Thanks, Anton Casey!

READ MY BOOK: The writer is glad that Casey's gaffe has helped plug his first book, and made him - and other well-behaved expats - look good.


    Feb 03, 2014

    Thanks, Anton Casey!

    I WAS waiting for my father inside a British supermarket on the day of my grandmother's funeral, when I spotted a familiar face.

    It was Ms Bernice Wong.

    The former Miss Singapore was smiling at me from the pages of a British newspaper.

    "I don't believe it," I exclaimed. "I know that woman!"

    "Of course you do," my dad replied. "It's your sister."

    "No, not her...Her! There, on the front page of that newspaper."

    My father stared at the photograph.

    "I wish I knew her too, son."

    Even on the day of his mother's funeral, my father isn't one to lose perspective.

    I read the story and remembered where I knew Ms Wong.

    Back in 2003, I covered her beauty pageant, writing humour columns about the Miss Singapore contest. I was never short of material. When you're dealing with folks whose idea of an existential crisis is losing an eyelash curler, punchlines are pretty easy to come by.

    I'd be lying if I said I remembered chatting with Ms Wong. And I'm certain she wouldn't remember me. I used public transport every day, for a start.

    As Briton Anton Casey's dramatic fall from grace unfolded in Singapore, I had sensed something was brewing from afar, as unusual tweets began appearing on my Twitter feed.

    One kind Singaporean soul said: "Why can't more ang mohs be like Neil Humphreys?"

    Another tweeted: "Anton Casey should read chapter 14 from Neil Humphreys' first book."

    I wholeheartedly agreed, without having the slightest recollection of what chapter 14 was about.

    So I called my mother, who has a photographic memory for such things.

    "Chapter 14...I hope it's not the chapter where you get chased by a prostitute in Geylang. That chapter brought shame to the family," she said.

    "Mum, I'd have to be photographed with farmyard animals to bring shame to our family."

    "Hey, I still believe those pictures of your cousin were Photoshopped...Right, chapter 14...

    Ah, here we are...it's about expats...What have you done now? Whatever it is, blame it on your cousin."

    I didn't need to blame anyone. Mr Casey had accepted the blame for his insensitive, idiotic comments from his comparatively safe haven of Perth.

    But the knives were out. Expats had targets on their backs.

    "I bet you're glad to be here with me right now," my father said.

    "Dad, we're standing at your mother's funeral."

    "Yeah, I know. But expats back in Singapore are about as popular as a fart in a spacesuit."

    But there's no doubt that the Porsche-driving, wealth fund-managing, champagne-swilling expats are the red-faced elephants in the room.

    Honestly, perversely, I'm delighted that the buffoonery of one bubble-dwelling expat has dragged the stubbornly persistent "wealth is right" issue back into the spotlight.

    Cultural snobbery and insensitivity in expatriate circles has softened in the last decade, but the problem hasn't gone away.

    A few weeks ago, I foolishly watched The Wolf Of Wall Street in the Central Business District and found myself surrounded by expat bankers cheering at the vulgar displays of greed on screen.

    It was like a chimps' tea party with Rolex watches.

    Their Planet Of The Apes audition - along with Mr Casey's outbursts - show that lessons must still be learnt.

    So I'd like to thank Mr Casey for making me - and every other guest who behaves appropriately in someone else's house - look good.

    Thanks, too, for the inadvertent book plugs on Twitter.

    Incidentally, I've also written a novel on match-fixing and sales are flagging in Australia.

    So if Mr Casey could also fix a few games while he's in Perth, I'd really appreciate it.