WoOoO has the answers to all your Hungry Ghost queries

Want to have an otherworldly experience? Now you can - by chatting with a kind "soul" online to find out more about the Hungry Ghost Festival.

The friendly chatbot created by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) is known as Mr Woo (full name Mr WoOoO, said MCCY).

The ministry said yesterday that it is exploring the use of digital tools to build greater understanding of Singapore's intangible cultural heritage.

Mr Woo's display picture on his Facebook page is an empty red plastic chair, a reference to the first row at getai performances usually reserved for supernatural "visitors".

In town for his "yearly trip in search of good food, exciting concerts and intriguing ceremonies", Mr Woo is available to chat with users on Facebook Messenger and answer questions about the festival until Sept 9, when it ends.

"He is brimming with information on the festival's origins and practices, having built up his store of knowledge by consulting religious leaders from Buddhist and Taoist faiths," said MCCY.

MCCY's Hungry Ghost chatbot Mr Woo will answer your burning questions about the festival via Facebook or Facebook Messenger until Sept 9, when the festival ends.
MCCY's Hungry Ghost chatbot Mr Woo will answer your burning questions about the festival via Facebook or Facebook Messenger until Sept 9, when the festival ends. PHOTO: MR WOO/ FACEBOOK

Mr Woo is geographically savvy too, and will provide location-based directions to the closest Buddhist or Taoist temple as well as culturally unique getai performances.

Other government organisations are also making use of chatbots to engage the public. Government feedback unit Reach plans to have a new interactive chatbot on its website for Singaporeans to share their opinions on this year's National Day Rally on Sunday.

• Find Mr Woo on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Mr.WooOoOoOOo/

• His Facebook Messenger address is https://bit.ly/MrWoo

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 17, 2018, with the headline 'WoOoO has the answers to all your Hungry Ghost queries'. Print Edition | Subscribe