Singa the mascot may stage a comeback after 'quitting'

SINGA the Lion, may not be quitting after all.

A resignation letter "written" by the famous mascot turned out to be a media campaign "to generate conversations and reactions online".

The Singapore Kindness Movement (SKM) caused a stir yesterday when it issued the letter declaring that Singa was calling it a day, after being an icon for public education campaigns for more than 30 years.

"I quit. I need a long break, and you could probably use a break from me too. No one likes being nagged at, even if it's about being kind and gracious," said the letter, which showed a sad-looking Singa.

"It's been said that kindness shouldn't be a campaign... That people in authority - at work, in school, at home and in government - should lead by example," added the note, published in the media and on the SKM website. "Fair enough. I suppose it's time for real people to step up and for the mascot to step aside."

Another letter was sent to all primary schools yesterday, saying Singa was going to "teleport" its home to "another universe... far away".

The resignation letter went viral, attracting hundreds of responses online. Some said they would miss Singa, others thought it had lost its relevance and some dismissed it as a publicity stunt.

SKM general secretary William Wan said one aim of the letter was to generate "conversations and reactions online", and Singa may make a comeback.

"On hearing that Singa quits, we hope many will speak up and express their feelings about kindness and how it is promoted through Singa as a mascot and what kind of people we are, and who we want to be," he told The Straits Times. "There is a possibility of Singa coming back if there is a sense from members of the public that Singa still has a role in promoting kindness."

He added that SKM is not looking for a new mascot.

Asked if the letter was misleading, he said: "Does Singa quitting mislead people given the main message is that kindness is each person's responsibility? Maybe the purist will say 'yes' but I think it is debatable."

Singa made its debut in 1982 as the National Courtesy Campaign mascot. It was adopted as SKM's official mascot in 2001.

The "news" of it quitting triggered discussion yesterday. Quoting from a previous courtesy campaign song, Ms Thilaga Kumar wrote on The Straits Times' Facebook page: "Oh my! 'Courtesy is for free, courtesy is for you and me...' and you are leaving? I am going to miss you terribly."

But undergraduate Daryl Tan, 23, posted on The Straits Times' Facebook page: "Good riddance to that stuffed animal mascot that was worth precisely nothing and did nothing to remind others of what kindness is supposed to mean. Real kindness is not introduced through a campaign, but through compassion."

Others felt it was time it left. Advertising director David Tan, 38, said he thought Singa was "cute" in primary school. "But after that... I think it died down... To me, it has already died a death that nobody knows."

goyshiyi@sph.com.sg