SDN: State’s Dating Nanny
October 18, 2009
Now that SDU has merged with SDS to form SDN, civil servants involved in this amalgamation must form an orderly queue at the edge of the Bukit Timah Quarry and jump to their deaths. Those that survive the fall will be beaten with baseball bats. After 24 years, the best name these civil servants can come up with is SDN? And if they expect single Singaporeans to sign up in droves they must be smoking something pretty illegal. Any advertiser worth his salt will tell you it’s all about branding. Your brand must stand for something. Nike stands for cool, Samsonite for reliability, and Prada for ‘piss off, why are you even looking at me?’.
What does SDN stand for? A rom-com marathon at home on a Saturday night with your best friends Ben & Jerry? The only single folks who would be interested in an outfit like SDN are the aesthetically and constipationally challenged. But enough about the PAP Youth Wing. The point is, unless some effort is made to make SDN cool, sexy or desirable – all alien concepts to the civil service – you’re going to end up with the same problems SDU and SDS faced – graduate women won’t look at non-graduate men, non-graduate men will chase Vietnamese farm girls, while everyone only joins to get a piece of the great discounts on wine-tasting courses.
It’s time SDN re-brands itself. It’s time it makes big promises to its clients. For starters it can re-make itself, Singapore style; that is, change the name and leave the content exactly the same. Some suggestions: Social Enhancement Xtreme (SEX); or Organisation of Recreation, Games And Social Meets (ORGASM), or Quality Unions, Improved Couplings and Kinky Intimate Exchanges (QUICKIE). Imagine the soaring membership! It’s all about promises.
SDN is also about broken promises. What happened to the government’s promise to stay out of any business that could be found in the Yellow Pages? There are scores of dating agencies in the Yellow Pages so what’s the point of SDN?
But if the government is serious about getting singles hitched it has to stop acting like damn nanny. The single biggest obstacle to getting the SDN right is the fact that it’s conceived and implemented by a civil servant whose idea of an exciting night would be dimming the lights to watch Drag Me to Hell…. on mute….naked…eagle spread….with the fore-mentioned Ben & Jerry’s smeared all over his body. Would you be able to resist stabbing him for the sake of the local gene pool? Would the government ever grow the balls needed tackle real-life challenges? It can begin by granting a tax incentive to graduate women who marry non-graduate men, giving subsidies to men in the market for Vietnamese, PRC, Myanmar or Cambodian brides, cordoning off nightspots for SPGs and Caucasian men, legalizing porn and civil unions (married gays and lesbians will bring down the singles figures), and introducing doubles pole-dancing and making naked belly-dancing a national sport.
Times have changed and as usual the government is huffing and puffing behind like Moses Lim chasing a doughnut. Coupling in the 21st century has undergone a democratization process. People below 30 hardly ever begin relationships in institutional spaces like work, church or government-sponsored cattle auctions anymore. They begin with chance meetings in bookshops, spas, clubs, cyberspace and darken toilets in East Coast Park at car park ‘C’. The SDN is as relevant to young singles as P65 MPs are to hip-hop.
But the state will never learn. It’s in its nature to coerce, regulate and implement. And it’s in our nature to ignore it.