Why was Ivan Heng watching TV on New Year's Eve?

SURPRISING: Why wasn't Heng enjoying himself at some fabulous party on New Year's Eve? PHOTOS: THE STRAITS TIMES
Why was Ivan Heng watching TV on New Year's Eve?

WON OVER: The Wanted sang We Own The Night, their best song ever, on the New Year's Eve show and, at the stroke of midnight, gained a new fan in the writer. So it was Hello, 2014. Goodbye, the Harry Styles poster on his bedroom wall.


    Jan 06, 2014

    Why was Ivan Heng watching TV on New Year's Eve?

    WHY does it always seem that everyone is having more fun than me?

    I didn't attend any New Year's Eve party last week, even though there were parties all over Singapore.

    You know what I was doing? I was at home, playing mahjong with my wife and two teenage kids.

    (You see, the Government had the foresight to tell us to stop at two kids decades ago because a family of four is the perfect number of people to play mahjong.)

    But you know what is worse than playing mahjong with your wife and two kids at home on New Year's Eve while everyone else is partying and enjoying the fireworks?

    It's playing mahjong with your wife and two kids at home on New Year's Eve and LOSING.

    I lost so badly that, for Chinese New Year, I expect my kids to give me a hongbao instead.

    Not that we played for money. That would be wrong.

    So to distract myself from another losing hand, I turned on the TV for the Channel 5 countdown show a few minutes before midnight.

    I was just in time to catch the performance of UK boy band The Wanted, who are supposedly in a feud with another UK boy band, One Direction.

    I used to prefer 1D, but their last few singles kinda sucked. (I'm bracing myself for the hate mail from Directioners in my inbox)

    Then on the New Year's Eve show, I heard The Wanted sing We Own The Night and it's their best song ever. And that Siva Kaneswaran is such a hottie.

    So at the stroke of midnight, the new year began with one new The Wanted fan - me.

    Hello, 2014. Goodbye, the Harry Styles poster on my bedroom wall.

    So I was rather surprised to read about theatre veteran Ivan Heng slamming the countdown show on Facebook.

    Calling the show "cheena", Heng wrote: "I kept flipping channels to double-check to see if I was watching Channel 8 or CTV. Jack Neo and Zoe Tay wished me Happy New Year in Mandarin, and Wang Lee Hom took to the stage as the main act. Wake up your ideas, MediaCorp."

    He neglected to mention The Wanted, who are not"cheena" at all. In fact, Siva Kaneswaran is half Indian.

    Even MediaCorp-owned Today newspaper reported that the countdown show was "conceived as a multi-lingual, multi-cultural show to reflect Singapore's multi-cultural heritage".

    But Heng wasn't the only one who complained about the over-Chineseness of the show.

    Another widely shared Facebook post criticising MediaCorp by a Mr Ravi Samuel called the show "a linguistic assault on the non-Chinese and non-Chinese- speaking among us".

    A blogger, Mr Abdillah Zamzuri, wondered if "this was the intended direction of the leadership - to move Singapore towards a more China-based or Chinese-speaking audience".

    That would explain MediaCorp organising the Chinesey-sounding "Hong Bao Run" next month.

    And what about playing mahjong on New Year's Eve? That's so "cheena" too.

    But you know what surprises me most about Heng's Facebook post?

    The 50-year-old founding artistic director of Wild Rice theatre company, who was awarded the Cultural Medallion last year, has been known to throw some fabulous parties where he usually dressed up as a woman.

    How is it that this Wild Rice and crazy guy has nothing better to do on New Year's Eve than watch the boob tube?

    What is he - me?

    But being a bachelor, Heng doesn't even have a wife and kids to play mahjong with. So maybe I had more fun than at least one person in Singapore on New Year's Eve.

    He could be a Directioner.