Going home

In a friend’s car on the way home tonight, we spent the first few minutes puzzling over why Class 95FM was playing what sounded like Kenny G. A quick scan through the other local radio stations turned up equally muzak-ish tunes being played on 987FM, Lush 99.5 (“I can’t bop my head to this music,” my friend complained) and every other station.

“Oh, this is from Somewhere in Time,” the friend who was driving figured out, identifying the tune playing on Lush 99.5. Which definitely didn’t make it head-bopping music.

A couple of minutes later, the theme from Braveheart took over. “Did all the MediaCorp DJs decide to take a smoke break at the same time and leave the stations spinning music on auto?” I kidded from the back seat.

Some fifteen minutes: “This is like the elevator ride from hell,” quoth the husband. And then he made the connection: “Are they playing all this because Rajaratnam died today? Because the last time they did this was when Benjamin Sheares passed away…”

The station announcement that came on just then confirmed his guess. “As a mark of respect for Mr S. Rajaratnam, one of the founding fathers of Singapore, all MediaCorp stations will interrupt their usual transmission until 11:30pm.”

Mystery solved.

As the husband observed, it’s been a long time since they pulled out all the stops for the passing of one of Singapore’s political leaders. Flying the flag at half-mast is par for the course, whether you’re former President Ong Teng Cheong or former President CV Devan Nair. But former Deputy Prime Minister Rajaratnam’s body will also lie in state at Parliament House on Friday, where Singaporeans can pay their last respects, and will receive a state funeral at the flashy new arts venue, the Esplanade, on Saturday. Not that Rajaratnam doesn’t deserve it. It’s just been a long time since the government pulled out all the stops like this.

A man passes, a generation evanesces.

For those who need a short primer on Rajaratnam’s contributions to Singapore, here’s the Channel NewsAsia obituary.

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