INT.OFFICE - MR TEO'S CUBICLE - LATE AFTERNOON
Ah Tan knocked before he walked into Mr Teo's cubicle. CJ was already seated in front of Mr Teo's desk. In the midst of flipping through some papers, Mr Teo gestured Ah Tan to sit down.
MR TEO: Tan, take a look at this. CJ's suggestion on how we should celebrate NDP this year.
Mr Teo handed the papers to Ah Tan. Hastily, Ah speedread through the papers.
CJ (to Ah Tan): This year's theme is "Come Together, Reaching Out, Reaching Up". As such, performances will focus on coming together as "one united people" to reach out to all Singaporeans, regardless of race, language or religion.
MR TEO: I like this idea. With the economic crisis and now swine flu happening, we need something to unite the people and make them one!
CJ: Yes! Make them act in unity!
AH TAN (chuckles): Eat together, sleep together, shit together?
MR TEO (sternly): It means when the country tell them one thing, they don't do or even think another way!
CJ (nodding): Unquestioning obedience.
Ah Tan raised his left eyebrow cynically.
CJ: I think it's an important opportunity for us to rally our people - not so much from a perspective of just coming to watch the show, but it's a journey for us to sit back and ask ourselves as a nation, as a people, as we struggle with adversity both personal and at the national level, how do we respond.
MR TEO: Yes! It is the opportunity for those people to repent. To think about occasions when how wrongly they had diverged when they should have just listened to and believed in the country, and all the decisions we have made for them!
AH TAN: I agree. And they should have trusted us in the investments we made, no matter how much losses we appeared to have made. After all, we made it through the Citibank investments, didn't we?
Both Mr Teo and CJ nodded in agreement.
MR TEO: So CJ, how much do you need? Mind you, we've just spent 6 millions for the Singapore Day in London, so it is unacceptable to spend less right here at home!
CJ (chuckles): Hahaha... Mr Teo, how can it even be possible? To spend just 6 millions for a major event like this?
All three men laughed but stopped abruptly when Mr Teo suddenly frowned.
MR TEO: But CJ, we must be mindful of the economic downturn too, you know? We must not let the people think that we're spending too lavishly at a time like this!
CJ: Don't worry about it, Sir. The budget for this year's celebrations is prudent. We'll try to recycle as much as possible. We're looking at managing some of the props we are using - how we can minimise in a more measured manner, how to reuse, how to make some of the props. So there are a lot of little things that we can do.
MR TEO (nodding): Good. Just keep in mind that we must spend more than 6 millions but not too much.
CJ: Yes Sir!
Susan knocked on Mr Teo's cubicle. Mr Teo signalled her to come into the cubicle. Susan then put a piece of paper on the desk and left. Mr Teo picked up the paper and read through it.
MR TEO: Hmm... this doesn't look very good.
AH TAN: What is it, Mr Teo?
MR TEO: THE unemployment rate for Singaporeans and permanent residents hit a five-year high of 4.8 per cent last month.
Both Ah Tan and CJ stared warily at each other.
MR TEO: CJ, this is critical now. You must ensure that the NDP is a real success this year. We want the people to make merry and forget about their troubles. About being jobless, about not able to feed their families. We want them to throw all these troubles behind their minds and feel happy for a day.
CJ: Yes Sir!
AH TAN: Mr Teo, I've got an idea. We should grant the jobless ones the precious opportunity to perform at the NDP! They could perform some mass dance and show the people how happy they are even though they are jobless! At the same time, this could keep them occupied and prevent them from grumbling about how the country has not helped them!
Mr Teo slapped his right palm on the table in excitment.
MR TEO: Good idea, Tan! CJ, write that down!
CJ: Yes Sir!
Tan Chuan-Jin,NDP 2009,National Day Parade,Jobless rate