Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Mid Autumn Festival Light Up in Chinatown 2015


Most celebrations and festivals occurs in this year of SG50 so far were one way or another took on the SG50's flavour. As far as the street lantern designs on this Chinatown's traditional Mid-Autumn Festival (MAF) street light up are concerned, its main theme is SG50.

In the past, the lantern designs were based mainly on the Chinese zodiac animal of that year, plus perhaps a few other auspicious animals like dragons or bats, or the figures from folklore related to MAF like Chang Er and Jade Rabbit. They may leave that for the lantern display in Gardens by the Bay.


This year, in keeping with the SG50 theme, all the lantern designs are based on Singaporeana. I.e. Singapore icons and mascots in the past 50 years of nationhood. The mascots are associated with various national campaigns.

The national campaigns are part of the social engineering that made Singapore society what it is today, shaping and guiding the Singaporean pro-social behaviour as they moved from the 3rd world to the 1st world (a phrase originated by LKY and repeated many times by many Singaporean. I will be pedantic and say that it should be from a developing economy to a developed economy. Even this, I'm told is a wrong characterisation. Well, whoever it is, he or she is surely an esteemed member of TPS (The Pedantic Society)).

For those who think all these campaigns are too heavy-handed. Let say even Singapore's neighbour a little further down south of the continent Australia liked one of these campaigns so much in the 1970s, it was exported to that sun-drenched country. While other countries are concerning selling products, Singapore government were selling and exporting social movements. I think Singapore has been exporting that to China in the last 30 years. I think PRC can make very good use of these national campaigns for all those uncivil public conducts (mostly coming from the Mao generation) as they're - borrowing LKY again - going from the 3rd to the 1st world (actually PRC is moving from the 2nd to the 3rd world, but economically they're going from the 3rd to the 1st world. It's very confusing. See? I'm not being pedantic).

I agree that these national campaigns are more suited for the period of socioeconomic development from the 3rd to 1st world (yes, I'm quite happy to parrot this ad nausea). Not so much from the 1st world to the 0th world. Why not? Because there's no 0th world (or should it be -1th world using the same mathematical logic?). Not yet, any way. I say that just to cover all bases. I'm just way too smart, and extremely modest.

Looking at these mascots is like a walk down memory lane. Although most of the young Singaporean are unlikely to know some of these mascots, and least of all, foreigners like myself would be clueless what all these mascots are. So without further ado, let me (re)introduce them to the young Singaporeans and foreigners.


Singa the Courtesy Lion (1982 - 2001)

Probably the most often seen. At least, going by my own experience. Probably because it's lasted the longest, and being re-introduced recently. It's part of the Kindness Movement campaign. This is in fact the only mascot - out of all the ones displayed in MAF - I have actually came across. At least during this SG50.

There's even a Kindness Gallery. No other mascot has such VIP treatment, and popularity.

HK locals is considered by tourists as one of the rudest countries to visit (the list of top 10 rude countries include NYC, and Paris), Singapore is ranking disappointingly low. I duuno if this national campaign has something to do with it. I would be surprise if it has zero effect.

Singa the Courtesy Lion, Mid Autumn Festival Light Up, Chinatown, Singapore
Singa the Courtesy Lion (middle row)


Teamy (1982 - 1999)

For the tenderly young, they might mistaken Teamy for Princess Dot in A Bug's Life (1998), but in different costume. Nah, 10 year old kid today are very smart. They don't make mistake like we did when we were 10 year old. The new 10 is the old 15, arguably 20 (my 20 anyway).

Teamy the productivity bee is borrowing the idea of the busy bee, which is a social insect. While other countries were selling products, NPB were selling productivity.

The team that created Teamy had considered if they should use an ant or a bee (as both are equally busy social insects) for the mascot. The bee won out because it has wings. Actually Princess Dot is an ant, but has a pair of wings too. That's why I say they could be easily mistaken (by older people. Not young ones).

Teamy, Mid Autumn Festival Light Up, Chinatown, Singapore
Teamy


Captain Green (1990 - 1997)

Probably one of the more short-live mascot. As it name suggests, it's created as a face for the environmental movement.

I used to join an ISP with an uncanny similar logo. Since it was in Australia. No legal conflict. In any case, the company went bust.

I do like the idea of a frog as a mascot because frogs eat insects and cleaning up the undesirable (for most people. For biologists, everything is desirable, including roaches. Do frog eat roaches too? I think they do. Frog have good taste (and so they taste good), that's why I like to eat frog. Especially frog congee. You can go and eat at one of my recommendation of Eminent frog Porridge. You don't like to eat a mascot? Then you'd better not eat lion or merlion).

Captain Green, Mid Autumn Festival Light Up, Chinatown, Singapore
Captain Green


Water Wally (2005 - )

When I gave this mascot a casual - very casual - glance as it was hung above the wire, I mistook it for the Irish pixies because it's green with pointy hat and very tiny and cute. Well, either pixies or one of the other Irish folklore creatures like gnomes or leprechauns.

On closer look, with the help of my 200mm zoom lens, it turned out to be a drop of blue water. Blue in orange street light looked green. Irish green, that is, Paddy.


Water Wally, Mid Autumn Festival Light Up, Chinatown, Singapore
Water Wally


Sharity Elephant (1984 - )

You don't really need me to tell you that what this mascot is intended to inspire. In some European languages (including English sometimes), 'C' is pronounced as 'S'. And it could therefore either read as "charity" or "share".

Its ears aren't so big that the kids would mistake it for Dumbo.

Sharity Elephant, Mid Autumn Festival Light Up, Chinatown, Singapore
Sharity Elephant

Of course, there're a lot of mascots missing. I think it's impractical to put them all up except for the popular ones. I think the old ones are more preferable over the new ones as this is about reminiscence. So don't expect to see mascots that was created for the public transport graciousness campaign like Stacey, Martin and Glenda. Well, you see them when you walk into a MRT.

Apart from mascots that are hung above the main road, some of the icons are installed in the traffic islands.


Singlish, Mid Autumn Festival Light Up, Chinatown, Singapore
Singlish is of course a Singaporean icon

Singlish, Mid Autumn Festival Light Up, Chinatown, Singapore


Mid Autumn Festival Light Up, Chinatown, Singapore


Changi airport control tower, Mid Autumn Festival Light Up, Chinatown, Singapore
Changi Airport Control Tower
ArtScience Museum, Mid Autumn Festival Light Up, Chinatown, Singapore
ArtScience Museum
Supertrees, Gerdens by the Bay, Mid Autumn Festival Light Up, Chinatown, Singapore
Supertrees, Gardens by the Bay

Hand painted lanterns, Mid Autumn Festival Light Up, Chinatown, Singapore
The simpler traditional lanterns, hand-painted, can be seen in Food Street in Chinatown

Ice kachang, Mid Autumn Festival Light Up, Chinatown, Singapore tea cup set, Mid Autumn Festival Light Up, Chinatown, Singapore


Oh, I almost forgot, the most iconic of Singapore icon, the Merlion. It deserves to be the centre piece.

Merlion, Mid Autumn Festival Light Up, Chinatown, Singapore
Is this comparable size to the one in Marina Bay?

As I was on my way to a bus stop, I walked past the stage that set up for MAF with live performances. So I stopped for 5 mins. I should've stayed for 4 mins because my bus just left secs before I arrived.





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