THE INTELLIGENT SINGAPOREAN

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Mr Wang is Right

Posted by inspir3d on August 23, 2006

“When PM Lee in his Rally Speech delivers the ultimate punchline to lay the bak chor mee to rest, to signal Government’s engagement with the Digital Age Singaporean, those dreaming of somewhere else, he utters the phrase “Mee Siam Mai Hum”.

This becomes an instant classic of dis-connect. …

… in this case, Mee Siam has never had cockles as an ingredient. Two other distinctly Singapore dishes use cockles. Laksa and Fried Kway Teow Noodles. Most Singaporeans know this. Its a fact of life. ”

How kind of Xenoboy to point this out. No wonder I felt as if something was wrong.

…more (Xenoboy)

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15 Responses to “Mr Wang is Right”

  1. Maybe it was mispronounced? It was actually meant to be “Mee Siam Mai Hiam“?

    mai hiam: No chilli.

  2. Joseph said

    I strongly believe that it was an innocuous mistake by PM Lee. PM Lee was delivering a speech made on the spot with notes as aids, and you can’t expect a perfect delivery. You will only expect a perfect delivery if the speech was actually written in full on paper and all PM Lee had to do was perform a didactic function – reading off his paper.

    But no, he didn’t. He delivered his own speech which he thought was reflective of his opinion, the government’s position, and for the country’s interest. The mai hum thing is just a Freudian slip (without all the connotations of a Freudian slip).

    Frankly, I’m quite annoyed with the way people just jump all over it and immediately typifies it as a disconnect. I have no problem with mrbrown’s podcast, because it’s supposed to be satirical, but taking it seriously at face value and digging out all the possible underlying disconnects that gave rise to such a slip?

    P.S. A Freudian slip is an unconscious error in human action/memory/speech.

  3. Hi Joseph,

    I agree with you totally on your point. It is non-constructive to be overtly critical over a slip of the tongue. To err is to be human. If we are so overtly crticial and so unforgiving, it does make people in the blogosphere look petty and actually perpetuate the stereotyping of the Internet as a medium full of nonsense and noise.

    To add, it was reported in yesterday’s Straits Times Quick News on page H6 (bottom right corner) that the PM meant to say Laksa instead of Mee Siam.

  4. inspir3d said

    Hmm… I personally have to step in and disagree here.

    I think the whole point of PM Lee trying to deliver that particular joke was to try to connect with those who disagreed with him over the handling of the Mr. Brown incident, and to win them over to his side by ‘demonstrating’ that he also understood the joke.

    But even if he had said exactly what he meant to say:

    “I give you an example. You put out a funny podcast, you talk about bak chor mee. I will say Laksa mai hiam.

    Then we compete. Then what will I do? I will hire Jack Neo to be my National Day Rally adviser.”

    I don’t exactly see how this is funny, nor do i see how his use of “laksa mai hiam” illustrates the ‘competition’ that he is talking about. If anything, his mess up of his intended joke indicates that humour and satire isn’t the playing field where he should be competing.

    I think his failure to deliver what he meant to, signifies more than just a ‘mispronunciation’ – and perhaps i am amongst the minority. but i didn’t find his joke funny at all.

    If PM Lee really wants to show that his government is open, then he should invite Mr Brown to write a retort to Bhavani’s accusations. He should also instruct Today to publish letters sent in by the public regarding the issue.

    These would be much more effective than trying to deliver a joke which he clearly is not able to.

  5. Hi Inspir3d,

    Actually, the whole term is now “Laksa Mai Hum”, not “Laksa Mai Hiam”.

    I also didn’t think that he was making a joke. He was using it as an example that politics is serious and not to be satirised. Politics is complicated. Actually, in my view, for a society to become truly open, he should not and cannot instruct Today to publish letters sent in by the public regarding the mrbown issue.

    In my view, it was entirely Today papers management decision to suspend mrbrown’s column not publish the letters.

    Again, let me repeat. Politics is complicated. There are currently at least 3 generations of MPs and ministers in the government. As a leader, all the views of the various members need to be balanced.

    If he decides that he does whatever he wants and wishes, then we have a dictatorship.

    Being a leader is not easy. Being my own boss, I too find myself in situations where my hands are tied.

  6. In my opinion, the whole section of his rally on the digital age is quite meaningless. I expect more from a National Rally than having a rehash of past events, moreover hitting on a dead issue.

    But then, the whole speech seems like a summary of collective knowledge we all already know.

    He would have saved himself the embarrassement if he had let it go. Karma is fair.

    🙂

  7. brotherwhostayback said

    Appearances can sometimes be deceptive.

    If he wanted to come across as more humane and real as opposed to being a fake – what would be do?

