I am in the mood to tell a story that happened many eons ago. Singapore was a young and dynamic state, with an equally young and robust PM. It was an era when mistakes were not tolerated, not even a misplaced comma or a full stop. It could ruin the career of a civil servant for not minding his comma or full stop. Yeah, can be quite unforgiving. But that was the standard of the day.
The PM went golfing on a Sunday morning in Tanah Merah. He drove his tee shot into the centre of the fairway. The sound of a plane roared as it approached for landing. The PM looked up, trying to take a look at the spectacular sight of a Boeing 707 with wheels hanging down. Oops, no luck, view blocked by the casuarina trees. ‘The trees are a bit too high. Otherwise the view would be excellent.’ Said the PM as he went on for his second shot.
The next Sunday he was at the same hole and drove the same ball into the fairway. There was a gust of wind and the ball swerved into OB. A bit annoyed, he looked up. ‘Where are the trees?’ Apparently someone took his comment very seriously, and the trees were cut to waist height, contributing to a more gusty course.
It was an old story and no one will ascertain if it is a true story. The morale of the story is that people at high places should be careful with their words. People react irrationally, taken every word, comma and full stop very seriously too. Some may even over react, for good or bad reasons, for their rice bowl, fear, or to angkat, to please the lord.
And many people suffered as a result. Resources, time, energy and even money were spent that needed not be. How many workers were involved in cutting down the trees? How much was paid to the contractor. The saddest part, the trees suffered a tragic fate all because of an innocent statement. But who cares for the trees anyway?
In the Halloween Horror case, the victims are the poor students, full of enthusiasm, doing their best to score an A for their projects. It would go into their CVs as a shining star when the time comes for sending out job application letters. It probably came to nought. How many people were involved and supported the project and the students, guiding and encouraging them in this endeavour? The lecturers, the principal, the staff of WRS, their friends and relatives, the customers who were willing to pay for the show, never see anything wrong with the event. They were all rebuffed.
How many people’s negative comments were needed to cancel such a project?
What can be worst, not happening yet, and I hope not, will be an asshole to fail the students. The reasoning, the students should know that WRS is a family oriented organization, for wholesome family activities. Choosing something like Halloween Horror and holding it as a WRS event is simply poor understanding, planning and foresight. The students failed to think through the project carefully and thus ended with an abandoned project.
I am just speculating. But knowing the ethos of the day, scoring points, trying to read the minds of those that matters, and taking a stand to please the ‘boss’, angkat angkat a bit, and you can have hell for the students. And don’t expect the devil to protect the students as god is more powderful.
Has the Halloween Horror story seen its final chapter?