Robb Report Singapore

Lumps of Coal

Who’s been naughty and who’s been nice this year, and what do our world leaders deserve in their Christmas stockings?


THEY SAY THAT the population of a country gets the leader it deserves. While this may be partially true in democracie­s, the logic is less supportabl­e when it comes to autocracie­s, dictatorsh­ips and those who find themselves empowered by going into daddy’s business. Whoever they are, and however they got to where they intend to stay

(often by hook or by crook) they’re human (allegedly) and have emotions. They probably look forward to the festive period just like the rest of us, and if we deserve them, what do they deserve?

Global leaders invariably grab the headlines, and 2019 has been a bumper year for many whose goal it is to bask in the spotlight of worldwide approval. Santa Claus may have to get creative when loading his sack though, if he wants to ensure that the planet’s movers and shakers receive what they may be lacking during this festive season. I have a few ideas of my own.

Justin Trudeau definitely needs some new make-up. That which he favoured at parties as a student in the 1990s and as a teacher in 2001 must be wearing as thin as his excuses for sporting it in the first place. Despite his assertion that the brown / blackface maquillage (he even did his hands) wasn’t considered racist 20 years ago, he did lose significan­t political capital when the lurid photos emerged.

Clearly Mr Trudeau’s Arabian Nights days are over, so he’ll be needing something else to augment his natural good looks – although I wouldn’t suggest any skin lightening treatment – and I’m sure there’ll be no shortage of cosmetics companies lining up to provide their wares. The man got re-elected; so perhaps ‘soft racism’ is only skin deep anyway.

Kim Jong-un needs a proper haircut for Christmas – I don’t care what anyone says. Even his father’s coiffure was better than his, and Jong-il’s was execrable. I’m not sure whether his current style is designed to better frame his face, or to provide a little more height to his overall physique. Some have even suggested he’s hoping to enhance his credibilit­y by looking more like his grandpa (North Korea’s founding father, Kim Il-sung) but even that doesn’t work. I think it’s a bone structure issue.

I think he should eschew his flat-top – even his flop is a flop and makes him look as though he is preparing for an audition in a Lego movie – and go for a full-on Mohican, dyeing what hair remains of his hair a bright red. I would willingly pay for it, and it would certainly make his appearance­s in the media that much more entertaini­ng.

Strangely, Boris Johnson also needs a decent haircut, along with a personal assistant who is able to teach him how to put on a tie properly. Does the man not own a mirror? With the UK going to the polls in December, Mr Johnson will need every ounce of credibilit­y he can get, and the fact that he currently shambles around the place looking like a dayrelease patient from a grey-walled institutio­n doesn’t help.

If you asked him, personally, what he would like for Christmas, he may come back with “the permanent deletion of my most embarrassi­ng moments on video”, and there are plenty to choose from, whether they be his exploits at rugby, football, and angling, or waving Union Jacks while suspended on a flying fox looking like a stranded seabass.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan needs a new pen for Christmas so that he can better draw up his revised map of Syria. ‘Safety zone’ and ‘corridor of ethnic cleansing’ are still terms that we’re all pondering, and may even be interchang­eable as far as the Turkish president is concerned. Perhaps instead of a pen, we give him a pencil, so lines are easier to erase and redraw.

Another man in dire need of a new pen this Christmas is Donald Trump. It needs to be bigger, fatter and dispense more ink, as his signature on executive orders and the like simply isn’t big enough.

Surely we could get him a pen for a signature that fills an entire page, ensuring, perhaps, that the actual body of the order itself is kept to a minimum or, better still, doesn’t exist at all. Tracy Trussell from the British Institute of Graphologi­sts suggests that Mr Trump’s ‘John Hancock’ “transmits wild ambition, dynamism, bravery and fearlessne­ss”, before going on to use other words and phrases such as “hungry for power”, “stubbornne­ss” and “hard lined”. Others have pointed out that his autograph resembles the results of a lie detector test, but let’s not go there.

Vladimir Putin doesn’t need anything special this festive season, although Trump did give him an early Christmas present by withdrawin­g US troops from Syria. Handing

Russia extra influence in the troubled Middle East region is likely to be a gift that keeps on giving, and there’s little point in keeping the receipt seeing as it’s not one that’s likely to be exchanged anytime soon.

And finally, for Christmas this year I have decided to get Xi Jinping… absolutely nothing. What could one possibly give to the man who will probably have everything soon enough?

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