AOPAD (13): Threesome

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Wa kwa salah. At the library and spotted this from afar and thought it’s the one which opened Penguingate. Had less than zero idea you can knit pengiuns.

p/s: Ade spotted something even better – the tagline “From Flat to Fabulous”. It’s a conspiracy, I tell you. This book’s going to get banned..

[Image description: A squarish book standing upright on a shelf, with the title “Knit A Square: Create a Cuddly Creature” at the top and the phrases “From flat to fabulous” and “A step-by-step guide” at the bottom. Book photography shows three black and white penguins, two standing with flippers extended and one on its belly, also with flippers extended.]

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“You have no rights.”

Yonks ago, I watched Les Miserables at West End with my minion Fats. (A shout-out to Ah Poh and Jenson for hosting us in the UK, without which we’d be on the streets and Fats would have starved. Those were the days when a pound bought you three-plus Singapore dollars.) We got last-minute tickets befitting our financial straits.

I didn’t know the story – only that it was some famous musical – nor could I understand what was happening on stage. But the songs and costumes and spectacle and the awesome sets (the towering barricades!) stayed with me. And I fell in love with Eponine too (lest it be said I am flower heart, this was at least seven years before I ran into Rose on another stage).

Recently I caught the 2013 Hollywood version, the one with Wolverine and Maximus as the leads. (By the way, I also like the Eponine here more than I do Cosette.) And these lines struck me.

JAVERT
Men like me can never change.
Men like you can never change.
No, 24601!
My duty is to the law.
You have no rights.
Come with me, 24601!

p/s: My favourite song? ‘A little fall of rain’. I’m sentimental. So?

Q&A with the Straits Times

A journalist from the Straits Times, Tan Sue-Ann, contacted me about that by-now-infamous-and-taken-down video. She had questions; I had opinions.

For the record, here is my reply to the questions she asked.

Update (5 December 2017): The news report “The deaf community sees red over signs” has been published.


First, I’ll like to make it clear this is my opinion and I speak only for myself, and do not represent any organisation or community.

<<Snipped – request to preview what would be published pertaining to my reply>>

>> 1. What was Channel 8’s error? Ie. Different sign language systems, using the term “deaf-mute”?

Definitely upsetting was the usage of the term ‘deaf mute’. (I understand written and spoken Chinese.)

Secondly, the sign language used and demonstrated on the programme was, in many ways, not those actually used by Deaf persons among themselves in daily conversation and other settings. Also, I would say Deaf people who use sign language tend to be patient and close an eye or take the time to gently correct when hearing people attempt to sign with them and get some signs wrong. In this case, what gets our goat is seeing people who are not deaf and who are not well versed in sign language (as it is used in real life) going on TV to ‘teach’ sign language to the public.

>> 2. Why is this issue important to the deaf community? Are there terms used in one kind of sign language that are inappropriate in another?

Well. Being having one’s language distorted and misrepresented, and being wrongly portrayed is cause for concern.

Re: terminology. Deaf people (ie. those with hearing loss) are not mute. Their vocal cords are functional, they can speak, they can use their voice. So it is self evident why the term ‘deaf mute’ is inaccurate and offensive. It also perpetuates the misconception and false stereotype of deaf people as mute. Note some deaf people choose not to use their voice for speech (for various reasons). That, however, is not the same as being physically unable to speak or use their voice.

>> 3. What should hearing people know about the deaf community? Ie. What sort of terms to avoid using, what sort of sign language they use?

Well, deaf people are people, first and foremost. Just like everyone else.

Never use the term ‘deaf and dumb’ or ‘deaf and mute’.

So what to call them? Preferably by their names. : )

If we mean how to describe their hearing loss, simple – ask them what they prefer. Some may say they are ‘deaf’, some may say they are ‘hearing impaired’, some may say they are ‘hard of hearing’. Whatever. Just describe them the way they describe and identify themselves as.

And if we are describing deaf persons who use sign language as their ‘mother tongue’ and possess a sense of culture and community bonded by sign language, use the word Deaf (capital D) to describe them.

