A visit to the Asian Civilisations Museum for the Raffles exhibition

I saw these ads last Thursday, and recalled reading about how there is to be an exhibition of Sir Stamford Raffles, regarded as the founder of modern Singapore, as part of the Singapore Bicentennial which marks the 200th anniversary of his arrival in Singapore. The eyebrow-raising posters reminded me that the exhibition was to showcase ‘another side of Raffles’, one different and less flattering than the usual narrative we learned about in school.

IMG_20190330_211416_2

But why, though? I don’t understand holding an exhibition on somebody considered a giant in Singapore’s history just to slag him off? Okay maybe not to slag him off but to point out shit he’s done, along with the good, and as the poster says, for us to make up our own mind about things he did, 200 years ago. But why hold an exhibition just to do that? Is he, and for what reason, suddenly on trial in the court of public opinion suddenly after 200 years?

Is it something to do with, or inspired by, the white supremacy or white privilege discussions going on in western countries that are on trend for some time now? They are long overdue and I’m glad they are talked about now, and I hope it’s not just talk but will lead to actual equality for the ordinary regular folk of the world, as vague as that sounds. For better or worse I don’t follow them, though. Not ‘woke’ enough and too busy and blissfully ignorant being sheep I guess, working to earn a living and worrying about my future and living my life simply (working hard. Treating others how I expect them to treat me, with kindness and respect. Ignoring and avoiding assholes and other toxic people. Simple things like that.)

I’m not for or against Raffles but just curious about the point of the exhibition. It’s not like anyone among the public worship him or particularly care about him and put him on a pedestal. Well yes, but just a statue, like any country’s more noted historical figures.

Not to disrespect the dead but I think for most of us he’s just a name in history textbooks, and on some touristy places and things. Do members of the public take history all that seriously, anyway? I don’t think so. I certainly don’t. I think most of us know that history is written according to the writer, the victor, the ruler. So yeah, while partaking in the subject, it’s “wow that’s interesting… so fascinating…“, but once I’m done reading, it’s ‘ok, whatever‘. Back to other things.

I wonder if museums in, say, England hold similar exhibitions for, say, Winston Churchill where they present the bad things he is said to have done along with the good. I have read about some seriously appalling things Churchill had allegedly done, this man said to be regarded by many there as the greatest Briton ever.

I think I’m just annoyed mostly because the posters worked on me. Just two days later on my first day off from work, I went to the venue, the Asian Civilisations Museum. This was yesterday.

THE NEOCLASSICAL BUILDING

I’m so glad I went. It’s such a beautiful building and the museum inside is very well done. I found it very interesting and am now keen to make time to visit our other museums.

IMG_20190330_110309_600x450

Coming from Raffles Place MRT station, I could soon see the museum which was located on the north bank of the Singapore River. Many times I have crossed Cavenagh Bridge and walked past the beauty, and finally I was going inside. I don’t remember when was the last time, if ever, I had gone in.

IMG_20190330_110600_600X450

Previously the Empress Place Building, it was completed in 1867. Originally planned to be used as a courthouse, it housed instead government offices until the late 1980s. It was gazetted as a national monument in 1992.

I haven’t visited a museum in years, and the more recent visits were all on holidays overseas, like to Italy or Thailand. Well, last December I did pop into the National Museum here for a couple of hours but that was for a specific and small exhibition organised by the Embassy of Italy. I did not take the time to explore the rest of the museum after that.

When tourist friends and acquaintances visited Singapore, none so far had wanted to visit museums and for many years neither did I think to suggest it to them. I think that was due to me bringing an Italian former friend to a museum here a long time ago, with such pride because I love our National Museum, but the rude bugger was snickering and rolling his eyes at a lot of the stuff we consider old here. That was probably 20 years ago but his assholic behavior probably traumatised me or something because no more museum suggestions to tourist friends since then.

