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Cooling-Off Day

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  221 ratings  ·  36 reviews
In the electrifying months leading up to the watershed 2011 General Elections and in the tumultuous months after, playwright Alfian Sa’at interviewed Singaporeans to discover their responses to the elections.

Covering a wide social and political spectrum, the candid interviews capture the GE experience through the voices of individual Singaporeans — from election candidates
Paperback, 148 pages
Published 2012 by Ethos Books
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ash | spaceyreads
Aug 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: singlit
We read Cooling-Off Day for a book club session with No Readgrets, a local book club. This is a month after a hastily announced 2020 General Elections, smack-bang in the middle of the lockdown, the mask-wearing, the solo trips to the supermarket, the work zoom calls, the frantic election fever with a significant swing towards the opposition, the unapologetic appearances by our Minister of Manpower sweeping aside human rights concerns for migrant workers in Singapore, the feverish social media po ...more
Mar 06, 2022 rated it really liked it
very fun read! my favourite parts:
- we have to ride on their shoulders
- because there’s this deep hunger: “it’s a hunger that bread and butter will not satisfy”
- we have set the agenda
- 81 out of 90: statistical manipulation speedrun
- hottest head of state 🌟
- my secret
- there’s no such thing as being apolitical
- 水高了,我就跟着上去 (this in particular is interesting because at first i thought: why not 水涨船高? but then there’s also the saying 水能载舟,亦能覆舟——usually the govt is compared to the boat and the peop
Theo Chen
Aug 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: plays
It was such a fabulous play - I learnt so much.
Amira MT
Sep 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Alfian is the voice of our generation.
Hazeera Bi
Nov 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful, wonderful book. Makes you really think. Provides a surprisingly balanced viewpoint of what we experience in the singaporean political landscape.
Aug 28, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: must-reads, 2021, plays
favourite pieces:
- an adult version of ourselves
- there's no such thing as being apolitical
- this is not your place anymore
- you cannot sustain the heart
- and the word is 'kiasu'
Aug 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Here is my #bookreview of 'Cooling Off Day' by Alfian Saat 📕 The moment I finished this play, I wanted to review it and talk about it to everyone I know!! It is a VERY important read 💡⁣

This is a play about Singapore, in all of its richness and multiple perspectives, on the one essential human right in a democratic system: voting 🗳 In SG, we are given a day to literally "cool off" and gain our rationality before we vote (cause yknw, voting is a rational act right?? 🤔 lol) After the 2011 election
Jul 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
"Because there's this deep hunger
To be part of the political process
To register your voice
To speak up and be counted.

And it's a hunger that
Bread and butter
Will not satisfy."
Fun(?) fact: Public servants must not blog, post, or publish their political opinions. So there's really no need to assume an individual is apathetic about politics simply because nothing appears on his/ her Facebook or IG stories and posts. According to Gov.sg, 'the day before Polling Day is known as Cooling-Off Day. There
Jul 14, 2021 rated it really liked it
I think this book caters to a wide range of audiences, and you can see yourself in some of the characters presented, which was nice. I unsurprisingly, resonated with the younger characters or students. Act I's first character, Daphne, 'Anything Can Happen' captured my attention and had me reflecting on the narratives frequently presented during GE, when the topic of voting for the opposition is brought up. The way it was structured also provided almost mindless contrasts and reflection points, w ...more
Apr 11, 2022 rated it really liked it
Cooling off day was written after the 2011 elections when the government decided that Singaporeans needed a day to cool off from political speeches to be able to think rationally. Written as a play but in a style that could be read a poetry, read about what Singaporeans of every diverse background and what their stance are on politics - do they support the ruling party? What do they think of opposition?

Do away with right-wing and left-wing politics of America - Cooling off day sets it’s politic
Sep 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
A play showcasing different Singaporeans' opinions about the electoral climate in Singapore. I thought a good range was displayed and many of the opinions I found familiar. I find it kind of funny that the three most incisive and, from a vantage point of nine years on, prescient pieces were from two people, one a civil servant (the one who really loves the East Side) and one an ex-civil servant (who talked about structural barriers to change). Despite criticising how the government is set up to ...more
Jun 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
the anthro major in me who loves hearing other people's stories geeked out the whole time. the best part was hearing the individual voices, accents, and languages in my head as i devoured the play while surrounded by these the people of Singapore on the MRT. i've never been interested much in Singaporean politics because i've found it so boring (the same people always win anyway), especially compared to the exponentially more 'exciting' things happening politically across the Causeway. this make ...more
Aug 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Took me a while to get used to the many many characters and voices in the book. Did a book club discussion of this book and I had a hard time trying to distill my thoughts. That's not the fault of the author, though. What makes this book a worthwhile read is the opportunity it gives me to ruminate about the political atmosphere in Singapore and to ask myself about the kind of Singapore I want. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who has a stake in this island and is eligible to vote ...more
Quan Sheng
Dec 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
A seemingly innoculous collection of short poems, a collection of Singaporean views from all walks of life and all manners of political leanings. Alfian Sa'at's witty writing shines thorough, and the themes of Singaporean politics graudally emerge - the intersection between party, polity and public. And of course, why do we have a "cooling off day"?

