Tag Archive | "trinetta chong"

Thanks Trinetta, for not standing on ceremony!

Thanks Trinetta, for not standing on ceremony!

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Valedictorians have a lot to live up to. You just upped the ante.

By Belmont Lay

The view from the stage is surprisingly good. You can tell who is actually sleeping or iPhoning.

Hello Trinetta, you seriously did a John Cleese!

With just one word, you managed to turn cultured, sterile and dreary pomposity on its head.

And provided a spot of fun and spontaneity to the proceedings.

I should know because three weeks ago, I was invited back to NUS (my alma mater) to sit on stage and watch this year’s commencement ceremony.

Despite me being a dunce, the organisers made me wear a Zorro-meets-burrito-seller hat and shoulder-padded blue graduation gown, which was what the rest of the uberacademics and professors were wearing (in some form or another).

Sharing the dubious and undeserved honour of being on stage with all these beautiful minds made it fun and novel for me!

But can I say everyone else in that auditorium being a graduand or watching the commencement was having a ball of a time as well?

Certainly not!

From where I was seated on stage, I could see the audience in various states of concussion, with many others passing in and out of consciousness.

And this was only after the first invited speaker took over the microphone!

Many others were madly molesting their iPhones, obviously Angry Birding.

Still more others were in a state of fantasy, while several were displaying classic signs of incontinence: Fidgety, crossing their legs and trying not to grimace.

Last but not least, I could tell from the faces of some who were trying to will themselves to die or for the ceiling to collapse. So they could find an excuse to leave.

But because of valedictorians like you, you turned uneventful into memorable.

I remember two years ago when I was attending my commencement ceremony, the valedictorian from my batch executed a sleight of hand.

He had submitted his pre-written speech for vetting to whoever gets paid in the university to vet stuff, abiding by the standard protocol.

But being the cheeky bastard he is, he did the classic switcheroo: He pulled another script from his pants on the actual day of commencement and went on stage to give a speech that was completely different from what had been pre-written and approved. (Now I’m seriously thinking this kind of thing happens more often than people realise.)

The point is that he knew he could get away with it, saying what was not pre-arranged, veering away from the beaten path of approved boringness.

And there was absolutely nothing anyone could do about it.

Think about it: When given the chance to amaze, bamboozle, showboat and wow the bejesus out of your audience, why would anyone play it THAT safe?

What was the Dean to do? Withhold his degree? Call the police? Radio campus security?

Think about it: When given the chance to amaze, bamboozle, showboat and wow the bejesus out of your audience, why would anyone play it THAT safe?

Isn’t it worse to bore your listeners to death? Isn’t that a greater disservice?

Boredom is offensive to people, especially those like me, you know.

Boredom is the most intolerable form of death besides being burnt at the stake.

If I had to choose between death by boredom or castration, I’m inclined to pick the latter.

Even better still: Lock me in a room facing a wall for 24 hours with only bread and a dish of water as accompaniment.

And if you dare let me out: I’ll cave in and admit with gay abundance to all 17 counts of unsolved homosexual rape in the last five years.

Simply because I hate catching a case of boredom. It’s more deplorable than Ebola.

Therefore, what’s wrong with pushing the envelope and being spontaneous?

Some people, like this Bennie Cheok guy find time in their day to be professionally displeased enough to write to The Straits Times forum page decrying how using an expletive is “unnecessary”.

I believe Siew Kum Hong said the same too when interviewed by The New Paper.

Whether it is “necessary” or not is besides the point!

Come on! How many things in life are truly necessary besides breathing, drinking and eating?

I say: Blurting out what traditionally shouldn’t be said or done should be the new tradition set by valedictorians.

If you can’t or wouldn’t do it, you shall be roundly booed off stage by your peers.

So here’s the point of today’s missive: You just got to know when to break the rules some times.

So Trinetta, all I can say is that you got it refreshingly right (Which is why you got that rapturous applause!).

For that, thank you fucking very much.