EXPENSIVE

I think I read some years ago that our museums are now free for Singaporeans and permanent residents. I must be mistaken. Imagine my surprise when I was asked to pay S$12 for the exhibition, and my partner Bert who was with me and who is neither Singaporean nor a permanent resident, was to pay S$20. Fortunately the kind lady at the reception, seeing our hesitance, gave us a tip that between 1pm and 5pm there would be a flat rate of $5 for each of us, a special promotion for that day. So we decided to come back a while later for that discount. In the meantime we took a stroll around the beautiful historical area which turned out to be such a pleasure, being a Saturday near the business district area. Very few people around and therefore very pleasant.

IMG_20190330_110714_600x450

Check out the prices for the exhibition without discounts above. Both Bert and I are working adults with no kids to support and we already balk at the prices. Firstly, how the heck are locals, especially from low-income groups, supposed to be interested to explore our museums when the entrance fee of particular exhibitions are expensive. I myself was drawn to visit one after many years only because of that particular Raffles exhibition. If one is prejudiced enough to say that low-income folks are not interested in museums and other cultural stuff anyway because we are not educated enough, well the high entry fee would dissuade even those with interest to visit.

And what about low-wage foreign workers like our hundreds of thousands of domestic helpers and construction workers. Why can’t we share our museums with them, by having the museums promoted to them and made accessible to them with free entry or a small token fee of a couple of dollars. These people help to build our country, too. Anyone from any economic background, let alone the poor, would appreciate affordable places to visit when off from work, whether they are interested in art or culture in the first place or not, when forced to work in a foreign land just to send money home to families because there is no work in their home country.

And secondly, I remember visiting the Vatican Museums in Rome, which are MASSIVE!, as in MASSIVELY HUGE!, and just about some of the most important and most revered museums IN THE WORLD, for obvious reasons. How much do they charge? According to their Prices and Tickets page, €17.00 for the whole museum complex and the Sistine Chapel, which is like Singapore $26.00. Compare that to the Singapore $20.00 for the Asian Civilisations Museum here for foreigners’ entry. It’s very expensive.

EXHIBITION: “REVISITING THE SCHOLAR AND STATESMAN, RAFFLES IN SOUTHEAST ASIA”

IMG_20190330_234952_600x600

A portrait of Sir Stamford Raffles greeted the visitor at the entrance of the exhibition. He was 36 when he sat for this portrait in 1817 at the end of his governorship in Java. He was born on 6 July 1781, off the coast of Jamaica on board a ship under the command of his father Benjamin Raffles. At 14 he became a clerk of the East India Company in London, and in 1805 at the age of 24 he was posted to Penang to serve as assistant-secretary.

If you have any interest to learn about the guy, two sites to start with that have short basic summaries of a page each are Encyclopedia.com  and Britannica.com.

The exhibition, which has been running since 1st February and lasts till 28 April, is in collaboration with the British Museum in London. It consists mostly of Javanese and Sumatran objects he personally collected.

The ‘less flattering’ bits highlighted about Raffles vary in severity. For example, at the beginning at his portrait, the guided tour I was on talked about how a sculpture had been painted differently (the actual sculpture the depiction was based on was featured beside the painting), for example, the position of its left arm was different, and so ‘artistic license’ had been taken. That made me go, ‘Huh?‘. Even today when it comes to artistic license, it is taken liberally, like when films based on books are made. Some purists of the book may get angry, and then discussions on the alleged transgressions may be had. So to me it seems like such a stretch to highlight the painting of the statue. UNLESS of course, if according to the religion, Buddhist statues MUST strictly be represented only in a certain way, and the artist failed to do so, then yes I would agree it was wrong.

IMG_20190331_143931_600x600

A seriously shocking and horrifying thing Raffles had done that I took away with me from the exhibition was when the British invaded Java in 1811.

Reading more about it when I got home, I came across a review of a book called ‘Raffles and the British Invasion of Java’ by Tim Hannigan which included how the British army of 10,000 redcoats and Indian sepoys conquered the Dutch colony.

