Sunday, January 25, 2015

Haw Par Villa

When I was a small boy, Singapore to me was synonymous with my eldest brother Seng and Har Par Villa. Seng headed for Singapore after his junior high school. He was my hero then. There would always be goodies each time he returned home. Holidays meant spending a few days with him at his flat in Singapore.

Without fail he would take me to visit Har Par Villa each time I went to Singapore. It was in Har Par Villa that I learned the ‘ultimate price’ one had to pay if he did bad things in life. There was Heaven and there was Hell; we mortals were in between. Bad fellow would be sent to Hell for punishment and good fellows, a ride on the cloud to Heaven.

There were many levels of punishment in hell. If you told lies, your tongue would be cut off; if you did something evil, you got boiled in oil or your heart got dug off, so on and so forth. And of course, you could expect to be rewarded richly – the next life, of course – if you were filial, honest, charitable, righteous, etc.

I still remember I used to have nightmares each time I lied. I don’t believe in any of this stuff now, but the Dos and the Don’ts that I now practise actually began to take roots in me during these formative years of mine.

So when I saw the divine laws that were being zealously advocated by some quarters, I couldn’t help recalling the images I saw in Haw Par Villa. Transgressors of these laws would have to face the consequences in their next life, don’t they? So why are we bent on applying these laws to mortals now? Isn’t losing an arm or a hand or, for that matter, any body part in this life tantamount to – in my rudimentary understanding of fundamental justice and fairness – “double jeopardy”, since you have to be punished another time when you go to the next world? Shouldn’t we be judged by secular laws when we are alive and leave to the Higher Being up there to mete out divine punishments – if you have committed a divine sin?

But as AKK once said to me, “your brain is too small.”

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