This Week in Asia: Social Commentary Around Singapore’s Domestic Workers Reply

Mums and Maids, a YouTube video generating some debate on this tropical isle, perhaps deserves more credit than local media coverage and public discussion currently grants.  Some have taken exception to the video’s portrait of maids who know children better than the parents in this video.  The argument is that parents might spend more time with the kids, thereby allowing domestic workers to have a day of.

And that is the point of the video–giving maids a day of rest.  #igiveadayoff

But perhaps something more important is happening here.  In a country where public bodies create messages about understanding dementia (Ah Kong), showing tolerance (or understanding) of people from different nations and cultures, and even arrange public networking for singles seeking a partner….to see a message like this coming from an NGO is important.

The fact that this public conversation has been sparked by a workers’ rights group, Transient Workers Count Too, represents an important act of participating in a  civil society.  This is a more sophisticated act of public discourse compared to the blunt stridence communicated by opposition parties or the “move to the centre of the train” messages facing commuters each day.  Both are important, so please do not mistake my point, but many of these messages fail to generate genuine public discourse around the issue.

#igiveadayoff has generated such discourse, and they should be credited for their civic contribution regardless of which side of the issue you may fall.

This Week in Asia for March 24 Reply

This week, upon the passing of Lee Kuan Yew, I share different views I gathered in obituaries from around the world, and the evolution of my own thoughts about Singapore’s founding father.  In short, part of his brilliance and success was genuinely knowing what it took to read the context, govern in Singapore, and build the nation.

Congratulations to Shel and Neville for having delivered 800 episodes of For Immediate Release.  What an accomplishment!


Singapore’s Employee Engagement Amongst the Lowest in the World – 2 Years in a Row Reply

DisengagedTwo different studies have found that Singaporean employees are amongst the least engaged in the world.

Seeing how Singapore has made productivity such a priority, perhaps we are missing the obvious.

This Week in Asia: Humor Gone Terribly Wrong in Japan and Singapore Reply

For Immediate Release podcast #740 has gone live, and this week in Asia I discuss the perils of cross-cultural humor.  ANA airline in Japan apologizes over stereotypes in a marketing video while Singapore gets a little edgy around foolish Facebook posts from a British banker.  You can get the details about both cases by listening here.

With regards to the Singapore case, I shared my views with Asia One.

Navigating the Digital Age: On the Red Dot, Channel News Asia Reply

I was fortunate to share a few thoughts about multitasking and surviving in the digital age.  The program begins by looking at the recent hacking episodes here in SG, and then moves on to the digital age discussion (around 11:45).  My apologies for not being able to embed the XIN video, so please follow the link below.

Check out this great MSN video – Episode 57.

On the Red Dot

This Week in Asia Nov 12: Values Clash & Blocked Website in Singapore Reply

This week in Asia, a values clash in Singapore leads to infidelity website Ashley Madison being blocked by the MDA.  While I am not at all disappointed that the site will not open for business in my adopted home, there are some interesting issues that emerge from this story.

  • When does searching for a PR firm in and of itself become newsworthy?
  • Why would PR firms not want Ashley Madison as a client?
  • Can a PR firm build trust when the client’s entire business model is all about violating trust?

Please listen and if you want more be sure to subscribe to For Immediate Release.

How Awkward is Mercedes’ Corporate Rockstar Campaign? Reply

Sometimes the branding campaigns in Singapore seem to border on the ridiculous.

Do you recall the Visa payWave campaign?  It presented a lockstep world where everyone walked, ate, and lived life in perfect

Visa payWave Commercial

Visa payWave Commercial

unison.  The instant someone did something different (i.e., did not pay with Visa) the world recoiled in horror and happiness could only be restored by returning to a lockstep world.

The idea that we would find such uniformity inviting is disturbing. I find this almost as disturbing as Coke’s desire to “teach the world to sing in perfect harmony.”

Now Mercedes Singapore has launched a corporate rockstar campaign.  “Ignore the ordinary and live life on your own terms.”  Seriously?  Mercedes seems to flip between being the #1 or #2 automotive brand in SG measured by sales.  Old and young alike drive Mercedes.  The brand is everywhere from HDB complexes to country clubs.  From one perspective, we could argue that these cars are the Adidas, Chivas, or Manchester United of their price range–they are everywhere.

Setting aside the oxymoron of “corporate rockstar,” I personally struggle with how it could be even remotely attractive to “Ignore the ordinary and live life on your own terms” by embracing the Mercedes brand.  Buying Mercedes would seem to be a step directly into the mainstream.  Given the national context into which this campaign was placed, such corporate speak simply comes across as silly and disconnected.  This is unfortunate because Mercedes does represent some damn fine engineering.

Mercedes Wants to be a Little Edgy

Mercedes Wants to be a Little Edgy

Singapore’s Restrained Public Communication from Under a Blanket of Haze Reply


For Immediate Release #709 is now live.  My Asia report discusses public communication surrounding the haze that has been blanketing Singapore and Malaysia for the last week.  Some might ask if Singapore’s public officials have been restrained in their comments.  I take a closer look and share my thoughts, so do tune in to this week’s podcast.