…They would remain there for five turbulent years. (The) history-cum-biography explores the bloody battles and furious controversies that marked British rule in Java, and reveals the future founder of Singapore, Thomas Stamford Raffles – long celebrated as a hero, a liberal and a visionary – in a shocking new light, showing how he crushed dissent, looted palaces and incited massacres to further his own insatiable ambitions. The book features the dramatic Battle of Batavia, the sinister British expedition to Palembang, the 1812 sacking and looting of Yogyakarta, and various fights between soldiers and civilians, buffaloes and tigers, and Englishmen and Javanese.

Yep, definitely didn’t know that about the guy.

A review of the same book from Toko Buku also said that it:

tells the story of how the British attempted to bring the full force of European colonialism to a tropical island where Muslim sultans claimed descent from Hindu gods.

…Major histories only give the period a few paragraphs at most.

The whole book starts out with the assertion, often heard even by educated Indonesians, that they would’ve been better off if they had been colonized by the British and not the Dutch. …(It) reveals Raffles – long celebrated as a hero, a liberal and a visionary, ‘the last colonialist it’s OK to like’ –in a shocking new light. Indeed, Raffles made for a very strange sort of hero.

This history features the dramatic Battle of Batavia, the sinister British expedition to Palembang, a series of bloody battles between soldiers and civilians, fights between Englishmen and Javanese and a gut-wrenching duel between a buffalo and tiger. The crux of the literary narrative is the clash and deep irreconcilable abyss between nascent European colonialism and the old courtly culture of Java. In an effort to impress the people of Java with the might of British power, Raffles attacked, wrecked, cowed and humiliated Java’s most powerful and influential native court.

Not only did the British break the power of the venerable Javanese kraton, but introduced opium to Java on a large scale, entrenched the position of Chinese middlemen, set up a strong sense of racial separation between the rulers and their subjects and created the concept of extracting maximum agricultural wealth from the island. One of the most enduring myths about Raffles during the strange half-decade that he spent on Java was that he hated slavery. Actually, the man was not an abolitionist and allowed the trade of slaves under the age of 14 and even kept 77 slaves in his own home.

GUIDED TOUR

I was on a guided tour with another 15 or so visitors. It lasted an hour and I thoroughly enjoyed it (and not because it was free-of-charge, haha). From now on when I visit other museums and galleries I will try to time visits to guided tours, if details are available online. The tour I had here was wonderful because my volunteer guide was good and engaging. She wasn’t just rattling off facts in a monotone, but it was more like friendly banter, more like sharing juicy gossipy tidbits with a group of friends. It was fun (despite being distracted by noisy kids at some points) and made the exhibits she touched on come alive a bit, and far more interesting when reading and squinting at their captions in tiny letters later after the tour had ended.

I’m sorry I didn’t catch my guide’s name. I wish I did. She was a middle-aged Chinese lady. My tour was the 1.30 pm one yesterday, Saturday the 30th.

SOME PHOTOS

To close off this post, here are some photos from the exhibition. Sorry some of the text aren’t clear. I’m just terrible with photography, with any camera but especially with phone cameras.

 

Related:

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Cappuccino Shoes

I noticed this guy and liked how well put together, yet still comfortably casual he looks. I’m normally running around in t-shirt and jeans or cargo bermudas. This outfit he’s wearing looks good and something I can see myself in the next time I feel like putting in a bit more effort.

DSCN2373_reduced

The jeans would have to be looser than that, though. I don’t have his slender build so I can’t carry off that skinny jeans look, but even if I can I wouldn’t want too. Actually the fit here looks okay, unlike some skinny jeans I’ve seen that look like they’re really strangling the legs and balls of the wearer. The fit here looks comfy for this guy. But personally I just prefer something roomier.

And while cuffed hems like that are still trendy and I admit they look creative and fun, personally it’s just still not my thing.

But I do like his colour coordination especially that lovely green of his shirt, and how nicely and neatly his sleeves are rolled up.

