Gurmit Singh, Irene Ang defend use of Singlish in PCK vaccination MV
While some Singaporeans slam the use of colloquialism as 'irritating' , Irene Ang calls it a 'special local spin'
It may be attracting international media attention and embraced by foreign audiences - even garnering airtime on a CNN live show on May 27 - but at home, some Singaporeans are not won over by the recent Phua Chu Kang (PCK) vaccination music video or fully on board with its use of Singlish to convey its message.
Launched on May 2 and titled Get Your Shot, Steady Pom Pi Pi, the music video is part of an integrated campaign by the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) to encourage Singaporeans to get vaccinated against Covid-19.
Although the video has since garnered more than five million views, some netizens have voiced their disapproval on social media.
YouTube user Angela Wong said: "Please cease this kind of Singlish ads. This type of English belongs to (the) older generation. Nowadays, most of us don't speak like this any more."
Another user Kaptif commented: "Ridiculous as hell... The laughing stock of the entire world with this!"
Other terms used by viewers to describe the video were "sickening" and "irritating", while one commented that the use of PCK characters was like "milking an aged cow".
Local actor Gurmit Singh, who stars in the video as the TV character PCK, told The New Paper: "Some people may be insecure or worried about the stigma associated with Singlish, but I think we should embrace it, especially when so many foreigners love it. In fact, Singlish brings us together and is a strong part of our culture."
The 56-year-old prefers to focus on the positives instead, such as the videos he has received from parents who record their children singing and dancing along to the catchy rap.
On the international media attention, he said: "I honestly didn't expect it to blow up. I was pleasantly surprised when my fans sent me those news reports.
"It is encouraging to see (foreigners) enjoy our video. Maybe it is because the song is catchy and refreshing, while most PSAs (public service announcements) are usually dull and mundane."
Local actress Irene Ang, 51, who reprises her role as PCK's wife Rosie in the video, is not disheartened by the criticism either.
She said: "We are just trying to use familiar characters to spread a message. Singlish is like a spice, a special local spin or twist. I think it helps foreigners to understand Singapore culture.
"Maybe they often see Singapore as a serious country, so having this message conveyed in such a light-hearted way comes as a surprise to them."
Ms Soffy Hariyanti, director of the campaigns and production department at MCI, said PCK was first featured in the early days of the virus outbreak in March last year, in a video titled Singapore Be Steady.
Given the protracted fight against the disease and with the roll-out of the vaccination programme, MCI felt it was "timely" to bring back PCK - and with Rosie this time - for a "sequel".
"We wanted to use everyday language which would be easily understood, especially since Covid-19 vaccination is a complex topic," she said.
"As a team, we are always on the lookout for innovative and creative approaches to engage our audiences, but this involves some amount of risk-taking."