Nov 22, 2007

Cluelessness in Full Flight

ST Nov 21, 2007
Rapping MDA officers cause mixed feelings over video
Innovative, funny or just silly? MDA's rap video is getting people talking
By Eddino Abdul Hadi

A FOUR-MINUTE video showing the head honchos of the Media Development Authority (MDA) rapping while selling its message to get Singapore creative and connected has got some media industry players tickled and others bewildered.

While some laud its effort to reach out, others say the video is forced and makes the civil servants look even a little silly.

Called the Senior Management Rap, it was featured in the MDA's interactive annual report 2006/7 released last month. The video is now available on the MDA website.

The report comes in a thumbdrive which includes its annual corporate review in video and an interactive showcase of MDA's services.

In a video attachment, CEO Christopher Chia, who is wearing a suit, is seen dancing and rapping to phrases like: 'They call me CEO, hear me out everyone.'

Deputy CEO Michael Yap goes one better. Dressed in hip-hop gear of sunglasses, cap tweaked backwards, 'bling' necklace and baggy clothes, his lines include 'experimentation is my cup of tea' ...

I have no mixed feelings about this. It sucks.

Here is a review by blogger Gabriel Seah - "Oh gods. My eyes. And ears."

I attribute this fiasco to the negative influence of the PAP's "let's be hip and happening" campaign. I was also reminded of Yawning Bread's essay on our hip-hopping PAP MPs at this year's Chingay parade:
Twelve members of parliament from the People's Action Party are going to do a 1-minute hip hop dance segment next February as part of the Chingay parade. These are 12 of the 13 born after 1965, the year that Singapore became independent [See addendum 1].

It's part of the party's attempt to ditch its stuffy, authoritarian image, and connect better with younger voters.

Most people I've spoken to about this have found themselves at a loss for words. They typically shake their heads, sigh and say something to the effect that it's all quite silly. The PAP's problem is really its own closed organisational culture, its unshakeable belief that only they know what's best for Singapore, and the way its policies grate on so many people. Image makeover,
people tend to say, doesn't address any of these problems ....

... However, what is more appalling to me, is not so much the hip hop, but that 12 of them will be doing it. Are we to believe that except for one [See addendum 1] all the members of parliament who were born post-1965 agreed that hip hop dancing down Orchard Road is a fantastic idea?

If we took a control sample of 13 ordinary citizens with matching demographic, professional and socio-economic profiles as these 13, and asked them if hip-hopping down the main shopping street is good for their image, what is the likelihood that we'd get a 12 of them saying "yes"?

I'd say, as likely as launching a paper aeroplane and expecting it to reach the moon.

Yet these 12 PAP MPs agreed. What does that tell you about what goes on within the PAP? It certainly suggests to me that at least some are doing it against their better judgement.

Yet, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said a number of times that he does not want yes-men in his party. He has said that PAP MPs are free to voice alternative, even dissenting opinions and that the party is big enough to accommodate them. This claim is usually made to buttress the argument that Singaporeans do not need to vote for opposition parties for alternative voices
to be heard.

Now we are witnesses to this strange scheme that 12 post-1965 MPs have signed on to, even though nearly everyone I've spoken with think it's a cockamamie idea. Did only one of the 13 post-1965 MPs demur? Did no one else think a dissenting thought? If they did, could they not find the courage to say, no, I won't participate?

It points exactly to something I have criticised again and again: Our political and bureaucratic culture is much too deferential to people in authority. Instead of dissenting, subordinates tend to go along with whatever whims higher-ups have. Enormous resources are thrown at all sorts of pet projects, efforts that ultimately go to waste, because these pet projects are ill-conceived, and seldom critically debated.

One can imagine some higher-up in the PAP directing the younger MPs to do something to "connect" with younger voters, and then musing that perhaps a bit of hip hop would do the trick. And pronto, the great majority fall into line. Yes, sir, it's a fantastic idea. Let's do it!

And so at Chingay, we may see their arms and legs moving to hip hop, but many of us will be able to discern that their brains are in lockstep, or goose-step perhaps. And that's why it's scary.


Anonymous said...

Maybe someone will want to create a website called.

where the wayang cock of the establishment will be highlighted.

Anonymous said...