And I really like his messenger bag, nicely classic and a tad rugged, in materials like leather and canvas. I’m glad it’s not a tote bag, which I still see on some trendy guys. I’ve always thought that men don’t look good carrying tote bags. I don’t care how accepted they are for men. Heck, even for young women I don’t think they look good. There is just something about those huge bags that says ‘auntie‘ to me. Aunties who are sensible and feel the need to carry a lot of stuff in their bags, like umbrellas, water bottles, maybe fruit and a sandwich, Tiger Balm or Vicks VapoRub or some other rubbing oils for headaches and joint pain, sweets and other candy for coughs or sore throat or to give as a treat to grandkids or neighbour’s kids. All those things and then some. And maybe to have extra room to squeeze in even more stuff like groceries should they decide to stop at the stores.

Saving the best for last… those shoes he’s wearing. I think they are what that brings a sparkle to his outfit. And not just because they look clean and well shined.

I love them. I want them.DSCN2373_shoes

I don’t believe I’ve ever bought shoes in that particular brown, which there and then I decided to call ‘cappuccino’. I don’t need new shoes possibly for some years, because the pairs I have are all in good condition. But the next pair I buy shall be in that style and colour.

tumblr_mi653inhmB1r0khnmo1_1280

They’re called wing tips or something. Image from the tumblr site The Dapper Gentleman, first seen via The Sharp Taste. Click image to go to the latter.

Related:

***

Day 24 of ‘100 Happy Days‘.

Happy meter: wistfully admiring beautiful shoes.

Hamed Sinno

Hamed Sinno screen-shot-2013-08-02-at-12-28-15-am

Image from Raynbow Blog. Click to go there.

Hamed Sinno is the 25-year-old Lebanese lead singer of the Beirut-based band Mashrou’ Leila. Openly gay and goodlooking, Hamed is a charismatic singer whose handsome face and moustache have gotten him compared to the late great Freddie Mercury. Sex appeal-wise, I think Hamed is also touched with an elfin quality which renders him not just sexy but cute too.

His voice is incredibly sexy and is perfect for the songs he and the rest of his band produce. I just came across them recently and have not heard all their songs yet, but the ones I’ve heard so far are dreamily sensuous and touching. Like this one in the video below, Imm El Jacket إم الجاكيت (The Girl with the Jacket). Click here for a translation of the lyrics.

Noha El-Khatib wrote in an interview article for Discord Magazine that he first met Hamed in 2006 when the singer was a freshman at the American University of Beirut. He described Hamed as:

…an intellectually rebellious art student whose presence never went unnoticed, thanks to his ostentatious jokes, inappropriately sharp commentary, and beautiful voice that fetched many admirers before he even performed in public. Sometimes his impromptu lyrics were about sour or taboo topics like child molestation, homosexuality, and violence. Being exposed to his bluntness and volume, however, convinced most of the onlookers to think that he was confident, sexually ambiguous, outgoing, and unfazed by social expectations. Most of that was not true. He was shy, apologetic, struggling through social turbulence, and anxious for knowledge and peace of mind.

Hamed Sinno tumblr_mv6k4nm8xl1rdapy9o1_400

From the tumblr blog mashrou3leilafans. Click to go there.

Related:

Hamed Sinno tumblr_mtmpux7Ete1rdapy9o1_400

From the tumblr blog mashrou3leilafans. Click to go there.

Jack Andraka

jack andraka tumblr_mpezp2WhxW1s40uj8o1_500

Image from the tumblr blog Faith In Humanity Restored. Click to go there.

Reading about 16-year-old American Jack Andraka, the scientist who developed an early-detection test for pancreatic cancer, and what he has achieved through curiosity, determination and hard work is powerful stuff. I first came to know about him from the Facebook page of Pink Dot SG a few days ago, when I read about him being honoured by the Pope with an award in Rome. The International Giuseppe Sciacca Award, which is given to young adults the Vatican considers to be positive role models.

