16 July 2008

Stolen star shines an unflattering light

Cabinet minister Vivian Balakrishnan told a roomful of students that the YouTube age of politics is here. Without sound, music and moving images, nobody will watch, he said. He may be right: we're all watching the 2008 National Day music video. But why, really? Full essay.


yuen said...

>freedom of expression

it is relatively easy to "express" yourself - various kinds of open mechanisms are available all over the world; the problem is in reaching the intended audience

you can, for example, post all kinds of video clips on Youtube, but only some get the attention of your own local audience, e.g., the video clips that offended the Thai royal family were widely noticed in Thailand, but first they needed to be reported in the press

Anonymous said...

Globally, the industrial age is already behind us. Manufacturing is no longer the value-adding activity that it once was, over 2 decades ago. With digital innovation, multimedia activity & E-commerce is the current trend. Gaming, gambling, pornography, P-to-P file sharing, online transactions, etc - it's all happening over the net!
The problem is that Spore govt has buried its head in the sand. The Spore system engineered by LKY has its roots in the old industrial age - where the people were mere digits or inputs in the industrial process together with land & production resources. The govt has full control over these resources unlike Cyberspace where they cannot contol. Spore's educational system is geared towards academic excellence & qualifications, fuelling an outmoded elitist system strongly supported by the govt and a pliant workforce willing to work for pitiful wages. A tertiary system that churns out plenty of engineers & accountants, etc with little or no creativity. The govt has decided it should have full control over the thought processes of the people.
A non-existent arts & drama scene is testimony to the heavy handed nature of the Spore govt towards free thinking and liberal attitudes. There is no place for people who think outside the box in Spore or behave outside of the "Christian" mode.
This is the 1st decade of the internet age - and already Spore is looking extremely irrelevant. I shudder to think about the next decade! Spore planners still focused on building grandiose shopping malls like Vivo City & Orchard Turn when these days, more & more shrewd shoppers are buying stuff online. Spore is building impressive casinos to be ready in 2010 - but no one seems to have told the politicians that more punters are actually gambling online instead of going to the casinos. With the persistent high cost of oil, tourism & air travel will be severely curtailed in the future - this is a blind curve that the Spore planners cannot see.
Spore has a very strict policy on uncensored & pornographic videos but don't they know that downloading such stuff is so easy with P-to-P technology. The policy makers should do more to educate the people instead of arbitrarily pulling blinders over their eyes - this is what is wrong with Spore govt - refuse to allow the minds to mature instead suppressing them for the sake of political control. Of course, part of the maturity process would be the freedom of expression which the govt so fears!
Spore has shown a distinct lack of creativity & are quite prone towards "me-too-isms" or copycatting. Witness the proliferation & subsequent withering of the Bubble-Tea phenomena - [sic] Portuguese Egg-Tart, Kopi Bun, etc.
In the internet age, originality and mass adoption is extremely critical to success. Spore has neither!u

Anonymous said...

Strongly agree with the second comment. Well said!

recruit ong

Anonymous said...

Yah, the add this year looks thoroughly confused. What is it trying to promote? Teach less, learn more? SDU / matchmaking? Rugged Society? URA's model of the island?

yuen said...

do you seriously believe that allowing political podcasts would somehow generate more movie makers like Eric Khoo and Jack Neo? in fact, how many people took the trouble to see their movies? are you attacking the real issue?

it is very easy to blame "control" for lack of creativity, but in actual fact there is little control on what you "say" and what you "see"; the control is on systems for connecting the two, e.g., it is easy to write something on your own blog, but hard to get it published in ST and reach a larger audience; you can easily produce your own movies and put them on Youtube, but hard to get them into theatres and on TV, and therefore, hard to get finance to produce something big.

Anonymous said...

Anon do you know that you can still use the old rotary telephone in the modern telecom/internet system? ie the old dial type phones that goes click, click eg when you dial the number 9, it clicks a switch 9 times, Alexander graham bell technology. Nowadays new phones use the tone type. The point is that if you are governing/planing for 3 to 4m pple you can't yank everybody into the digital age at one go so you have to cater to the legacy systems and pple.

Another eg is the S'pore river/bumboats of the past. Adapted with new tech/ facilities you can still play a part to become an important shipping hub. You could have said that with the advent of planes, slower ships would be a thing of the past and abandon the biz. With new long range planes on the horizon do we then abandon the airport hubbing biz?

