Saturday, September 23, 2006

S2006: The great misrepresentation

Now that the IMF and WB meetings here have finally come to a close, the excitement has died down, and finally we can go to town without those infuriating jams.

I would like to express an opposing viewpoint on Singapore as a host to these meetings.

No doubt, we have been an outstanding host to these foreign delegates. Brilliant job we have done. It was surely a success.

Each delegate had a chauffeur specially trained by BMW to professionally handle the flagship 7 series limos. These limos were spanking new, totally new off the production line, and they were reserved for the delegates. On expressways, my dad commented that the flowers and plants suddenly started to flourish. They had special attention and extra fertilizer. At Suntec, many booths were set up; there were countless temporary rooms, and a few thousand computers in all. Even the computer wallpaper was that of the IMF meetings – the blue background with the leave-like logo at the side. At the airport, cabbies who dressed formally were waiting patiently in their diesel Mercedes E200 sedans to ferry these visitors to town. Hotels paid exceptional care to food. I heard that each plate they use costs $90. Buses are covered with the four million smiles poster, with each face so minute that the buses look like a patch of beige. 12000 staff and volunteers were employed in all to manage this mammoth event.

But stop. Let us reflect.

Have we overdone this event?

I think we have. We have dressed up Singapore to look so vibrant, the decorations and aesthetics and the cleanliness…does it accurately represent Singapore? Is it a misrepresentation of our country?

Yes, it is necessary to do up our country to welcome delegates. When a visitor comes to our school, we are told to behave well. Same concept here. But have we overdone it? Did the delegates truly understand Singapore? We have put up a false facade to entertain these special people and gain worldwide attention that we are a wonderful nation. But is that how Singapore really is? Do the plants on expressways always blossom with such colour?

I am disappointed that while we try our very best to make them feel at home, we have forgotten about the essence of it all, which is to let them experience Singapore as it truly is.

S2006 has been a big misrepresentation.

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