The Hexacoto

Listening to the sound of one hand clapping

Month: December, 2013

Sunny-side up

I left a land of forests evergreen
for leaves that die ruby.
I jumped out of a balmy heat
and into winter’s vindictive freeze.
As roiling skies tumble a dismal grey,
painting our emotions flat,
I sit by my window sill
looking to the distant heavens
hoping to catch a glimpse of that same sun
that must be shining brightly down upon
that tropical paradise of unchanging seasons
from whence I came.

But I remember
sitting by a window sill,
boiling in a tropical heat,
looking out of the frying pan, at that same sun
that must be shining warmly down upon
that continental paradise of changing seasons
where I now sit.

Go to jail in Singapore, do not pass GO, toothpaste turns your teeth green

Singapore has long had a squeaky-clean image: no litter on the streets, certainly no gum problem, etc. But what lies beneath this veneer of sterile spotlessness? A Singaporean blurgtheamoeba shares with us what it was like to have gone through the Singapore jail system.

Thank you for you kind wishes. When i was younger, 90s, weed was very easy to get. I still think it is, but for obvious reasons, i stay away. Most of the people i know who i could get some from are, funnily enough, expats. In the 90s it was dirt cheap. I could get 10 grams for 50 bucks. I don’t know the prices now. I moved from sg in 2000.

Jail was terrible. In remand, our water source was the toilet bowl. The shavers are blunt and used, unless you have gang connections to get fresh ones. The tooth paste turns your teeth green. The soap is not soap, you can find piece of cardboard/plastic in it. We used our fingernails to clean ourselves. (Of course once you start a job in there ((pays like three bucks a week)) you can pool money to by normal soap and paste.) Everything can lead to a fight, from where you sleep, to how you stand/sit. I’d never been in a fight in my life and come from an educated family. It was a massive cultureshock. Racial segregation was weird too. Lottsa violence. You keep quiet and keep your head down and serve your time, basically.

I got lucky at the end. I didn’t have any family here so i couldnt get out on tagging. But the principal of the prison school overheard my story when i was being interviewed to be moved to a halfway house and he got me transferred to KBC where i taught English to the O/A level students till my release. But even there, a week before my release, some inmate lied and told them i received smuggled drugs ( you cant get anything in there. not even a toothpick), and they threw me into Personal Confinement while the investigations were carried out. 6 days in the dark, alone, with 15 mins outside every morning to wash yourself and the bucket you shit/piss in. Fuck that place.

In a nutshell, things are safe on the streets, because all the violent people are in there. And a lot of kids. Mostly malay kids for minor drug cases, who turn into gangsters. It’s a viscous viscious cycle.

I will never touch drugs here because i dont ever want to end up there again. The next time my sentence will be doubled, and I know i wouldnt be able to survive that.

Originally posted here.

Continuing further, he comments on forced sexual encounters in prision:

Yes there are, on the second night i woke up to find a guy masrtubating while looking at me. I pretended to not notice and go back to sleep and, thankfully he was transferred out. Three days later, he was raped in a cell . I guess he did the same to some other guy. The only other one i personally witnessed was when a tranny joined my cell at AWP. !st day in the shower guys approached him aggressively, but he turned straight to the “big gangster” and performed “services” for him on the spot. After that. He was the gangster’s property and noone else touched him. I slept on the other side of them in a big cell with about 20 of sleeping side by side on the floor and made it my business to not get involved with things that were beyond my ability to handle.

How many Singaporeans, living a life where they walk free, know of what it’s like for those incarcerated? Some of the Singaporean commenters expressed having their eyes opened at this facet of Singapore often ignored or not talked about.

He adds that this was a long time ago, and that prison facilities have changed very much since then.

Changi is a modern facility. I can’t imagine people drinking water from the toilet bowl there, for example.

I think what’s scariest is that for many of these guys, they can survive inside but not in the outside world. So its easy to reoffend. Who wants to hire an ex con? not many people, especially if said excon has spent most of his life in an out of jail. Viscious cycle.

I am lucky i have specialized skills (writer/musician). I am a freelancer who can make ends meet. Most ex-cons dont.

Singapore is notorious for its caning corporal punishments. For those who are curious as to who gets caned, blurgtheamoeba adds:

Nah. For vandalism yes. For domestic violence too. For drug cases, only traffickers. For a few others as well, though im not sure of them all. Not for possession/consumption. Because it’s a minority thing, it actually becomes counter productive. Guys who come back from being caned, to them it’s a badge of honor. Like a rite of passage.

