Kopi Talk

Posted in kopi, lee hsien long's salary, stasi, taxis by expatatlarge on June 26, 2010

My taxi driver from the airport tonight was very fond of conversation / the sound of his own voice. Like most taxi drivers you ask and probably many other Singaporeans (only 66% voted for the monotheistic PAP last election) he had some very negative and probably seditious things to say about his beloved home country…

– first 20 years of LKY, very good, it work, but last 20 years very bad – just make money for Lee family.

– everybody think [know? I can’t recall exactly what he said] Lee Hsien Long [current PM, on $3.8 million a year] is an idiot.

– Singapore people no talk politic in kopi shop, people listen. Never talk politic. You talk politics in kopi shop, man follow you out, take you away for two days. Is true, everybody in Singapore know this.

– there no transparency in Temasek – (see note 1) money come in from our CPF [superannuation] where it go, where it invested? [Keep your hands on the wheel, Uncle!] We cannot see. We have no say. Temasek it lose money in crisis, invest in Citibank [actually it was Merrill Lynch and Barclays], and that Thai Shincorp [don’t start him on Thaksin]…

– Hong Kong is much better, so much freedom, do what you want, say what you want [I did not prompt him on this, I swear!]

– people, you live here in Moulmein [where we at the time], they know how you vote in election, next year you in other area, change change, you in Moulmein but vote for other area… [gerrymandering]


Australia did not escape unscathed either, in a backhand sort of way.

– Australia, what going on? Everything good, best of all country in Asia, no problem after finance crisis. So why you change Prime Minister? You crazy people. Nobody else would do that!


All in all an interesting ride home.


Regarding the Stasi-like eavesdropping in the coffee-shops, I notice that “Emma Larkin” has a new book out. Her last one, Finding George Orwell in Burma (US title) was a wonderful and frightening look into the ongoing oppression in Burma, reported through non-conversations in tea-houses of Rangoon and Mandalay, etc… (She refuses to use the new names as she feels that this legitimizes the current military regime.)

I saw a copy of her next book in the Ko Samui airport Bookazine. It’s called Everything Is Broken” and is about the corruption and arrogance during the least reported (suppressed even) enormous human tragedy in Asia* since the killing fields in Cambodia, the hurricane Nargis that devastated the Burmese coastline in 2008, leaving 140,000 dead.

* You can’t say that news of the 2004 tsunami was suppressed or went unreported!


That (to cheer an old man up), and David Mitchell’s latest are on the list.