A few years ago when Jack was 13, a close family friend passed away from pancreatic cancer, and Jack felt compelled to learn more about the disease. He went online to find answers, and was shocked to learn that over 85% of pancreatic cancer patients were diagnosed late, and that the current tests used for this are terribly outdated and more than 60 years old. Not to mention prohibitively expensive at US$800 per test, and inaccurate, missing 30% of all pancreatic cancer.

If I watch only one video a year, that’s fine as long it has the same significance of Jack’s TED talk below. I felt impressed and hopeful for the future, yes, if more young people are like him. But also scared and angry about the current state of testing for pancreatic cancer. If people in so-called First World countries who have the means to pay for their medical tests and treatments can still be so screwed, what hope is there for the rest of us?

The Advocate.com article also mentioned that Jack is “in negotiations with a couple of biotech firms to refine and market the test, which would likely be available to the public in five to 10 years.” I hope that it will still be affordable and accessible to everyone by the time it does reach the market.

From his bio page at Ted.com:

After Andraka’s proposal to build and test his idea for a pancreatic cancer detector was rejected from 199 labs, the teen landed at Johns Hopkins. There, he built his device using inexpensive strips of filter paper, carbon nanotubes and antibodies sensitive to mesothelin, a protein found in high levels in people with pancreatic cancer. When dipped in blood or urine, the mesothelin adheres to these antibodies and is detectable by predictable changes in the nanotubes’ electrical conductivity.

In preliminary tests, Andraka’s invention has shown 100 percent accuracy. It also finds cancers earlier than current methods, costs a mere 3 cents and earned the high schooler the 2012 Intel Science Fair grand prize.

And according to Wikipedia:

Jack has been openly gay since he was 13,and discussed that in interviews with The New Civil Rights Movement,the London Evening Standard,and Washington’s MetroWeekly,among others. When asked to be interviewed about his sexual orientation, Jack responded, “That sounds awesome! I’m openly gay and one of my biggest hopes is that I can help inspire other LGBT youth to get involved in STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics]. I didn’t have many [gay] role models [in science] besides Alan Turing.”

Related:

Thug Notes. Summary and Analysis of Classic Literature.

tumblr_mtnnfzYI6w1qc6gheo2_500

Image from sektumsempra.tumbr.com. Click to go there.

I absolutely love the Thug Notes video series which I was introduced to by Tastefully Offensive. Here’s the latest, for Macbeth, which I first read and loved a quarter of a century ago in school.

The first time I saw Sparky Sweets, PhD, I think it was the video for Moby Dick. My laugh at the novelty of a thug-like guy explaining classic literature quickly died down and turned to rapt attention as I realised he was really sharing a serious summary of the book, albeit in a non-classical way.

His videos serve as such a fascinating and fun introduction to many titles in classic literature. For anyone, not just students. Certainly did for me. Unless of course one is worried for spoilers. Personally I don’t care because I don’t usually remember them by the time I pick up the book. So yeah, I’m interested in tackling Moby Dick sometime. I used to think of it as “Eww, some guys going whale hunting? Sounds boring.” Sparky drummed up my interest real good and made it something I’d want to pick up and read.

Related:

tumblr_mtnnfzYI6w1qc6gheo1_500

Image from sektumsempra.tumblr.com. Click to go there.

Manly hobbies for men

funny-George-Lucas-man-knitting

Image from The Meta Picture. Click to go there. First seen via Pinterest of Ms. Tracy McDonald.

Manly hobbies as listed by Mr. Brian Cornwell in nextluxury.com. Seventy-five of them, to boot. For an interesting list called ‘Top 75 Best Manly Hobbies for Men‘, which I first came to know of via Gaybros.

I have to say I like lists; they can be funny and entertaining. Buzzfeed has a lot of fun ones. Some if not most are obviously not meant to be taken seriously, but I think I came across some thought-provoking ones as well.

