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Meet the new face of Sembawang GRC who wants to bring luck to residents

Sembawang GRC now has a pineapple as its official mascot. We look at some famous icons here and in countries like Japan, where “superstar” mascots make big bucks and even hold press conferences.

Published on Feb 17, 2014 6:01 PM

He is chubby, sports a spiky hairdo and “Huat ah” (prosper) is his pet phrase.

Meet Mr "Semba Wang", the new face of Sembawang GRC.

He is not an aspiring politician, but Sembawang’s official mascot - and probably one of the first created by a GRC here. The pineapple-inspired character, which made a quiet debut last year, made a high-profile appearance at a community event on Saturday, stealing some of the limelight from Sembawang MP and National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan, with children clamouring to shake the mascot’s hands. Grassroots leaders hope that the icon can strengthen the sense of belonging and identity among residents, and hopefully bring them some luck - as pineapple also means “prosperity” in Chinese.

While mascots appear to have fallen out of fashion here, they mean big business in other countries. In Japan, the land of all-things-kawaii (cute), there is a mascot for everything, from banks, government agencies to cities and prefectures. Kumamon, a cuddly bear who is considered the superstar of mascots, even held a press conference in Tokyo last Friday, “fielding” questions from a dozen or so international journalists through his “spokesman” to promote the southern prefecture of Kumamoto which he represents.

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