Then, a colleague posed the following question to me, opening my eyes to the beauty of the light. He said—and I’ll never forget this—“Did you hear about Tosh Rock?”
And I replied—I’ll never forget this, either—“Is that igneous or metamorphic?”
His answer? “Sedimentary, my dear Watson.”
The silver screen, in the form of now-infamous director Jack Neo, stumbled across Tosh ‘Rock’ Zhang in 2012. His performance as a hard-bitten tough-as-nails platoon sergeant earned him the award of The New Paper’s Breakout Star that year. Smash cut to seven years later, and musician/actor Tosh is announced as one of Pink Dot’s ambassadors for 2019.
But who would have guessed that an actor who got his break playing an unapologetic hive of toxic masculinity would turn out to have espoused childishly homophobic views at roughly the same time?
The hubbub is now over, with Zhang’s social media suspension forming the final bookend for this chapter.
The question now is: Who will replace him? Who will be the Prince (or Princess, or Non-Binary Royal) that was promised? We’ve got a few ideas.
Plus, Sam isn’t your run-of-the-mill starving stand-up. He’s performed internationally, appeared on television, and most recently featured in an episode of Comedy Central’s hit Jim Jefferies Show.
Unlike other personalities, Sam never shies away from his sexuality. In fact, he may be a bit too gay for Pink Dot ambassadorship—enthusiastically watching gay anal fisting videos isn’t exactly the sort of behaviour you want out of someone meant to bridge the gap between Pink Dot and The Little Red Dot.
Then again, maybe such a shock is exactly what social conservatives need to be sufficiently jolted out of their prude woollen stockings.
My BMT Encik
At first glance, my encik appeared a strident homophobe, the very picture of patriarchal masculinity. He was old, boisterous, and rude, automatically placing him in a poor position to empathise with the suffering of others or adapt his thinking to the modern age.
But as I observed his habits, his behaviours—what made him tick—he began to display a more colourful side… dare I say, a more Pink side.
First off, my encik had a habit of pacing up and down the company while clutching his pace stick. Yes, he gripped his large teak phallus tightly, occasionally swapping it out for a darker shade of brown or even black. His skilled manipulation of that hinged rod; his hands, firm but with a feather-light touch; his penetrating manner of pointing and yelling with that hard wood, dominating the parade square—it smacked of acceptance.
Then there were his curious turns of phrase. He always referred to me and my bunk bed-mate as suckcock buddies, but without a hint of contempt or derision. Instead, he expected suckcock buddies to assist and support one another—a remarkably progressive stance on homosexual coupling.
My encik is a classic example of “don’t judge a book by it’s cover”, a man who accepts and cares for the gay community in National Service. He would make an excellent Pink Dot ambassador.
And to all those arguments, I say: so what? That just means good ‘ol Bill won’t be able to pull a fast one on us once he’s promoted.
After a long and successful career in the East India Company, Bill followed Raffles to Singapore, and was appointed First Resident (i.e. Guv’nor) of the new colony. Bill’s orders were simple: Follow Raffles’ plan, build Singapore as per his blueprint. With that, Raffles departed from the new colony.
Of course, when Raffles returned three years later, we all know what transpired: the argument, the falling-out, and the public dispute that lasted until after Raffles’ death, when Raffles’ widow published his memoirs and Billy-long-lived contested their accuracy in the press.
Yes, their bitter feud featured opium and prostitution, but it was largely over city planning. In short, Bill should be a Pink Dot ambassador, as he is best remembered for the most iconic gay break-up in Singapore history—all because two men could not agree on where to lay pipe.
Last week, LKY’s grandson, Mr Li Huanwu, got married to his partner, Dr Heng Yirui, in South Africa. His father, Lee Hsien Yang, remarked that “[LKY] would have been thrilled” at the announcement.
LKY was right about some things; he was also wrong about some things. But it is simply impossible to ignore the enormous weight his opinion has on any issue of substance in modern Singapore, simply out of respect for his tremendous role in shaping the nation. MM Lee had previously admitted to holding the belief that homosexuality was a matter of choice, only to change his mind over the years, after considering the weight of scientific opinion.
Perhaps it would not be the best fit for this year’s Pink Dot theme of ‘discrimination’, but Mr Huanwu’s ambassador-ship would be a constant reminder of the fact that attitudes in our city-state have changed, and continue to change from the bottom of the totem pole (Tosh ‘The Pebble’ Zhang) to the very top—those in the high halls of governance.
If MM Lee could change his mind, so can the rest of us.