Reading this book in the aftermath of the 2020 elections, I got the nagging sense that contents of this book could just as well describe recent event
Dec 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I like how this book doesn’t tell, but show - having heard multiple views across age groups, races and professions, the reader gets to form his own opinion on the elections and state of governance at large. Some quotable remarks and unique perspectives - the congregation of which becomes extremely powerful. What helps is also that given it is a play, its choice of narrative directly engages and speaks to readers - you can almost imagine the whole play unfolding in your head. Easy read, finished ...more
Jul 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
You can almost hear the Singaporean accents from this book and it really speaks to the average Singaporean, whether they may be pro-establishment or opposition. A must-read if you are interested in Singapore politics. The book talks about the aftermath of the 2011 elections, but I do think it is relevant all the time since politics does not just happen during elections. In short: Read it!
Apr 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Easy read on the perspectives of the 2011 elections.
"I think my son's generation they won't stop working to pay off everything.
They won't know what it means to be retired.
They will only know what it means to be tired."
Aug 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017, singaporean, asian
Really enjoyed this local book, full of the Singaporean flavour and spirit
May 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2020
What a gem of a play. It’s a pity I couldn’t manage to catch it when it was staged. Reading it and imagining it being performed really gave me goosebumps. I need to read his other plays.
Zakiah Humaira
Jul 21, 2020 rated it liked it
Maybe coz I haven’t watched the play.
Re-stage it please
Aug 02, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: library, ebook
Wasn't impressed. ...more
Jul 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing
i wish i could've watched this live ...more
Aug 28, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic collection of stories showing the breadth and depth of Singaporeans’ thoughts and ideas about civil society and the past, present, and future of Singapore.
Mar 18, 2022 rated it it was amazing
I am not sure whether i read this in 2020 or 2021 so sue me anw I got started with its extracts back in 19
Jay Hong
Aug 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
An illuminating play that surfaces the many gripes and contentions that the supposedly apoliticised "silent majority" bear. If anything, it is a strong reminder that we all have a part to play in shaping Singapore's future, whether we think we can, or not. ...more
Sean Goh
Aug 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: politics
Do yourself a favour and pick this up from your library, even if its the first non textbook you've touched since reading period in primary school.
The issues and ideas of 4 years ago are no less pertinent today, but to have a common conversation, there has to be a common platform, a shared space of ideas and touchstones.

You may not agree with every opinion expressed within it (nor should you oftentimes they are opposed to each other so you'll end up being diagnosed with dissociative personality d
Jan 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Coming in at just under 150 pages, you finish this so fast yet after you read the last page you're left with a feeling that you're not done yet. There is so much to unpack in each speaker's story. As a recovering polisci major, I found myself disillusioned and gradually disengaged after the disappointing results of recent elections both local and international. This play reminded me why it's necessary still to care and why there is always something at stake. I am reminded of the importance of ma ...more
Aug 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
To win our votes, they appeal to our rationality and our emotions.
Recently it seems like the latter gets more attention. And it shouldn't.

Politics does not exist as an isolated episode in time. It has real consequences. It affects our personal narratives regardless of whether you understand politics or not.

But our experiences are often overshadowed by numbers and percentages.
That's where this play comes in. It presents relatable anecdotes from people of a range of backgrounds. Individual narr
Nicky Lim
Jul 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Seems like it'll be a nice play to see the various perspective of politics played out by several characters.I think the characters cover a broad base of possible perspective, from the pro and anti, emotional and rational, practical and idealistic, etc.

Personally, I found it neutral and not taking a stance. It is simply a forum of Singapore politics.
Mar 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Cooling-Off day the play captures perfectly the atmosphere, energy and chaos of last year's General Elections. Based on interviews of Singaporeans, this text captures a wide array of viewpoints, though undoubtedly opposition perspectives feature strongly. Highly recommended. ...more
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