All that glitters is not gold

By now, most Singaporeans would have read how the maverick artist in our midst had been thwarted yet again in her bid at self-expression. I am talking about Miss Priyageetha Dia of the golden staircase fame of course. A year ago, Priya, then a final-year Lasalle fine arts student, covered the staircase on the 20th floor of her HDB block with gold foil and sparked a debate on whether it was art or vandalism. Whatever it was, she had to remove it after the town council deemed it “unauthorised” and “not permissible”.

Last Sunday, she was back at it again. This time, she hung gold coloured sheets on the outer walls of her block using flag hooks on the corridor ledge --
and met with a similar fate for a similar reason. She had to remove the sheets after the town council said she did not seek their permission prior to hanging them up. To be fair, they were acting on residents’ complaints but one wonders if they would have said yes even if she had asked for permission and there were no complaints.

Obviously not everything she touches turns into gold but you can’t fault the girl for not trying. Asked why she did not first seek permission, Priya said: “I wanted to execute the project without modifying it to the town council’s guidelines. I wanted it to be raw and original.”  Spoken like a true artist. And  for some out-of-the-box thinking that the Government so craves, let’s hear it from her again: “I want to create an intervention with the HDB space.  The hooks along the corridor are only for the national flag, I want to provoke its functionality by hanging another material.”

Compare this with some of the residents’ complaints - “The sheets look like incense paper” & “they are very noisy when blown by the wind” - and you have a fair idea of the ocean of conformity and groupthink that poor Priya is marooned in. The problem is not only confined to the citizenry. It extends to the political leadership as well. At a forum on political succession on Tuesday (20 Mar), ex-NMP Eugene Tan said there are no standout candidates because none has left a deep impression. More ominously, the panel felt that regardless of who the next prime minister is, “it will be more of the same, with the new leader unlikely to veer from the tried and tested ways”. Rubbing salt into wound, another ex-NMP Zulkifli Baharudin opined: “While people want a leader who is daring and transformative, we have inputted our own conservative attitudes in choosing the next generation leader. So we are not going to get it.”

I am hoping against hope that he is wrong. Singapore needs nimble, innovative and out-of-the-box people. We need more - not less - people who dare to question conventions. People who dare to ask “why not?” Most of all, we need a PM who dares to take on this eternal conundrum of Singapore society - how to maintain a highly ordered and disciplined society without imposing rigid conformity or frightening every potential Van Gogh, Steve Jobs and Priya back into their mother’s womb. Will we have such a PM?


b said...

''Most of all, we need a PM who dares to take on this eternal conundrum of Singapore society ''
- sounds very unlikely to be Ah Long because his position is almost handed to him on a silver platter.

Anonymous said...

Putting gold stuff on other s premises in the name of arts, has intruded into the space belonged to other residents.

While many will not bother, the student should not take it as entitling to do as she wishes. There are many ways expressing arts, best start from her own home and open the displays for others to appreciate, especially the reporters.

What these nmp s talking are talking about their own conformity. That smu professor when first asked what happened to Sylvia not saying sorry? He suggested to start a select committee to punish the ill behavior. He oredi defined the WP mp has had committed ill behavior.
While many out there just thought might not. Saying something the ministers dislike was ill behaved to this smu guy. He was too squarish in his own mind. Now what, did he write in to tell the parliament to start a select committee?
He is a lawyer, he should know residents own the flat that have rights to the flat. The student could try it. If residents complained to TC to remove the display, then the smu lawyer should stand at TC s side to help maintain good behavior and not ill behavior.

No big deal to the student. She learned new things about this society. Due respect to her creativity. She sounded like a foreigner not knowing the residents are trained by the politicians to fight for their space. That s pap space. Go to HG, may be the TC might see her differently. But still needs to seek approval first, student, say sorry now or a select committee might be formed.

Anonymous said...

with the recent many law changes, it will be an uphill tasks to do anything of the norms. Without the daredevil, there will be no Steve Jobs or innovators to try out new things. This little red dot will remain status quo & this cruise hotel will be end up in an abyss with a captain that is blinded by economic digits.

Anonymous said...

Joseph Schooling will not attain Spore First Gold Medal if his parents give up questioning the gahmen bout NS deferment, probably if JS followed the then Flying Fish of Asia footsteps & go serve NS, Spore would have lost that opportunity, see the wisdom of his parents willing to invest in his only son, while the gahnmen willing to spent monies on foreigners & even foreigners scholars after tat most just packed their bag home.

b said...


JS is a good example that if one follows pap system , he/she will achieve nothing. Sg has talents but under pap system, that talents will be wasted.

Anonymous said...

@b 6.21pm

U r rite. Under the dog system, u only hv dogs , & when these dogs can't learn new tricks they r discarded, look at the national soccer team is one typical eg.

Anonymous said...

Lasalle fine arts a lousy school lah ... students there, many are foreigners, always laze around, smoke and throw cigarette butts on the ground, littering Short Street, Albert Street.

Sinkie residents there very du lan of them .. call the school Lang Sai School (cock shit school) instead of La Salle School . . .

Anonymous said...

"It was a lowly Corporal who masterfully built up the foundations of the SAF and Singapore’s defence technology framework but today the notion that it takes Generals to get the job done has become all-pervasive and they are parachuted right to the top with amazing speed.

It’s no secret that the SAF is a prodigious breeding ground for high fliers and PAP politicians. Dozens of high-ranking officers, many of them Generals, emerge with regularity to contest elections, take on ministerial posts and infiltrate the government, civil service and GLCs.

Just what is it about the training and the experience they undergo that gives the PAP such unfailing trust in them to excel outside the SAF? What baptism of fire have they been put through which prepares them to be top dogs?"

Virgo49 said...

Now realise that the Oldies in the 50s/60s and to the late 80s are much smarter and street wise than Today's New Highly Educated Gene ration.

Now wah piang many many papers that can be used for toilet papers.

No use your Bains with so many papers also no use.

Or maybe studied till too many papers that they became Chee Sein
or Wires in brains goes haywire.

See cock ups after cock ups.

Ⓜatilah $ingapura⚠️ said...

Alamak,bismilahallah...damn hard to find the words for this one...nonetheless, I try lah.

Govt spends 100's of millions (billions if you count The Esplanade) on the promotion of art, and to fast-track a local arts culture comparable to the world's best (meritocracy lah kotek), and then shit like this happens.

As I said in a few previous posts, The State has no place in being the arbiter of taste. If something endangers the public safety, then maybe there are grounds for State Interference. But this...a harmless art installation by an obviously DARING young Singaporean...this is just CHILDISH.

Are we a nation of children, run by a govt of highly educated people with the emotions of a spoilt child?

I wonder...

Anonymous said...

We are being governed by a bunch of over-grown school boys stuck in their glory of scoring 4 or 5 Asses during their college days at the age of 17 or 18. These fast-tracked glorified immature book-worms can't even distinguish between a "snake" and a "harmless worm", think the whole world belongs to them and they alone. Nobody else.