Singapore will be present in the 2010 Shanghai World Expo - an event that will put the stamp on China as one of the, if not, THE leading economic power in the world today. Yesterday, Health Minister Khaw Boon Wah unwield Singapore's contribution to this World Expo. Among these is the Singapore Pavilion Mascot, named Liu Lian Xiao Xing, or "Durian Star,". I was aghast at the life-sized figure of this mascot:
The first thing that came to mind was the defaced painting of Whistler's Mother, in Mr Bean (1997), in which Mr Bean (Rowan Atkinson) defaced a painting in the Royal British Gallery:
The juvenile face of the Durian Star mascot resembled the one that Mr Bean drew over that famous painting. And that Merlion picture on the chest is equally juvenile. Well, any 5 year-old child could have drawn that face and even the Merlion! I was embarrassed. Is this the best that Singapore can come up with for a mascot in a World Expo? I don't know whether it was a lack of funds in the Singapore government's coffers, of a lack of imagination, or a lack talent or what, but to employ a 5 year-old kid to draw the face of Durian Star is just too, err, juvenile. They might as well ask Mr Bean to draw it. What would the world think of Singapore at the Shanghai World Expo? That we are after all a Durian Republic?
And the durian isn't even a national fruit or anything. Durian, if I am not mistaken, originates from Borneo (East Malaysia) and Sumatra. Over the years, it has spread to other parts of the Malay Peninsula, Thailand and the Philippines. Granted Singapore is geographically part of the Malay Peninsula, and its people love eating the fruit, but it still doesn't make durian its own. We do have the Esplanade Theatres 'Durian' on (sic) the Bay, but the building still doesn't make it any more Singaporean because it is shaped like a durian.
Malaysia once tried to stake its claim on certain foods, to copyright them even. It was a silly idea, everyone panned it, and it wasn't taken seriously. But hey, they may try to stake their copyright on 'their' fruits too, even if the foods failed. Then we will have a problem with going ahead with our mascot, if Malaysia raises a ruckus during the World Expo. We might even have to shave off the pointed parts of the durian and rename the mascot 'Pointless Star', or simply 'botak'.
Are our designers bereft of any ideas?