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Publicity stunt in Raffles Place promoting Every Singaporean Son draws flak

Published on Aug 2, 2013 8:09 PM

A promotional event for a documentary about the Singapore army that took place on Friday afternoon has drawn some flak.

The event was to promote the second season of Every Singaporean Son, which will be shown on the National Geographic Channel.

Passers-by at Raffles Place were invited to deliver drill commands to a squad of what appeared to be NS men. Their faces were camouflaged and they were dressed in army gear.

Some netizens, commenting on photos of the men which appeared on forums, called the stunt demeaning to Singaporean soldiers.

The Ministry of Defence (Mindef) on Friday clarified on its Facebook page Cyberpioneer that those involved in the event were paid actors. It also said that Mindef and the Singapore Armed Forces neither endorsed the use of military uniforms or sponsored the event.

Ex-army regular Charles Quek, 34, found the stunt inappropriate. "The military is all about discipline and image, but this makes them look ridiculous," said Mr Quek, who is currently self-employed. "People will assume that it's Mindef the moment you don the uniform."

Others did not see any harm. "I thought they were National Cadet Corps kids having some sort of camp," said lawyer Christine Sim, 25.

National Geographic Channel Singapore, which organized the stunt, apologised on their Facebook page, explaining that the event was designed to "let normal Singaporeans understand how an army officer's job is really difficult".

A spokesman for the channel added: "We didn't intend for it to come across as devaluing our army officers, who sacrificed blood, sweat and tears in service of our nation. We seek the forgiveness of all Singaporeans who were offended by our marketing activity, and promise that we will give more consideration in the future for our publicity push of our programmes."