>> 4. What are the challenges you’ve encountered as a deaf/HOH person? Ie. People in public who don’t understand sign language or the different varieties?

Challenges: Lack of empathy and patience. I don’t need or demand or ask people to know sign language. I simply need them to communicate in the ways which are accessible to me and which they also can do – such as writing (emails), typing (text messages, on paper), and, sometimes, something as simple as moving to a more quiet place so I can hear them better and with less difficulty using my hearing aids.

>> – were there times when people used the wrong sign language with you or with others?
5. What more can be done to educate the public?

Again, it’s not about the usage of wrong or right sign language. I addressed this in question 1.

For one, the mainstream media has to be responsible in ensuring they use accurate and respectful terminology to describe people with disabilities (including the deaf).

Blatant

“Wham is recalcitrant and has repeatedly shown blatant disregard for the law, especially with regard to organising or participating in illegal public assemblies.” – Singapore Police Force

There are laws and there are laws.

There are laws which are blatantly unjust and unbalanced and disproportionately harsh. There are laws which are bad for individuals, for communities, for families, for the country, for whatever building block of society you care to name. There are laws which lead to dangers in the short term and disaster in the long run.

Surely they know? Surely they must know – up there in their abodes with panoramic 360-degree helicopter views.

Lis Mizurables, 2010

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If you’ve read the essay, you might have wondered. The ladies exist and are actually a less miserable and more cheerful duo in person. Picture a dusty Dili circa 2010. Lisa and Mizuho were backpacking Southeast Asia and traipsing about town and asking about local deaf people. So we found one another and ended up puffing away (not me), arguing with a tazi driver over the fare (not me), climbing to Cristo Rei effortlessly (not me), getting tipsy (not me?), and reminiscing about our adventures (not stuck-in-Dili me) and exciting lives (not born-and-bred-in-Singapore me).

[This is a new series about friendship – via capsule semi-fiction of exactly 100 words and the unsealing of long-sealed secrets.]

Photo of the year

I wasn’t asked for my O and A level certificates this time, which came as a pleasant surprise. But I was still required to bring along my original National Service certificate of service – the one which has gone MIA for years. Anyway, I don’t know if it should be a matter of pride or a sore point that, so far, I’ve never been accepted for a job in the civil service, despite at least a dozen interviews over the years. Maybe I am neither civil nor servant enough (like Philip Yeo.. though, wait! He was a civil servant!)

In other news, the endless year of tuition for my PSLE kid paid off – for her (she made it) and for me (financially).

To end on an irrelevant note, I love the mustache. (Please ignore the chap in front who’s trying to divert attention from my magnificent mustache.)

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“Airway. Breathing. Compression.”

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About five years ago, I saw an elderly man take a hefty tumble and landing, and gashed his knee. Passers-by stopped to help, checking he was conscious and giving tissue to stem the blood flow and calling his family who lived nearby. I stayed with him till his daughter arrived.

Two years later, I was on a bus minding my own important business when it approached a bus stop. And there, lying on the ground, face down, was a young chap, with a pool of blood on the ground. I got off the bus, went to him, tapped his shoulder, called out, and with the help of passers-by, turned him over, assisted him to sit up, as he slowly regained consciousness. Then I ran to the police station two bus stops away. The ambulance arrived, the policeman took my statement, etc.

When the incidents happened, I felt helpless. I had no idea what to do, and what not to do. (An interesting observation: No panic on my part. I was surprisingly zen. I think when an emergency happens – and the bad stuff is not happening to ourselves – the average person tends to be calmer than they think they would be.)

There and then, I decided to learn first aid.

There and later, I promptly forgot all about it.

Today, I did it, like, finally – thanks to my steely resolve and iron will. A couple weeks ago, a colleague dropped out of the first aid course the school had signed the staff up for, and I was asked to be the substitute.

Now I’m a certified first aider. If anyone kena cuts, bruises, fractures, burns, sprains, near drownings, hyperventilating, whatever – just call me.

Ok. Maybe not.