Yah, besides being authoritarian and top down, they are also getting superficial and comical. Don't know whether they know if it connects with audience. Ever heard of flat jokes? - only the joker think it's funny.

Anonymous said...

They must dance all together even if they oppose. It is to show unity.

Anonymous said...

Connect to the world? Please don't end up connect to North Korea only and I happy liao.

My only reason to find them sux is because I find it too fake and hypocrite. Royston Tan's Cut speak more truth about MDA than this don't know what rap. Otherwise I actually don't mind giving them a thumb up for the effort.

Anonymous said...

This is a clear indication of how out of touch the pap government has become. In their desperation to connect they have indeed make fools of themselves.

Anonymous said...

Sad...... no need to do until lidat ... no class.

Anonymous said...

"It points exactly to something I have criticised again and again: Our political and bureaucratic culture is much too deferential to people in authority. Instead of dissenting, subordinates tend to go along with whatever whims higher-ups have."

To add, we nvr have the culture of agreeing to disagree. Loyalty to Singapore is not the same as loyalty or subservience to the person. Loyalty is not obedience.

Anonymous said...

The professional art/video director and song writer may need to change jobs.

Unless, due to budget constraints, it is all done in-house. Then it may be forgivable, as MDA's video quality is roughly the same state as the media/creative industry they are supposed to develop. I hope that these dancing and rapping clowns (in black suits) are not reflections of their real capabilities when they are not rapping.

Now, let's try to find the "creative juice" behind this bad rap.

Who is it, as Micheal Jackson sang in one of his songs.

Anonymous said...

i lasted all of 30 seconds before I clicked "x" on my browser.
It was just too much... nauseating
*hides red passport*
Im just glad that where I am now, ppl have NO idea what my country is like.

Anonymous said...

Patriotism is not blind obeisance to a Despot. Only numbed skulls become blind followers!!

Ser Ming said...

The lyrics don't rhyme...

Anonymous said...

Sad...... no need to do until lidat ... no class.

This is the PAP govt and their propaganda ministry we are talking about, they never had class.

Anonymous said...

i liked that actually... it was FUNNY. not fun, like they'd wished, but farce of the first order. now if only they had intended it that way... (and had the sense to laugh at themselves--because everyone is laughing at them).

Anonymous said...

woah. I did it. I forced myself to watch till the end, just to see whether i could do it, to see my endurance. Truly, truly cringe-worthy. My hairs are still standing

Anonymous said...

How could the PAP MP's connect with the people when their mindset is such that anyone in any less desirable occcupation is deemed unfit to be a politician.

I remember the MSM trying to discredit a certain WP candidate just because she was running a lounge (I think). Who do you think is more able to connect with the people? The snobbish professionals of the PAP or the common folks making a decent living amoung the masses? You don't try to connect with one or two hip-hops a year.

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

"The professional art/video director and song writer may need to change jobs."

You'll have to appreciate that the songwriter probably had to work under severe constraints. MDA probably insisted that the lyrics must cover the MDA's corporate mission statement as well as the CEO's annual work performance targets etc.

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang; do ignore this request should You not want to comment on it.

I think the Law Enforcement Officers behaved very unreasonably toward the two SDP Members in the Youtube Video Clips. Contrast that incident with the Singapore PM(LHL) speaking with the other Heads of States liked a teaching philosopher, it seemed odd.

Looking forward to your opinion; thank You!

Anonymous said...

This is the creative juice.

The video was produced by local production house Threesixzero Productions.

It enlisted director Daniel Stevenson from Australia and the music was written by local composer Bernard Teo.

The lyrics were a collaboration between songwriter Mohd Sharin and MDA officers.

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

No doubt a painful experience for all concerned.

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore's Media Development Authority, which regulates and censors media and the arts, has scored an unexpected hit on YouTube with a rap video about the city-state's media ambitions.

The YouTube posting has received more than 11,000 hits -- and a string of snide postings on the video site ( The government body aims to promote the growth of the media industry, to promote "core values" and safeguard consumer interests, its Web site says. It hopes the rap video will showcase its potential to be "a vibrant media city."

But critics say this ambition does not rhyme with Singapore's regular censorship of films and theatre and the many defamation lawsuits its government have launched against foreign media.

