listening to him speak. Besides the immediate reference that despite two strokes, Mr.Chiam continue his fight for change in Singapore, I believe that these tears are also the most heartfelt human emotions that can only be brought out by the encouragement of a most loving father.

It is okay. It is okay.
You have not failed.
I have not failed.
We have not failed.

Just keep trying, my child,
together, let's keep trying.

With each living breath,
We can be better.
We will be better.

Thank you Mr. Chiam See Tong. I was in such a despair after reading and witnessing so much atrocities and brutality that the ruling party and Lee Kuan Yew have done to gentle people like you, Dr. Vincent Cheng, Ms Teo Suh Lung, Dr. Lim Hock Siew and many more people who have been forever silenced in the PAP version of history. I was in such a despair thinking how Singaporeans will disappear with the influx of yet another 1 million foreigners. I was in such a despair thinking how our children will have to grow up in this self-perserving culture that propagates bottomless fear and arrogance thinking about nothing but Money. But tonight, you have shown me, shown all Singaporeans, the light. And I am not angry and upset anymore.

Singaporeans. This election has nothing to do with GRCs. It is time to stop all these ongoing, useless debates and arguments that the ruling party wants to confuse you with. It is time to stop all the hype about Tin Pei Ling Vs Nicole Seah, Worker's Party conspiracy, Mas Selamat, upgrading lifts, grow and share etc.

This election is, with no doubt, about the past, the present, and the future of Singapore. It is about how PAP has completely crippled our rights to claim the power of our narratives as a living community and worthy individuals. It is about how they do whatever they want without a single question asked or answered. It is about how we, the citizens of Singapore, want the stories of our forefathers and mothers to be remembered and told; It is about how we, the citizens of Singapore, want to write our story from now; It is about how our children, the future citizens of Singapore, can be the writers of their stories without fear.

Ultimately, it is about trying to achieve democracy and equality in Singapore, as long as we have one more living breath.


Singapore is not PAP.

I love Singapore very much, but not the PAP.

Please, please don't let them bully and silent us anymore.












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Sunday, May 01, 2011

April texts

+Jennifer Crawford’s “Napoleon Swings”

=João Guimarães Rosa’s “The Devil to Pay in the Backlands”
+Edmundo Paz Soldán’s “The Matter of Desire”
+Silvina Ocampo’s “Autobiografía de Irene”
+H.P. Lovecraft’s “At the Mountains of Madness”

+Nestor Amarilla’s “Saved by a Poem”

+Augusto Boal’s “Theatre of the Oppressed”
=José Enrique Rodó’s “Ariel

+Jaromil Jires’s “Valerie and Her Week of Wonders”
Liao Jiekai’s “Red Dragonflies”

+The Necessary Stage’s “Singapore” [preview]
=Cake Theatre’s “Desire and the Melancholic String Quartet”
Toy Factory’s “881”
+Singapore Arts Festival’s “Open Studio: A Language of Their Own”
=Singapore Repertory Theatre’s “Macbeth”

+CERIPH X Substation's "Synaesthesia"
+Singapore Art Museum’s “Notable Acquisitions: Featuring Works by Tan Oe Pang”
=Rofizano Zaino's "Fragments of My Identity"
+House of Matahati’s “The X Residence”