MP wins praise for fire safety video done in Hokkien

MP Sun Xueling posted a two-minute Facebook video on fire safety tips with narration in Hokkien on Jan 31, 2019.
MP Sun Xueling posted a two-minute Facebook video on fire safety tips with narration in Hokkien on Jan 31, 2019.PHOTO: FACEBOOK/SUN XUELING

A two-minute Facebook video on fire safety tips by Ms Sun Xueling, an MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, has been receiving praise after she posted it on Thursday.

In the video, the Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs and National Development gives fire safety tips to prevent home fires - in fluent Hokkien.

The video focuses on three messages: not to stand too close to the stove when cooking; not to leave cooking unattended; and to ensure there are no smouldering embers before disposing of lighted materials.

Online comments praised her mastery of the dialect, as well as the effort put into producing the video.

Ms Sun, who is Hokkien, told The Sunday Times yesterday that the video was made DIY (do-it-yourself) style, involving only three people: herself, an administrative staff member from the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) who was featured in the video, and an SCDF firefighter who doubled as cameraman and video editor.

Ms Sun said that as Chinese New Year is approaching, and there were two home fires recently in Punggol and Pasir Ris, she wanted to put out a message on fire safety to warn residents - and hence she approached the SCDF.

"They told me that they had a firefighter who could do the recording, so we could do it together. I was pleasantly surprised that he also knew how to do motion graphics," said Ms Sun, 39.

Filming took two hours last Monday morning at a Punggol resident's home, while the editing and graphics, done by the firefighter, took another one to two days. The script was written by Ms Sun.

The MP said they did not use professional video cameras or microphones and relied on a small handheld camera.

"We had a lot of problems with recording the sound at first as we were filming parts of it outdoors, and for the kitchen scene, when we played it back, the sound of the cooking was louder than me and I couldn't hear myself," she said.

The team improvised by using a mobile phone and an earpiece to get better audio quality.


Ms Sun has been carrying out community engagements with her residents on fire safety and wanted to step up the engagements as the bulk of fires in residential homes was caused by unattended cooking or rubbish chute fires. There were 2,008 fires reported in residential premises across Singapore in the first 10 months of last year.

She decided to narrate the video in Hokkien and put in English and Chinese subtitles in order to reach out to as wide an audience as possible.

"If I did it only in English and Mandarin, I would miss out on an audience group, particularly the elderly, who during Chinese New Year would be doing a lot of cooking. I've seen for myself my own grandmother's shirt catching fire while cooking, so it is a real danger," said Ms Sun.

When asked about her choice to use Hokkien, given the Government's dialect policy, she said: "The importance of language is the ability to communicate with the target audience. I wanted simple advisory points to go out to an audience group whom I didn't want neglected because of language."

Ms Sun said she was not sure how many elderly people used Facebook, but knew that her followers were mostly her young residents. Hence in her Facebook post, she explicitly asked viewers to show the video to their parents or grandparents.

As at 11.30am yesterday, her video had about 27,000 views on Facebook and 285 shares.

This is not the first time Ms Sun has been featured in a video related to safety. In August last year, she posted a Facebook video of a step-by-step guide on what to do in the event of an infant cardiac arrest or choking incident, which has garnered about 75,000 views to date.

Goh Yan Han

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 03, 2019, with the headline 'MP wins praise for fire safety video done in Hokkien'. Subscribe