In the video, middle-aged executives are seen moving and shaking to a rap tune, mouthing lines from a corporate brochure.

"William Hung is more entertaining," said one of the YouTube postings, referring to the goofy singer made famous in American Idol.

Anonymous said...

It's a sad, sad day for those in the IT industry. But I'll visit the youtube link anyway,it's that bad. :(. Have you noticed most of them are From the "old boys" level.This is not closing the distance, it's called dislocation with fracture intended.

James Chia said...

I showed my friend the youtube over dinner just now. He nearly puked! I hope it's a low-cost production. If it costs hundreds of thousand to produce this, it would be a total waste of taxpayers' money.

Anonymous said...

i tried watching the whole video through. at the quarter mark, i was half cringing. at the halfway mark i couldn't bear it any longer and had to close the window.

i'm sorry but this video has the exact opposite of the intended effect on me - people like them have to stay as far away from such antics as possible. also they are much more unhip than i had previously thought.

Anonymous said...

I would like to pose a open question to MDA's CEO.

Can you please explain the rationale of requiring all TV owners to pay a compulsory annual TV licence fee even when we do not watch or have any intention to watch any of the programmes that the licence fee is supposed to support, especially now when the fees is being used to support such crap MDA videos.

And if we had no intention of watching such programmes why should we be subject to legal action for not paying the TV licence fee.

If the CEO is not coward enough to act in the video, would you be brave enough to answer these questions put forward to you.

Anonymous said...

MDA directors? What a waste of talent. They should have been professional clowns and comedians.

Yes, and all this pandering to nigga culture in an attempt to display 'coolness' and 'hipness' is backfiring with a vengeance.

This disconnect is scary and sad and infuriating at the same time. Remember the Lee family's happy sushi/sashimi feast? Airflown maguro/toro and special chefs? If you want to live an opulent lifestyle go ahead but what was the point of making a video documentary about it?

@ james chia: Not just taxpayers' money. TV license fees too. The Tham guy at the last quarter of the music video was bragging about 'fees and fines'. I wonder how much of those went into the music video's production?

Anonymous said...

This is good. A spoof on the MDA (bad) rap. Everybody enjoy.

Anonymous said...

Actually, the idea is a good one, but none of the people profiled in the video can rap or dance. Therefore, the whole thing becomes cringe-worthy. If they had gotten really good professionals to write good lyrics and have actors and dancers doing the rap, the effect might be a lot better...

Anonymous said...

It's bitter medicine for the eyes and senses. Definitely not eye candy.

I also need to see an ENT specialist to clean out my ears.

Plus I need some tranquilizers to calm me down too before I go ballistic.

What a pile of silliness and a waste of taxpayers' money!

Making a monkey out of a government agency.

First in the world. Add that ludicrous folly to the list of world's first and "best".

Unknown said...

how come amy chua never say CUT CUT CUT

le radical galoisien said...

I don't mind propaganda in rap form.

At least make it *good* propaganda in rap form?

Ironically, though they stress creativity as one of their values, very little was shown in the making of this video.

Anonymous said...

When will they realise that there are certain things which can't be trifled with at a whim?

Such as creativity. You can't just come up with a rap (or, more commonly, dump money) into some seemingly creatively-packaged thing and expect it to fly. But I'm sure they knew that already.

Just because someone thought they'd do something to "connect" with the "right" people, be it the youth or anyone else, and do something that looks "right" doensn't mean anything?

If you ask me, their laughably short-lived ban on the Mass Effect XBox360 game more than undid a all the effort they put into the rap to "connect" with whoever they were targeting.

Anonymous said...

The idea is not bad, in fact, it's decent.

The voices, suck. Imagine sitting in a meeting and having to tahan these voices for 2 hours. Flat, montonous...

And they just cannot act, though kudos for trying. But trying, is not good enough. You got to have talent. Real talent.

Anonymous said...

Didn't the fools at IDA or MDA or PAP know that they are a bunch of monkeys performing wearing the Emperor's New Clothes?

Those gahman seecholars-wannabe, next time you see these monkeys on your board giving you interview, give them a RAP, Ok?
A Rap on each of those miserable heads.

Anonymous said...

Amy Chua is funnier here...