'Majulah' rally call sparks debate on national identity


It is a pretty big demand - to ask viewers to watch an eight-minute- long video and not only share it, but also believe in its message and move one step closer towards attaining your national identity.

Is this sequence of events possible? One group certainly hopes so.

We Are Majulah, made up of six dedicated members, released a video titled I Will Not Die For Singapore last week. (The twist: They will live for it.)

It asks citizens of the Republic to reflect on what it means to be Singaporean, and rally around the word "Majulah". (See the full interview on page A12.)

"If we choose it, it can be built on three principles - ownership, courage and compassion," says former radio DJ Divian Nair.

How can this word be used? "Compassion, in the way we encourage one another when we say 'Majulah, my friend, it's going to be OK'," he says helpfully.

The video, though shot simply, has an air of melodrama reminiscent of those produced during the Republic's Golden Jubilee so much so that viewers are left wondering if it is part of an SG50 series.

"We are not sheep to be herded, we are not deer to be hunted, we are lions who will roar in the face of adversity together," he says emotionally.

The clip has so far garnered about 450,000 views and generated more than 20,000 likes, comments and shares. It has also provoked a wide range of responses.

"Thank you. This is beautiful," commented Facebook user MA Putri.

"Yawn," said another user.

In a blog post, freelance journalist Kirsten Han said: "A 'national identity' created by a campaign is not an identity. It is propaganda. When you try to foster an environment in which people say 'Majulah' to one another over a cup of kopi, you are not creating a shared ideal, but a political slogan."

One opposition politician even went as far as to call the message a fascist one. "Majulah just appeals to our emotions without giving us a good reason why we should defend Singapore," says Mr Kenneth Jeyaretnam from The Reform Party.

Prominent blogger Lee Kin Mun, also known as Mr Brown, created a spoof video in an attempt to popularise a word of his own.

"Basket can be used to express direction. 'Excuse me, this tissue paper, where can I throw? Basket," says Lee.

"So, let us use 'basket' in our everyday lives because we are Singaporean, OK?" he adds.

Whether you subscribe to We Are Majulah's message or not, there's no denying that the video has generated some discussion on the issue of national identity among Singaporeans.

That, in itself, seems indicative of a job well done.


If you are following the US presidential election and type in www.JebBush.com, it might surprise you to learn that you will be redirected to US Republican candidate Donald Trump's website.

"Jeb forgot to renew the rights to his domain name for his website. Guess who bought the website? #Trump2016," said user @P0TUSTrump in a Tweet which was trending last week.

There are several things that stand out in this Tweet.

First, @P0TUSTrump is an unofficial account and is not related to candidate Trump who Tweets from @realDonaldTrump.

"The campaign is not involved (in this website redirect)," said a Trump spokesman earlier.

Second, www.JebBush.com is not the official site of US candidate Jeb Bush, who runs his campaign over at www.Jeb2016.com.

Third, www.JebBush.com is owned by an Australian firm that is in the business of registering and maximising revenues on domain names.

This episode underscores the tenet that most things online cannot be taken at face value.

Such shenanigans are not new either. Here are a couple of examples to show how convoluted things might get: www.jebbushfor- president.net is an anti-Bush site, while www.jebbushforpresident. com is run by a gay couple about their lives together. Heading to TedCruz.com - which at first glance might lead netizens to believe belongs to Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz - it asks people to pledge their support for US President Barack Obama.


Not content with just getting behind the wheel drunk, a 24-year-old American woman also decided to broadcast her lack of common sense to the world.

Last October, Whitney Beall used Twitter's live streaming app Periscope to document her night of partying in Florida.

"Let's have fun, let's have fun," she screamed. "I'm driving home drunk - let's see if I get (caught)," she added.

Dozens of people watched her stream. Some users sent her messages to stop, while others called the police. Lakeland police viewed the footage and correctly guessed where Beall was. Her car, which had one flat tyre, had hit a curb by the time they got to her.

"The streaming Periscope video highlights the dangers of driving while intoxicated, through the eyes of a drunk and irresponsible young adult," they said later on Facebook.

Beall pleaded no contest in her sentencing last week. Reports said the prosecutors deliberately made sure the punishment for her was harsher than usual, as an example.


This article was first published on Feb 21, 2016.
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