Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Almost Infamous Special Edition - Death of a Gentleman

The first and only time I've been on the inside of the Istana was during Pre-U Sem. Yes, it was the same Pre-U Seminar where I asked nasty questions and hung out with the Fox.

Being the unmannered, uncultured plebians that we were, we had been asked to arrive at the Istana early. We were told to give then-President Wee grave respect befitting his station. We were told to address him as "Mr President, Sir". We were not told the horrifying consequences of our failure to address him thus. It was certainly effective.

About an hour after the final strains of "Heaven Knows" was performed impromptu at the lawn of the Istana by yours truly, President Wee appeared. Needless to say, everyone fought to appear as intelligent and poised as they could. School reputation on the line leh!

With so many of us tripping ourselves up to impress him, it was only a matter of time before someone made a faux pas.

"President Wee", the poor chap said, then stumbled to correct himself.

"Mr Wee". Sniggers

Nervous tension. "I mean...Mr President..." and as an afterthought, "Sir".

Against expectations, the Ettiquette SWAT Team did not descend in force to punish the heathen. Mr Wee smiled indulgently, eyes twinkling, and broke into a chuckle. Not a berating one. The kind that invites you to chuckle with him.

The tension suddenly disappeared. It was amazing.

Mr Wee's family has my deepest condolensces, as does Singapore. We have lost a great man and a true gentleman.

Farewell Mr Wee. You will be missed.

No comments: