Pangolins in the city
March 2008: No, you won’t find pangolins having a drink at Zouk and other watering holes for night critters in Singapore.
“This reptile-like mammal (alias Manis javanica) is nocturnal, its diet consists of termites and ants and their larvae,” according to the 2007 Singapore Stamp Album. It is still widespread but rare on Singapore island. Slow on the ground, many pangolins are killed by traffic when crossing the road at night.
Although the album doesn’t specify who the pangolin killers are, there are plenty of newspaper reports on drunk drivers leaving a watering hole and then smashing their cars onto old people slowing crossing the road.
The stamp above may be a message from the Post Office that alcohol-soaked motorists should reduce their number of road kills, so that old people do not become as rare as pangolins in Singapore.
Another unusual creature which exists only in stone, is also depicted in the 2007 collection: the Merlion. To my father and the older generation, it is a sick joke created by some copy writer, but now hyped by the tourism authority as the icon of Singapore.
As my father pointed out, the Merlion is a fish tail with a lion’s head grafted to it. It has no legs to move on land, nor fins to move in the water. All it does is to wriggle upright on a rock and pee from its mouth. What can be more helpless?
Other rare creatures of Singapore are the Giant Squirrel (only two were spotted in 1997 and none since then) and the Banded Leaf Monkey (about 20 are left in the nature reserve).
The male Crimson Sunbird (scroll down to see) has been voted as the national bird in an unofficial survey, because its head represented the "little red dot", a term of insult hurled by some Malaysian and Indonesian politicians at Singapore but which Singaporeans, with their warped humour, have since adopted as a fitting description.
Finally, another group of rare creatures depicted are wedding couples dressed in traditional Chinese, Malay and Indian bridal finery (bottom of screen). Most young people on their wedding day don't wear costumes but dress like angmohs, the groom in suit and the woman in a low-cut white gown (even if she doesn’t have any silicon valley) and lace.