Yellow Peril by Tze Ming Mok

Uncanny sites from the Other side

Ever suspect that the Tyrell Corporation is popping thousands of Mr Browns out of clone pods straight into country-specific political current affairs techie-geek blog stardom, with regionally appropriate names tacked on the front? Singapore hasn't even bothered to add the usual 'Kevin', 'Kelvin', 'Calvin', 'Steven', 'Martin', 'Marvin' or 'Mervin'.

Here he is: Singapore's Russell Brown. Mr Brown. Really. Mr Brown is Singapore's most popular and possibly longest-serving blogger (...after their version of Bizgirl of course, who just knocked him out of the water at the Asian bloggies. Well, I don't think Xiaxue is a real person...)

Like ours, Singapore's Mr Brown also has print-media interests, has been instrumental in setting up a Singaporean blog hub, and blogs personally on Singaporean life and times, other bloggers, techie geek developments, his partner of 16 years, his autistic kid, and as much on politics as is actually possible in Singapore without being sued for defamation.

'Uncanny' is the translation of Freud's notion of the Unheimlich - exactly like, yet not like, home. This particular incidence of uncanniness is strangely comforting for me - two versions of home have merged in a dreamworld. During this steaming Auckland subtropical summer just gone, the downtown CBD even smelt like the Singaporean monsoon season. Am I awake as I type?

Russell might find it a bit freaky though.

There are however, bits of Singapore that I and my parents would be pleased to leave in Singapore. Check out the original CNA story about the Singaporean blogger Acidflask who was threatened last week with a defamation suit for blogging. Here are some signs that you're in trouble because of your blog in Singapore, and Singapore Ink and Mr Brown's entries on and links to the ensuing blogosphere frenzy.

Being sued for defamation is the Singaporean version of the Sudanese State Security white pick-up truck pulling up outside your community centre, or the Public Security Bureau arriving suddenly in its Gong An vans on the Mainland. When you can sue for defamation, why bother with the handcuffs, electrodes and baseball bats? To give you an idea of what they like to sue for in Singapore: if an opposition politician suggests to an international newspaper that the Singaporean government stifles dissent through the use of its compliant judiciary, the government will utilise its compliant judiciary to uphold its own reputation, by suing for defamation, and winning.

So: the snake eats its own tail, and wonders why there's a rattle in its throat. Don Brash's favourite place, this.

Thanks to Angry Asian Man for the link to this article, which precipated all this Old Country net-communion. Do have a look at this interesting exchange between Simonworld (Hong Kong's Mr Brown) and Mr Brown on language, outlets for political and social expression, and waning colonialism - structured around a Hong Kong vs Singapore blogosphere throwdown.

It has given me great pleasure to give out these introductory calling cards of the English-language East and Southeast Asian blogosphere. But there's more that you're missing out on, which I can't help with at this stage. Like Mr Brown and others of the Singaporean 'ACS' school, "our Chinese very lousy." I sure as hell don't read Chinese language sites, especially not the old-form/fanti used in Hong Kong. Maybe this is a job for everyone's new favourite Wellingtonian ex-Howick Hongky 1.5er, Keith Ng, who can read and speak Chinese but not type it. Whereas I can speak and type Chinese, but can't read it. How is this possible? I will attempt to explain this further in an occasional forthcoming series of resource entries for the querulous invadee.

Singlish though, I can still dip into. I mean, all-da-time this grammar-grammar! Why you still talk so like dat-ah? Your dictionary so lagi-some-more?

Don't forget the banned film Singapore Rebel is playing this Friday at the Academy. Can't come is very rugi only.

New find: The maker of Singapore Rebel blogs on his ongoing troubles with the police here. His name is ...ahem ...Martyn.