Scenes 5 and 6

As this and previous scenes have attempted to show, while British colonialism as a formal system has receded, in many ways we still continue to play by their rules. In more frivolous (but no less important) examples, British sport continues to dominate much of the world and this is particularly striking in the popularity of cricket in South Asia, or football. (For good effect, the Football Association, who determined the rules of modern football in the 19th century, is referenced partly in Sarong Party with the invoking of the FA Cup hymn “Abide With Me”). In a more severe sense, many of Britain’s former colonies are bound by their inherited legal or political systems.

“Autochthony” is one of the big and fancy words we learnt while writing Sarong Party. It simply describes something that is native or originating from where it was found. As a legal concept pertaining to Singapore, it refers to laws or legislation that develops as a result of our culture, social, and political circumstances. Indeed, many have charted how Singapore has slowly evolved in an autochthonous fashion, away from its political, legislative, or legal British heritage.

Crucially, though, when it has suited various parties, these colonial legacies have been used as a way to cement power. Structurally, the Westminster parliamentary system we have inherited, coupled with a first-past-the-post electoral format, has enabled an effectively one-party rule for sixty years. With socially divisive issues, this heritage has again been used as a politically expedient strategy to avoid having to actively deal with something like Section 377A.

In Scene 5, we explore the physical legacy of these structures of power with the references to the Doric and Corinthian columns of judicial buildings of the past, as well as their more intangible instruments. A struggle breaks out between the band and chorus, as the former asserts its wish for true autochthony, and for archaic laws to have had their Indian summer, as some of the very things we derived from the colonial Indian penal code are dismantled in India itself. In Scene 6, though, there is a realization that the ambivalence with which we deal with our colonial baggage continues to affect us in the present, dividing peoples by their identities.

Scene 5: Lie Back and Think of England

Relax your mind now, darling,
Close your eyes
There’s nothing to fear
Don’t think a thing now, darling,
You’ll find there’s no bogeyman here
Play by their rules and their regulations
Bound by their laws
Lie back and think of England, darling,
You’ll never bring up the rearTied down to your Doric four post bed
Cuffed to a Corinthian fantasy
Autochthony is your safe word, darling,
You can try but you’ll never be completely freeThe blindfold’s unnecessary, darling,
Swords and scales won’t remain
The misc-en-scene has changed now, darling,
The Fostering is the same
And when it suits us, we’ll spring a surprise
Constitutional spice
Lie back and think of England, darling,
It’s never far from your eyes

Tied down to your Doric four post bed
Cuffed to a Corinthian fantasy
Autochthony is your safe word, darling,
You can try but you’ll never be completely free

You long for days of endless summer
But sunshine hides the clouds that portend
That
These games have had their Indian summer
And every day in the sun must end

Lock out the ghosts
Let the skeletons out

Scene 6: The Long Arm of the Law

The long arm of the law
Holds a knife over our heads
It swears not to swing but on a whim
It changes its melodyIt holds us apart
It holds us apart

The long arm of the law
Points a gun at our faces
It lowers its aim but with its might
It keeps us in its sights

It keeps us apart
It keeps us apart

I wish to hold your skin and bones
Make them something more than just the skeletons in my closet
And the long arm of the law
Won’t keep me away from you

And only in the night can I hold you
For the day brings swords
Though blunt
They could prick the bubbles of the world and
The wolves will enter
With barks worse than their bites
But still they smite these arms that hold you
And when other arms try to smother you
I will

Hold your skin and bones
Make them something more than just the skeletons in my closet
And the long arm of the law
Won’t keep me away from you

I wish to hold your skin and bones
Make them something more than just the skeletons in my closet
And the long arm of the law
Won’t keep me away from you