You know how sometimes people do something that, at the time, they think is a very good idea? And then later on, they look back on it – usually through the lens of a photograph, or an unauthorised YouTube clip – and they’re flabbergasted? “What was I thinking? No, seriously. Please tell me!”
I’m wondering if the prime minister is thinking the same thing about his Facebook page.
“What is he doing?” Amanda asked when she first heard the news that her idol was now on Facebook. Her spoon hovered above her bowl of muesli as she stared at the newspaper article. “Why on earth does he want to be any closer to Singaporeans?”
I hesitated. “Uhm, so that he can find out what’s really going on at the grassroots level?”
Amanda looked as if someone had just presented her with a bra with three cups. “But why would he? That’s what the ministers are for. Isn’t that their job? And if he really wants to know what’s going on, he just has to read the newspapers. More to the point,” she added, her frown lines deepening, “there’ll be all sorts of riff-raff sending him all sorts of rubbish.”
From the corner of the sofa, Saffy piped up, “I’ve just invited him to dinner!”
Two heads swiveled around in her direction.
“Who?” I asked.
Saffy looked up from her iPad. “The prime minister! Wouldn’t be fab if he accepts?” She beamed.
“How did you…” Amanda began.
“I just sent him a message on Facebook! He doesn’t seem to be accepting any friends though, which is a bit rude.”
“Saf, the prime minister of Singapore,” Amanda said in the kind of tone you normally reserve for God’s voice in a biblical movie, “did not set up a Facebook account so that random people can invite him to dinner!”
Saffy’s chest inflated. Instinctively, Amanda and I drew back.
“First of all, I’m not random people. I’m one of his biggest fans. Second of all, let’s talk about random. This person just invited him to stay in their HDB flat. Seriously, what is he thinking? Why would you move out of the Istana to spend time in an HDB flat?”
“The PM doesn’t stay in the Istana…” Amanda began.
Saffy later said that Harvard really has a lot to answer for in giving Amanda a law degree. “She’s so literal!”
Her best friend Sharyn looked concerned. “She go see doctor, or not?”, a question that made Saffy blink.
“Why would she need to see a doctor?”
Sharyn paused as she rewound the conversation in her head. “I thought you say she had problem with her…down there?” Sharyn’s eyes pointed down towards her lap. Saffy and I followed her gaze.
The penny dropped because Saffy suddenly hissed, “Oh my God, literal, Sharyn, not her cli…”
“Aiyoh, why you so cheem, one?” Sharyn moaned, after Saffy had spent a few very graphic minutes explaining that literal was not an anatomical female part.
That evening, we came home to find Amanda glued to her laptop. Apparently, she’d spent the whole day reading through the thousands of Facebook comments on the prime minister’s page.
“Some people have just too much time on their hands,” she announced without the slightest hint of irony. “This person asked him if he agreed that there were poor people in Singapore! And this woman wants to get a job in a library so that she can write short stories for children and get paid lots of money. And another person asked him if he had any nice recipes to share!”
“Did he reply to my dinner invitation?” Saffy asked. Sometimes I think Saffy is actually deaf and has to read people’s lips to understand what they’re saying. Only she doesn’t, because she’s also very short-sighted.
Somewhere out there, at the end of a long day running the country, I’m trying to imagine the prime minister in his study, scrolling down his Facebook page while scratching his head and thinking, “God, what was I thinking?”
Especially when he’s reading posts like this: “Hi Sir, I think our property prices has reached bubbly levels” and “My previous post had been deleted, as usual.....Anyway, i want to draw my MY MY MY CPF Money at age 55.....Can or not?”
Saffy thinks that the last post was written by Sharyn.
“Where got?” Sharyn demanded hotly.
“Well, it sure sounds like you!”
“Choy! I am not 55, ok?!”
Saffy leaned over the table and gently patted Sharyn’s hands. “You should put that on your Facebook page, Sharyn. Really. You should.”
“Or better yet,” Amanda sang out from the other room, “tell the prime minister! See how much he cares!”