2017 has been a hell of a ride. From the Presidential Election (or lack thereof) to the solar eclipse, we have had the honour of experiencing a number of monumental events. As we await the dawn of the new year and new unfulfilled resolutions, here is a recap of the five most Singaporean things to happen in 2017 that will leave you weeping the dirge of Majulah Singapura.
Train delays, breakdowns, flooding, a “small fire”, collision, even a lightning strike—it was as if SMRT was doomed to spiral into a catastrophe of epic proportions. Someone obviously was so triggered by these slews of incidents that they had diligently maintained a Wikipedia page detailing all of Singapore’s MRT Disruption. We have also seen netizens savagely rip apart and call for the resignation of Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan and SMRT CEO Desmond Quek, but what transpired were the firing of low-level employees and denial of responsibility as the duo pushed the blame onto SMRT’s workforce culture.
Countless netizens have cited the Japanese railway companies’ humility and obsession with detail as one that SMRT should strive towards. Case in point: When crack in the Shinkansen was detected, their management immediately reported and sought to rectify it before any major catastrophe could occur. In a separate event, Tsukaba Express line’s management sincerely apologised for departing 20 second early. SMRT, on the other hand, remained conspicuously silent for the most part while their trains, quite literally, crashed and burned.
2.Pokemon GO: Return on the fad
Just as we thought that we would be able to usher Pokemon GO into obscurity by end-2016, they are making a comeback with a vengeance, courtesy of our parents. It’s not rare to see a huge congregation of middle-aged dads—especially—hovering around void decks and parks as they swipe with hysterical frenzy on their phones to capture that Level 143 Snorlax, or the occasional Level 297 Hariyama, they specifically drove over 10 minutes for. It’s no wonder “Sgpokemap”, a real-time map plotting out locations for some of the rarest Pokémons in Singapore, became Google’s top trending search in Singapore for 2017. Some overzealous parents have even formed neighbourhood Whatsapp group chats to share sightings of high levelled Pokémons not reflected in Sgpokemap.
It’s a running joke that Singaporeans will literally queue for anything, and 2017 can bear testament to it. When Gong Cha left, everybody wanted to get their last fix of the Taiwanese bubble tea, regardless of how long they have to stand in line for. Some fans, delirious with excitement, even took half-day off work to queue for the magical tea elixir when Gong Cha returned to Singapore in December.
Other contenders for the most dizzying long queue experiences include Ah Mah Sponge Cake’s, Don Don Donki’s and Pablo Cheese Tart’s opening, McDonald’s Hello Kitty plushies, Ilao Ilao’s closure (which could see new queues at its reopening), every Kpop fan meeting ever, and the launch of iPhone 8 and iPhone X. It is at least heartening to see that most Singaporeans are gracious enough to respect the ethics of queueing, so we are spared conflicts of the American Black Friday stampede proportions.
4.Abuse of bike rides
The bicycle-sharing economy has been on an upward trajectory since its introduction but, more than anything, it has since put into the spotlight our downhill social ethics. We have seen anti-social behaviours where users of ofo bicycles claimed these bicycles as their own by chaining them up in private residences. OBikes and Mobikes, too, have been customised in the name of art or assertion of control. Robbed of baskets, handlebars, headlights and seats, repainted, thrown in canals and hurled down a multi-storey carpark, there is no end to the creativity of Singaporeans in abusing these share-bicycles.
These perpetrators failed to understand that while the rides are free, the bicycles themselves are not—not that it matters, because which sane human being would abuse their own properties so out of proportion? Left unrectified, our misplaced sense of entitlement will rob us of any confidence in the share economy and we can bid adieu to ever getting anything for free again.
Over the course of 2017, many iconic buildings and public spaces have been slated to come face-to-face with the wrecking ball. Four vibrantly-coloured Rochor Centre buildings will be demolished to make way for a North-South Expressway. The last of its residents have moved out, along with residents of the 17 “seven-story houses” in Dakota Crescent. Those living in the 191 private terraces along Lorong 3 Geylang will, as they reach the end of their lease in 2020 with no possibility of renewal, soon follow in returning the leasehold land to the state so they can be developed into public housing.
While there is no denying the imperative to upgrade mature neighbourhoods to accommodate our burgeoning population and scarce land resource, it is still a shame that the balance is so blatantly tipped in favour of practicality over sentimentality, especially since some of these properties, like those in Dakota and Geylang, are older than “Singapore” itself.
by Jessica Tan