Lists with a ‘best’ or ‘worst’ in their titles like this Manly Hobbies one, I take with a pinch of salt. But I have to say I like this one, for a few reasons. Firstly I’m impressed with how comprehensive it is (not ten or twenty but seventy-five hobbies!), and secondly it includes some stuff that’s not conventionally considered masculine, like fashion design, dancing and thrifting. Third, it has some unexpected and fascinating-sounding suggestions. Knife making, anyone? Uhmm, gold panning?

I guess the title is not meant to be taken seriously, it’s there just to attract eyeballs. It certainly did mine. The list is about suggesting activities for guys who are considering to engage in new stuff, and in that regard I think the writer did a great job.

Below is the full list. I’ve gone through it and checked how I can relate to it.

  1. Cooking and Grilling 
  2. Homebrewing Beer
  3. Skiing and Snowboarding
  4. Leatherworking
  5. Chess
  6. Rocketry
  7. Investing
  8. Lockpicking
  9. Archery
  10. Thrifting (does getting brand new junk at 2-dollar shop Daiso count? hah)
  11. Tattooing
  12. Bodybuilding (working out in general)
  13. Rock Sports
  14. Classic Car Restoration
  15. Traditional Sports (e.g. rugby, soccer, baseball, basketball, etc.)
  16. Magic
  17. Paintball
  18. Electronic Models
  19. Survival
  20. Cycling and Mountain Biking
  21. Photography
  22. Reading
  23. Martial Arts
  24. Skateboarding and BMX
  25. Geocaching
  26. Knife Making
  27. Landscaping
  28. Sculpting Stone
  29. Wet Shaving
  30. Electronic Music Producing
  31. Writing
  32. Darts
  33. Sailing and Canoeing
  34. Flying
  35. Rock and Mineral Collecting
  36. Drawing and Painting
  37. Digital Design and Coding
  38. Astronomy
  39. Scotch Tasting
  40. Billards
  41. Fantasy Sports
  42. Rebuilding Motorcycles
  43. Gold Panning
  44. Fencing
  45. Volunteering
  46. Poker and Cards
  47. Guitar
  48. Golfing
  49. Coaching and Mentoring
  50. Meditation and Yoga
  51. Fishing
  52. Traveling
  53. Auto Racing
  54. Fishkeeping
  55. Surfing
  56. Bowling
  57. Interior design
  58. Currency Collecting
  59. Foreign Languages
  60. Whittling
  61. Genealogy
  62. Cigar Enthusiast
  63. Wine Tasting
  64. Movie Watching
  65. Gardening
  66. Fashion Design
  67. Snorkeling
  68. Dancing
  69. Boxing
  70. Watchmaking
  71. Woodworking
  72. Internet Marketing
  73. Metalworking
  74. Camping
  75. Model Crafting

Green: Done, either as things I still do as hobbies, or used to do, or at least have tried/sampled doing.

Blue: Interesting ideas, or stuff that had crossed my mind before. Would love to try someday, time permitting.

Red: No. Just no interest.

Purple: No. Sounds a teeny weeny bit interesting, but no resources or not applicable. Or it requires buying too many new stuff. For some years I’ve been cutting down buying things instead of acquiring new unnecessary things, because 1. to save money; 2. my residence is small, and 3. for the environment (less stuff bought equals less packaging thrown out and less used broken stuff thrown out.)

Drake Jensen

p_DJ_OUTlaw

Drake Jensen’s latest album. Image from his website. Click to go there.

I knew checking out that Reddit for the young’uns would shimmy up a golden nugget or ten. I don’t participate or subscribe in the first place because really I think it’s a place for young men like in their early twenties to discuss stuff, but it’s now one of the interesting places to check out gay-related stuff.

Thanks to them one of the things I have now discovered is Canadian country music singer Drake Jensen. A link by redditor lordyjordy led me to an article about how new singer Steve Grand shouldn’t be called the first openly gay male country singer, and it mentioned Drake, and I was quickly onto his videos on YouTube. Great stuff.

