I need my abibas

October 15, 2009

abibasIt was reported that the Singapore police busted two local syndicates involved in the sale of counterfeit goods. According to the Assistant Director of the Specialised Crime Division: “Police take a serious view of intellectual property rights violations, and will continue to take strict enforcement action, leveraging on intelligence and other capabilities, to clamp down hard on the sales and distribution of counterfeit goods in Singapore.”

I hope with all my heart he was joking. I mean if the police really took a serious view of intellectual property rights and counterfeit goods, what will we be left with?

The first to be arrested will be NTUC for the crime of imitating a labour movement. The next to go will be The Straits Times for being a counterfeit newspaper. In no time the police will be coming for Chinatown for imitating a vibrant authentic slice of immigrant history. What next? GRC PAP MPs for being counterfeit MPs because they were not voted in? Singapore politics for being an imitation democracy? Once you start, where do you end? Please Mr Policeman, for the love of god, stop your insanity!

Counterfeit goods are good. They make capitalism democratic. Everyone can now own a LV bag all for $20. We moan and groan about the widening wage gap, the gulf between the working class and the middle class, between the middle class and the rich, between the rich and the super rich, between the super rich and Singapore ministers, and yet we deny ordinary folks the vanity reserved for the well-heeled. Counterfeit goods are the laxative for a discontented people, they are the prosaic for teeth gnashers and if you think intellectual property needs to be protected you’re living in la-la land. Hollywood has been ripping off ideas from Hong Kong cinema for years, Oasis rips-off the Beatles for a living, Sumiko Tan rips-off the personality of vanilla ice-cream for her columns; the fact is, ideas are in constant circulation whether you like it or not.

The police should do the right thing. Lay off the counterfeit syndicates. They are more than just grubby fingers pushing Prada bags in dingy alleyways. They are merchants of the Singapore dream, a dream that is no longer attainable for the majority of us. And so these syndicates fill our veins with the opiate of designer brands and fantasies of luxury so that we may feel whole again. And what better place for the celebration of counterfeit goods than in an imitation nation?


2 Responses to “I need my abibas”

  1. sushibar Says:

    And what better place for the celebration of counterfeit goods than in an imitation nation?

    A fine conclusion.

  2. Anil Balchandani Says:

    welcome back. great piece

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