(More from the archives. Slight re-touching, and extension; the original was incomplete.)
(Or An Ekalavyan Analysis of A Singaporean White Elephant).
I used to have this neighbourhood kid as a friend, back when I was in school. Was a fun guy, really, we used to spend a whole lot of time chilling out at the neighbourhood hangout places, mostly trying to escape from his sister and my brother, who more often than not, often found common ground in irritating their elder brothers. Just this: he had terrible taste in movies, and used to inflict it on me. In particular, he often used to wonder why such profound works of art as Mission Impossible (1 and 2) never made it to the Oscars, while obviously lesser works of art like The Gladiator and (much later) LOTR did. Honestly, couldn’t help getting reminded of the guy when I was passing through Changi last week. That’s Changi The Airport, mind you, not Changi The Village, or Changi The Prison.
You see, the shtick is this. One of the perks of getting permanent residency in Singapore is a brand-new biometric-based ID card to enter and leave the island state. In theory, it’s supposed to spare you the queues at immigration; since the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority already knows you and your right-hand thumbprint, they don’t have to see your passport anymore, thereby bringing the convenience of an MRT fare-gate to an international border crossing. Minus your thumbprint, of course.
(Now I can’t rightfully recollect what the point of this stuble was, or why I called the biometric system as a ‘white elephant’, but clearly, I had high hopes for it, somehow connecting bad taste in movies to international diplomacy. Bears mention, though, that except for this one time when I took the train from KL to Singapore, I’ve always exitted and entered Singapore using the card.
Update [2006-8-4: 04:11PM] Electronic passports already hacked The US, Singapore and a surfeit of other countries were planning to use them from this quarter onwards)