SINGAPORE - Popular travel blogger Nuseir Yassin, better known as the founder of Nas Daily, reiterated in a Facebook post on Thursday (Aug 30) that his viral videos on Singapore were not sponsored.
The 26-year-old, famous for his one-minute clips that are uploaded daily, was responding to critics who claim that he had been paid to produce the video series.
These include Why I Hate Singapore, in which he explains that he is jealous of Singapore's world-class food and racial and religious harmony, and one introducing Changi Airport as the world's best airport.
He also posted videos about the lives of ordinary Singaporeans titled Crazy Poor Asians, referencing the hit Hollywood movie Crazy Rich Asians by Singapore-born author Kevin Kwan, the freegan movement here, as well as a feature on a swim school for babies.
The videos have since racked up between 1.7 million and 8.3 million views each, with the most watched being How Singapore Cleans, a video on the country's landfill system.
Some netizens claimed that the videos, which came with disclaimers that they are not sponsored, largely focused on the positive aspects of Singapore as they were paid for by the authorities.
They also implied that the videos were veiled advertisements and questioned Mr Yassin on how much he was paid for them.
One example was Facebook user Lee Yew Hoong, who asked: "Was wondering, how much did the (government) pay him?"
In response, Mr Yassin said: "My videos in Singapore are 100 per cent not sponsored by anyone. I came here by myself, spent my own money, to make my own videos about your country. And I need to make sure everyone is aware of that."
He added that he felt disheartened that his works was being discredited due to "unfounded allegations".
He wrote that he wanted to focus on the positive and showcase the best of the world "because mainstream media focuses far too often on the negative".
He had echoed this sentiment during an interview with The Straits Times' executive editor Sumiko Tan, where he emphasised that Nas Daily focuses on the positive as he wants to show people "what's best in a way that's respectful and in a way adds some value".
Yassin's defenders also chimed in on the over 1,000 comments that his post had garnered.
Facebook user Ezen Ho said: "The only reason why these videos look sponsored is because they seem to dig deeper into infrastructure or places that people think requires access.
"But I'm guessing the fact is that when you make an outreach call to your followers... everyone comes forward with their own contacts and networks to help you get the data, the facts, the best shooting location and hideouts.. that's not sponsored, that's called influence! "
Mr Yassin, who departs Singapore on Sunday, hosted his largest spontaneous meet-up with his online followers last week outside the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
At least 700 people turned up on just a day's notice.
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.