Saturday, 14 February 2009

Jackie's Gift & Purple Haze

When Jimmy Hendrix wrote Purple Haze I am sure he had Singapore in mind. We have been mercifully free from this form of pollution in recent months, but over the past two weeks the smudged ring around the sun has signalled the return of the haze.

I have written about this problem before so will not burden the reader with another rendition. Suffice to say, the Indonesians take the money and run. They gladly accept foreign aid to tackle the problem of their farmers and plantation companies having massive burn-offs of vegetation but very little progress is made in actually combating this problem.

Jackie Chan is well known to movie fans around the world for his action films. He is a man with an interesting life story and I remember reading his biography when I first came to Singapore. While not a native of this country he has a huge following here, as well as in Hong Kong and China. Jackie in turn really enjoys Singapore and has significant property investments here. This week has made the country a very generous donation of heritage houses which he has stored in a Hong Kong warehouse and they are purportedly worth more than $S100 million.

The gift hasn't gone down well with the Hong Kong'ers (or "honkies" as they often referred to in Singapore) who perceive Singapore as having taken what should be rightfully their's to display.

This is a wonderful gift to the new university that the government is planning to open here, ironically on the very site of the failed UNSW Asia campus in Changi. Coming as I did to Singapore in 2006 to work for this defunct operation (which turned out to be a great Australian con job), I am delighted to see that the new university will have Jackie's heritage gift at its cultural heart.

As for those too young to know Hendrix, here is a video of the guitar maestro in action. But why oh why did we wear those terrible military uniform cast-offs back then!

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