I don’t listen to country much, there is very little in my iTunes. I would say my first encounter was early k.d. lang, starting with Angel with a Lariat and the classic Shadowland, an amazing album, a masterpiece really, that I think I’ll put on again right after writing this. Along with Chris Isaak, a long-time favourite, his music colours the landscapes of my life over the years till now.

Then there were some other artists I came across when they had songs that made it to pop radio like LeAnn Rimes and Sheryl Crow, whose greatest hits album is an absolute joy. I need to play that too later. And oh, not forgetting Loretta Lynn and her Jack White-produced Van Lear Rose. That’s another amazing album I love. Yup, that’s it. There might be other country or country-esque stuff in my collection I just don’t recall now.

I can’t begin to describe how much I adore the following version of Stand by your man. I was introduced to the song watching the closing scene of The Crying Game at the movies.

Related:

Vincent Wijeysingha

600px-Vincent_Wijeysingha_at_Greenridge_Secondary_School,_Singapore_-_20110427

Image by Wikipedia user ‘Jacklee’. Click to go to source.

Vincent Wijeysingha became Singapore’s first openly gay politician, when he came out on his Facebook last Friday the 28th. I read this on Yahoo! News Singapore the following day. According to the article by Shah Salimat, Vincent wrote:

“…yes, I am going to Pink Dot tomorrow. And yes, I am gay.”

Writing about him here, I want to include the link to that declaration, but I can’t seem to find it. Anyway, the link to his Facebook is here.

Oh wow, we now have an openly gay politician. How amazing is that? This is huge. Needless to say (but saying it anyway), it is incredibly brave of him to do so. He has so much to lose, so much more hardship and obstacles now to face as a consequence, but he did it anyway. Major balls. I hope his family, friends, colleagues, and everyone else who know him personally especially, all rally round him and give him further strength and motivation.

To be honest I don’t really follow politics. Before this, if you had shown me a picture of him, I would recognize him as one of the opposition guys running in the last election in 2011, but I wouldn’t remember his name. Now, yeah, I even know how to spell it. And even marvel that his name has ‘singha‘ in the end. That means ‘lion‘, as in part of ‘lion city‘, ‘Singapura‘, the very name of the country he loves and serves! Too cool, right?

And to add to that, I even start to look more closely at him and think… hmmm, he’s actually goodlooking. (The above picture doesn’t do him justice. He has a sweet attractive smile in some of the other pictures I saw.) Yes, I’m superficial like that sometimes. *shrugs*

Some stuff I learnt about him from Wiki and his Facebook:

  • Dr. Vincent Wijeysingha (born 1970) is a politician and civil activist from Singapore.
  • He studied at Victoria School in Singapore, then headed to the United Kingdom and studied at the University of Lincoln, earning his PhD in social policy at the University of Sheffield. He lived in England for almost 16 years before moving back to Singapore.
  • He is currently the Treasurer of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) and a member of its Central Executive Committee. He also heads its Communications Unit.
  • Dr Wijeysingha has stated that he joined the SDP because he realised he had a responsibility as a Singaporean to work for change, saying that: “I cannot look the other way as more and more people experience the adverse effects of current PAP policies.”[*]
  • He was previously Executive Director of Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2), a non-government organization advocating the rights of low-waged migrant workers.
  • He also lectures and publishes scholarly papers on social work.
  • Currently he teaches social work at SIM University.

Related articles:

James Gandolfini

tumblr_inline_moomc7jSr31r7dml8

James Joseph Gandolfini, Jr. (1961-2013). Actor. Photo from taniaonthescene.com. Click to go there.

Aaarrgghh I can’t believe he has already passed away. He was only 51. Nooooooooooo…

Of course I loved him as Tony in the six seasons of The Sopranos, and he was amazing in so many other roles, but my favourite by him was Winston, the gay assassin in the adventure-rom-com The Mexican (2001). The leads of that movie were great too. Julia Roberts was a fun hysterical riot to watch and Brad Pitt was funny as well. But James was riveting, as usual. He was always brilliant and charismatic and an absolute joy to watch, made more remarkable by the fact that his performances are always so quiet and dignified.