  8. Sigh… but that’s the sad thing about being the leader of the government. People EXPECT him to say something about it. He could not have kept his silence. This is the classic case of “Damn if you do, damn if you don’t” scenario.

  9. brotherwhostayback said

    Politics has become very complex these days – especially with globalization – there used to be a time when all politicians had to do was jump on the community bullocart and say, “if we win – you win!” and people actually believed them. Because the newspapers, radio and TV said they really meant it and since they meant it, it had to be real.

    Nowadays with the advent of technology, most of us are fatigued by every politician who claims to be community politician.

    What is fast emerging in the mainstream of what constitutes politics today is a yearning for real politicians – we are seeing this return to authenticity not only in politics but also in food

    (btw I know a chicken rice vendor who actually airbrushed his chickens with food grade yellow paint and when I ask him why, he says, “it look realer mah, sell for more money”), furniture to even something as mundane as common salt, people want things to be as natural and base as possible –

    it’s a back lash of the dot.com days when we were repeatedly told technology had all the answers and now that it’s all turned to mud – there is gap or systematic flaw in our view of the world and this naturally tempers our political viewpoint –

    “they can be wrong”

    I dont really know precisely what real politics entails – I guess alot of it is perception driven, but I do know a large chunk of what constitutes real politics requires governments to decentralize power – projects like Imagine Chicago, where ordinary folk are actively involved in urban planning guarantees real progress without necessarily having to gut out whole communities in the name of economic progress – if our scholars in the URA took a leaf out of the Imagine project, Chinatown would have resembled disneyland on a week day in winter.

    Implicit within this notion of decentralizing power is the idea people should and can be empowered to take control of their lifes and more importantly they CAN be trusted with power – people in this century see the quantum of their indepedence and freedom as a function of how much flexibility they have to shape and mould their destinies and in response to these needs governments all over the world are increasingly starting to use words like “emotional literacy” or “self esteem” – people no longer want to be treated like numbers, they no longer believe in the scientific approach, they want a humanistic touch.

  10. brotherwhostayback said

    Now you know why he mangled up his “hiam” and “hamms” – to appear more human that is.

  11. How enlightening …

    conspiracy theories abound! Last I heard, MB was his secret advisor for this year’s rally speech. They intentionally engineered the whole hum-drum episode for both to appear more humane.

    PM must look more stupid than us in order to connect with us and MB will sell more T-shirts. Co-incidentally, MB’s shirts are ready for sale this week!

    Yawn… good night, PM.

  12. pump man said

    brotherwhostayback guess what? I got left behind as well.

    I am glad bro darkness and those human computers have gone. To be really honest with you, they give me the creeps. For starters, I don’t understand one thing they are on abt and for another, I can never understand bro darkness.

    I think most ppl are just making a big deal over this mee siam vs laksa issue, it’s a simple case of a typo error. Note the pm was using an auto cue to deliver his ND speech, so he read it ad verbatim.

    As those human computers aka mind warriors say in Primus.

    “Straight line computation with no margin for approximations…..no doubt abt it.” (who was the one that came out with that?)

    I guess everyone is allowed to make mistakes. However, having said yr point has merits. Historically, at least.

    R.Reagen used to keep a jar of jelly beans on his desk to convey his human weakness for sweet things -Clinton kept a copy of lolita on his shelf to show he was a man who had a prediliction for sweeter things, if they were young and sweet. Maggie Thatcher used the same tea mug time and again to show the British public she brewed her own tea. As for Bush, we all know he killed off the segway transporter by deliberately falling off it.

    So there you go, politicians are a sly lot, a slip up is never really a slip up.

    This is beginning to sound like one of bro darkness “I see plans within plans within plans within plans” post.

    BTW protoFC are u chappies still in the marriage bureau business of the brotherhood?

  13. tomahawk said

    Mmmmmmh pump man, if he wanted to come across as real, he wouldn’t be using an auto cue. Most politicians these days don’t use them because they come across as contrite and plasticky – I am believe it was simply a genuine mistake.

    staybackbro agree completely with your observation concerning China town project undertaken by URA.

    However, I am not all together convinced with the whole idea of devolving power down the line. In theory it sounds good, but in practice, it’s all together a different kettle of fish. Besides singapore is a city state, it doesnt have the same geo spatial limitations of time and space which generates lags like big countries.

    Society is pretty homogeneous and monolithic, so in what way does fragmenting orgs into smaller aggregates actually benefit the whole?

  14. inspir3d said

    Something to think about: if PM Lee’s slip was really a harmless mistake, then why did the MSM go to such lengths to cover it up?

  15. protoFC said

    “Something to think about: if PM Lee’s slip was really a harmless mistake, then why did the MSM go to such lengths to cover it up?”

    I think some poor sod is going to be transfered to the singaporean embassy somewhere in Ulan bantor or Baghdad very soon.

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