An Ode to March: Satre, Laurence Lien, James Wilson and Tao Jie

21 Mar

March was and is sort of an unusual month. During the month, I was especially hit by how our society have dengerated over the last two decades to become more economically successful but last caring and inclusive. The kampongs are no longer with us but it seems that we were just as determined to give up the “kampong spirit” along with our pursuit for mordernity, convenience, instant technology and gratification.  Our addictions to and dependency on material goods and materialistic fantasies have blurred out the most basic principles and simple pleasures in life. Our lives are led “in-itself”  rather than “for-itself”.  We easily succumb to our basic instincts rather than exercise our human judgement. Have we forgotten the ability of ourselves to nihilate and reduce ourselves to nothingness? Jean Paul Satre’s Being and Nothingness still wakes me up in my dreams of dreams.

If the Broken Windows Theory is an indication of the beginning of community decay, then would the death of James Q Wilson this early March matter?

Laurence Lien rattled me with his first speech as NMP…how sweet when the bell gently tolls, how tragic as the guitar gently weeps…

Laurence Lien: Certainly, we must strive to be inclusive.  But  we can’t achieve this only through social policies and programmes.  Inclusiveness is fundamentally about how our people treat one another, not just about what the Government can do for its people, which, don’t get me wrong, is still important because the government represents the people.       

Besides, inclusiveness is more a mindset and value system, which the Government needs to lead the way in but cannot deliver alone.  Inclusiveness here is a sense of belonging, of being respected and valued for who you are, not what you should be, and ultimately, being always treated with equal dignity and compassion, no matter how old, how rich, how educated, what titles you hold, and how different you are. People are the ends, not the means. 

Being an Inclusive Society must be something that Singaporeans must firstly want. Otherwise, the Government’s efforts will be futile. You can give the Silver Housing Bonus to seniors, but other residents may reject the building of studio apartments and services for seniors. You can give the Special Employment Credit, but employers may refuse to hire and fit jobs to suit the disabled and senior workers.  Recent signs are that we are still not an inclusive society.  In fact, I believe we are in a social recession. We see this generally in the weakening of individual resilience, the loosening of family bonds and a decline in community cohesiveness.  The symptoms would include rising levels of mental ill-health, loneliness, and increased addictions.  It is caused by the stresses of living, by individualism and materialism.   

The heartache of Tao Jie 

In the cinema, there were at least 6 Ah-Ma(s) seated behind me giving a running commentary of an award winning Hong Kong film that I have been meaning to watch. One even picked up the phone halfway during the movie and told her husband she wasn’t coming back for dinner as she was watching a movie and having dinner with her friends. The middle-aged lady beside me was seething with anger as she squirmed in her seat and glared angrily back at the elderly women spoiling her movie experience. Even before the show started, she remarked openly, “so many old people, later surely very noisy one.” Finally, she couldn’t bear it no more, turned around, put her finger to her pursed lips and made a loud “SHHHHHH!” The Ah-Ma(s) stopped for awhile perhaps taken aback but resumed their hokkien cum cantonese multi-way dialogue shortly after, much to my delight and amusement. Gradually, the middle-aged lady adapted and tried to enjoy the movie.

If it was a Mission Impossible screening, I might have told them politely to keep it down but because A Simple Life was a movie that was about elderly and our responsibility to them, I guess I couldn’t bear to. How many films were made for the elderly? And besides the Ah-Ma(s) said some of the damnest things which was really funny as well. The storyline was touching but wasn’t really exciting. Actually, the cinematography and cast were better than the script. In fact, it was rather interesting to see a live cast behind me and all around the cinema as I have never seen so many elderly in a regular cinema screening before. Even the mood after the show was distinctively different, I guess many of us were thinking if we will ever have someone like the Andy Lau to take care of us in our twilight years or will we be given the cursory care and concern? Suffused with the gentle, unforced humanity viewers have come to expect from Hong Kong helmer Ann Hui, “A Simple Life” is a tender ode to the elderly, their caregivers and the mutual generosity of spirit that makes their limited time together worthwhile. Fittingly for a film about the challenges and rewards of looking after the sick and aging, this well-observed, pleasantly meandering dramedy requires a measure of patience, and some judicious trimming would improve its chances for export. But the moving, never tearjerking lead performances by Andy Lau and Deanie Ip rep strong selling points for Hui’s following at home and abroad.

After the show, I told the middle-aged lady beside me, “movie quite touching hor, the ah pors behind a bit noisy, but I also scared when I old like them no one to talk to me and no one to watch movie with me.” She looked at me, puzzled. 


One Response to “An Ode to March: Satre, Laurence Lien, James Wilson and Tao Jie”


  1. Daily SG: 21 Mar 2012 « The Singapore Daily - March 21, 2012

    […] Disclosure – A Yummy Slice of Life: Ehhh…. Singaporean culture. – Unbranded Bread n Butter: An Ode to March: Laurence Lien, James Wilson and Tao Jie – Article 14: A picture speaks a thousand ironies – Gintai: Singapore must achieve more with less […]

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