Brutal though. they can’t sit down for days. The flesh has been flayed off and the wounds are very deep.

I do remember when we were in fourth or fifth grade, we got to go on a school trip to our prisons, where they showed us the facilities (concrete, bleak, grimy), the caning apparatus (an A-frame, assortment of giant canes), and had a ‘model’ inmate telling us what crimes he committed and how we, impressionable fourth/fifth graders should never commit crimes and stay out of jail.

I think that “National Education” trip was probably sufficient to traumatise many a child away from the path of law-breaking, given our harsh laws and seeing our low crime rate.

For those curious as to how long blurgtheamoeba’s sentence was:

18mths, possession + consumption + paraphernalia (a friggin cigarette roller). Physically a year. You get a third off automatically and they can add days within that period for fighting/etc.

When superheroes fall on hard times

What happens when even superheroes fall on hard times? Artist Chow Hon Lam gives us an idea of turning their talents into workforce skills. Except for Batman.

superheroSee the full-sized album images here on his Flickr page.

 

America’s Mood Map: An Interactive Guide to the United States of Attitude

TIME magazine is telling me I shouldn’t be in New York… Well my “critical and quarrelsome” self says “Pooh-pooh to that!”

The whirligig of unemployment

17-UNEMPLOYED-JP1-articleLarge[1]

Image credit to NY Times

Jenner Barrington-Ward says that she has been told, “point-blank to my face, ‘We don’t hire the unemployed.’ ”

If there’s a statement that makes no sense, it’s the quote from above. What’s the point of creating jobs, if not to give to those who are unemployed and looking? Where are these jobs going? The news report that unemployment is slowly ticking down, but the majority of those unemployed aren’t seeing any marked improvements in their joblessness situation.

As reported in the New York Times, those who have been retrenched or jobless for an extended period of time find themselves stuck in a rut:

For Ms. Barrington-Ward, joblessness itself has become a trap, an impediment to finding a job. Economists see it the same way, concerned that joblessness lasting more than six months is a major factor preventing people from getting rehired, with potentially grave consequences for tens of millions of Americans.

What’s the psyche behind not giving people who have been jobless for a while the jobs they are seeking, if they are qualified? The Times speculate that these people tend to be in poorer health, or they might have some sort of strained relations, possibly being a liability on the company. This is a system of employment that holds little pity for those they have kicked out, because it does little to take them back in once they’re out.

As pointed out in the article, leaving these people out in the cold has consequences on the economy, such as “lost production, increased social spending, decreased tax revenue and slower growth.”

But companies who are not hiring are not seeing it that way, are they? They are more concerned with their own financial stability, and the additional hiring of anyone is an additional payroll they have to pay out, and many companies are so concerned with their frugality, that the national-scale impact of their austerity is left to the worries of someone else. But if everyone else is doing that (“I can’t afford to hire anyone; I’ll let someone else the hiring to bolster the economy”), therein lies the eventual self-immolation — no one hires, less people have spending power to buy products, companies see a drop in revenue, they cut down on hiring and perhaps even lay off more people to maintain “fiscal health,” cycle repeats.

Mario the heartless

Finding a reason to write again

Every day, I think of updating, and then the thought hits me, “Why bother?” Why indeed? I created this blog in an attempt to increase my online profile, that I may become more hireable. It has been nearly six months since I’ve graduated, and I’ve yet to find permanent employment.

I am in despair, honestly. I am losing the will to write.

That spiralling fall, first a slow tumble that leads into a plummet. The lurching feeling constantly gnaws away at your stomach, a most unpleasant feeling of unease. That freefall, that pitfall — never a moment of respite and without the solace of knowing if it will end or not; so much worse than  a clean, quick splat.

But after a while, the numbness sets in, and no, you don’t stop feeling the attrition, but you get so used to it being there, you learn to ignore its presence, even as it eats away at you.

The hardest part is not feeling the rage, whenever you look at friends around you being on whatever path they’re on. Maybe they hate their jobs, maybe their lives are listless, but to your lenses fogged up by pain and sorrow, everything else seems cheerier than your own situation, wilfully so.

I am stuck: will writing help unwind me?

I am definitely at a low point in my life, and as I age, each low is a sink much lower than the previous. I have overcome the previous; will I succumb this time? Or emerge victorious, and look back upon this period with un-fond laughter?

I have so many things I wish to write, I have so many tabs on my browser opened with things I want to fill this blog with. Let this post be the key to let them all come in, once again.