These playing cards are so Singaporean, it's got Amos Yee and Steven Lim as jokers

These playing cards are so Singaporean, it's got Amos Yee and Steven Lim as jokers
Amos Yee (left) and Steven Lim as 'jokers' on a deck of playing cards designed by social media agency Protocol.
PHOTO: Protocol

SINGAPORE - What do Steven Lim 'Kor Kor' and Amos Yee have in common? They're a bunch of 'jokers', a term probably used in conversations a lot when it comes to these two controversial figures.

Two 22-year-old local designers have translated this into more than a figure of speech - they've actually portrayed Steven and Amos as the wildcard (or wildchild, in some people's books) in a deck of playing cards.

Inspired by the people, places and food that are typically Singaporean, the playing cards were created by designers Szeyi and Priyanka from social media agency Protocol.

Local icons like durians, White Rabbit milk sweets, an Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) gantry and a tin of Milo, are used as illustrations on the cards, and even our former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew leads the way as the consistent design on the back of each card, and as the Ace of Spades, of course.

Called 'fifty-two', the deck of cards were created to celebrate Singapore's 52nd birthday. The design and conceptualisation took three months to create and about 250 decks have been printed so far, according to managing director of Protocol Mr Kelvin Kao.

To date, 150 decks have been sold and Protocol is currently restocking. Mr Kao, 36, said the cards are available at selected specialty stores, such as ACTUALLY and Naiise, as well as Protocol's Facebook page. Each pack costs $20. 

It may come across as almost commonsensical to use Steven and Amos as jokers in the deck.

Steven is known for his bizarre online antics, such as calling himself a 'superstar' or dancing around in his underwear, and Amos was convicted in 2015 for making insulting remarks on Christian and Muslim faiths in his videos.

Despite their notoriety, we felt we still had to ask Mr Kao this question: Why these two out of so many other jokers in Singapore?

Mr Kao told AsiaOne that when you think about Singapore, you see it as a "seamless entity, perhaps even verging on sterile".

"So when we get instances like Steven and Amos, they are painted as controversial figures that go against the grain of our society, sticking out like sore thumbs."

So when we get instances like Steven and Amos, they are painted as controversial figures that go against the grain of our society, sticking out like sore thumbs.

- Mr Kelvin Kao, managing director of Protocol

"We picked them as 'jokers' not to condemn them in any way, but rather to open up a conversation."

He added that joker cards are wild cards, with their purpose varying from game to game, which can be beneficial or harmful - and that "it’s a choice".

Yes, the way we choose to act and react in certain ways is entirely a choice for many of us, but it looks like Amos and Steven have no choice this time round but to be the jokers of the deck.

Local agency creates playing cards with typical Singaporean icons

klim@sph.com.sg

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