F-word was no big deal

F-word was no big deal

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Harmless speech by a NTU valedictorian blown out of proportion by sensationalist media and moral police.

By Terence Lee

“WE FUCKING did it!”

I can’t imagine how that swear word, spoken at the end of a valedictorian speech by Trinetta Chong in Nanyang Technological University, could create such a media circus and capture the attention of the entire nation (almost).

The news report made the front page Lianhe Wanbao, a trashy Chinese tabloid, followed by The New Paper, well-known for twisting facts and misquoting interviewees. Soon, people all over the Internet were yakking about it.

I was there when it happened, as one of the happy graduates donning the silly gown and mortar board. I honestly wasn’t offended by the speech and — gasp — I even felt it was appropriate and resonated well with the students.

(Wan Bao headline: Caucasian professor supports vulgar-mouthed girl. Quote: Using the F-word was not a big issue)

Save for the speech and the moment my fellow cohorts went up to receive their transcripts, I found the entire ceremony dreary and overly formal. At the beginning, the professors walked in line at an excruciatingly slow pace to the sound of regal music —  five minutes was what it took to get from the back of the hall to the stage.

The national anthem played twice, once at the beginning of the proceedings and another at the end, like assembly in secondary school. How nolstalgic.

It took some crazy students to shake things up with their on-stage antics and make the event less like a ceremony and more like a party. And the speech brought the event to its appropriate climax.

Not everyone was pleased, of course, and Wan Bao capitalized on this with their report questioning the use of the swear word. Predictably, some parents complained, which was not entirely unexpected. Some members of the public chimed in too, complaining about how inappropriate it was.

What we’re seeing is a clash of values: Between a dressed-down faction less accustomed to arbitrary rules of behavior and our buttoned-up, more traditional peers and predecessors who are used to obeying such regulations and seeing it enforced. We saw it manifested in the ceremony itself. Clearly, the attendees have divergent visions about what a convocation is about, and both the student body and university administration tried to define it in their own terms.

The speech encapsulated what people like us have been feeling for a long, long time: That we feel constrained and helpless in a regimented society governed by arbitrary rules that make no sense; and that we admire that someone, who even for the briefest of moments, dared to rebel.

The difference is in some ways generational, with the the younger, millennial generation  much less tolerant of customs and traditional rules. Perhaps the younger folks have come to see how hypocritical many rule enforcers really are.

Our generation has witnessed how religious authorities, particularly certain Roman Catholic priests, have time and again succumbed to predatory sexual behavior despite their own strict code of conduct.  Or cue politicians who preach one thing but do another. Or our local media, who in this instance sensationalized what was essentially a harmless incident into the Greatest Moral Crisis of the Century — all for the sake of feeding their fat, overweight, coffers.

There’s no mistaking the fact that us millennials  do have morals, but instead of one code of conduct, we have codes of conduct.

We’re a generation that is more tolerant of differences, but less tolerant of conformity. Standing out is the new cool, which was why we gave the valedictorian a standing O. We are far more adept at seeing beyond the rules of society, and peer into its soul. In other words: Authenticity rocks, hypocrisy doesn’t. Honestly, has The New Paper done any better by using ‘f**king’ as opposed to ‘fucking’ (or f*cking, for that matter)? Is there really any difference at all? Who defines these rules anyway, and who is to say what is right and what isn’t?

So far, reactions by my peers to these media reports have been defiant. And judging by the reactions on the Internet, it looks like most people of my generation don’t really think it’s a big deal either. In fact, the speech and media coverage that followed probably inspired more swearing.

Beyond just being great fun, I felt the speech encapsulated what people like us have been feeling for a long, long time: That we feel constrained and helpless in a regimented society governed by arbitrary rules that make no sense; and that we admire that someone, who even for the briefest of moments, dared to rebel.

The sad reality is that many of us would most probably leave that spirit behind the moment we step into the workforce and become part of the very system that we find so restraining, or when we raise kids of our own and find ourselves needing to enforce rules that our kids will one day fight against.

Or we could choose to do otherwise.

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