The character Winston Baldry was an amazing creation in itself. A gay role that was so unlike typically portrayed in movies, but James breathed life into it as only he could. Some roles, like Tony Soprano, are played so perfectly that you’re just convinced they are truly meant for the actors that played them, that no other actor can play them as well.

My heart goes out to his family. His baby girl is only 8 months old.

A beautiful tribute to James here on Vulture.com by Matt Zoller Seitz.

And this great video tribute by movieclipsTRAILERS.

Stephen Fry

Stephenfrynightingale

Stephen John Fry. Image from Wikipedia, by user ‘Brian Minkoff-London Pixels’. Click to go to source.

At the beginning of this year, I found myself noting the suicide of Aaron Swartz, who was only 26. And then just a month later Arpad Miklos, who was only 45, although being depressed and to the point of taking or wanting to take your own life is sad at any age.

I like this Stephen Fry guy. I’m glad I’m not writing about his death by suicide here, although it still saddens me to learn that the man attempted it last year. I came across this news from a Telegraph article dated the 7th this month, itself a searing and sobering read from the journalist Tim Lott, with regards to his own attempt when he was 31, and his own mother’s suicide shortly after.

Wikipedia lists Stephen’s talents as the following mouthful: actor, screenwriter, author, playwright, journalist, poet, comedian, television and radio presenter, film director, activist, and board member of Norwich City Football Club.

I like him because I find him fascinating from what little I’ve seen and read of him, in the things he has to say, whether it’s on homophobia and other gay issues, and on atheism. Born Jewish, Stephen’s an atheist. He is outspoken about religion. He is often funny and entertaining. He also seems to me to be, for lack of a fancy big word, kind. I have come across him being described as a ‘humanist’. Checking that word on dictionary.com (haha), humanist means: a person having a strong interest in or concern for human welfare, values, and dignity. I suspect he’s really that.

I’d like to include a video of him I saw last year.

In The Independent, another UK online news outlet, Stephen’s attempt happened during the course of filming a documentary for BBC called ‘Out There‘. It is about what it means to be gay in different parts of the world, specifically Russia, Uganda and the United States. For this work, he met a range of people both for and against gay rights. It was during the making of this film that he took an overdose of pills and alcohol while alone in his hotel room. He was unconscious when fortunately he was found by a producer on the film who came into his room and who got him medical help.

Stephen found out later that while he was unconscious, the large number of pills and large amount of alcohol he had taken had caused his body to convulse so much that he broke four ribs.

Stephen Fry – Out There, is due to be screened later this year.

In another article also by The Independent, I went on to read that Stephen had been diagnosed with a bipolar disorder, which had been previously documented in another BBC production called Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive. He had also been public about his battles with depression. The things he said contained in the article are revealing and sad:

“You may say, ‘How can anybody who’s got it all be so stupid as to want to end it all?’ That’s the point, there is no ‘why?’ That’s not the right question. There is no reason. If there was reason for it, you could reason someone out of it.”

“I am the victim of my own moods, more than most people are perhaps, in as much as I have a condition which requires me to take medication so that I don’t get either too hyper or too depressed to the point of suicide.”

“Sometimes it’s the expression I imagine on my mother and father’s face – both of whom are alive and happy – that stops me. But there are other occasions when I can’t stop myself, or at least I feel I can’t.”

(About feeling unable to talk to friends about his condition) “All my friends and family, when they eventually heard about it (the suicide attempt), came to visit me in hospital all said, ‘Well, why didn’t you call?’

“I like to think that if I had children I would think harder about doing it, but I know people who have had children who have done it.”

“There are times when I’m doing QI (a television quiz show) and I’m going ‘ha ha, yeah, yeah’, and inside I’m going ‘I want to f**king die. I… want… to… f**king… die.'”

I hope he’s well.