Building on the tourism industry with theme parks, new malls, new events/festivals is a valid strategy, otherwise Dubai is also going down the wrong path. They have tried with the esplanade but again you can't suddenly produce a group of award winning artists overnight. Of course sending Jack Neo for national education is a negative and more could be done to loosen up. It just takes time and the passing of a political generation.

Anonymous said...

> "We will get into the YouTube style of politics -- which means it's multimedia," he said,

He meant something like this alternative to the official National Day Song?

Plagiarism is a serious issue in other parts of the world. Sadly, in Singapore, our citizens seem to have accepted that it is no big deal, judging from the way the government did not even react, let alone reject "Shine for Singapore". In the description of the above-linked video, the youtuber wrote that the plagiarism is just an outward symptom of a much wider issue, and I tend to agree.

Anonymous said...

Singing songs of patriotism, North Korean style, is not going to make Singaporeans more patriotic.

Making the effort to understand their difficulties and lending a more caring ear does. But engaging the people has never been the PAP's strong point. Even now, the younger PAP MPs are largely cast in the mould of the old man, hardly surprising. And I guess it is just the 'play safe' mentality at work.

From the beginning their style has been: we are right, we do it our way, you just comply with our style of doing things, your views mean little and matter little.

And comply we did, eventually becoming a nation of people who are afraid to rock the boat and just resort to playing safe. In this kind of environment, how do we expect to produce capable leaders to lead? We are now being 'led' by a PM needing 2 DPM, a SM and a MM to do the job of running the country. What's next?

thomask said...

i think you're all slightly overreacting here... not about the plagiarism or "creative interpretation" of the japanese ad itself, whichever spin you choose to apply, but about the government's role in the debacle.

the government organising committee would've employed an ad agency (i believe the agency rep was interviewed in yesterday's 'new paper'). the agency would've come up with a couple of concepts, made some tester videos, shown them to a focus group and been given the all clear. the organising committee would not, nor should have, included a "no plagiarism" cause - it's implied. they (hopefully!) weren't aware of the 2-year old japenese ad.

once the plagiarism came to light it was obviously too late to slap together another (excrementally poor) ad, so the government just had to roll with the punch.

this isn't the first time a national government has been shafted by an ad agency. the "where the bloody hell are you?" tourism campaign by M&C saatchi for the australian government has been an unmitigated failure. after 2 and half years the government is finally cutting its losses and scrapping the campaign.


now, you can argue about the PAP stifling the creative impulse in the first place until you're blue in the face, but i think in this specific instance they've simply been left with egg on their faces by an unscrupulous ad agency. yes, there are such things ;)

Kelly said...

Unfortunately, that embedded clip of the Japanese ad no longer works.

KiWeTO said...


the mark of a strong government is to roll with the punches, pretend that nothing has gone wrong, we haven't been guilty of plagiarising anything, and sing on?

The mark of a strong government is to come out and say - we made a mistake, we hired the wrong people, those people who conned us will pay, some heads will roll.... and the govenrment will still stand.

The issue that everyone is alluding to is not that this government cannot take the 'punch', but rather, that the punch signifies.

Plagiarising is so common in the Singapore education system. I have personally seen examples where those who were caught were barely given a slap on the wrist. Over in the west, such things are cause and the reason for expulsion. Here, just the empty threat.

Its just another symptom of the Singaporean psyche's malaise. Nothing will change for the better until we as a society want it to.


thomask said...


thanks for your reply!

i'm not saying anything about rolling with the punches being the "mark of a strong government", i'm saying they weren't left with any other (realistic) options.

do you really think they'd pull the ads off air? would any other nation's government? check http://www.famousplagiarists.com/politics.htm for a list of past political plagiarists.

and i'm afraid to say that singapore universities are not the only academic institutions where student (and faculty) plagiarism takes place, and where punishment is usually little more than a "slap on the wrist". http://www.famousplagiarists.com/academia.htm

i'm not defending the government, nor am i defending plagiarism, i'm pointing out that singapore is far from "special" in these cases. the japanese should be hiring a good international IP lawyer to determine if there's case against the ad agency.

perhaps you should pick a 'stronger' issue to get your feelings on the government across - escalators perhaps!?

Winston Ong said...

Actually, I wonder why you have focused so much on the copying than the big picture of it. Apparently, the producer subtly added those scenes without paying much focus on it except to let the government know, it's a star drawn by a kid, shows good future and sends right message. But inherently, don't you think it's a mockery of our education system? In school, we are taught to learn the techniques, and modify them to suit our needs. When are we given the opportunity to create new techniques? To me, it's more like an internal joke played by the producer on the government, and I wished you hadn't given it away so easily.