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The Leader: Story of coincidental friendship and purposeful mutual respect between people from very different places

THE LEADER’, a story of coincidental friendship and purposeful mutual respect between people who have come from very different places. The film is a continuation of the #WhyBeTowkayTan series, the first film ‘Reunion’ was debuted early last year.

#WhyBeTowkayTan is an ongoing initiative that hopes to shed light on the many hidden viewpoints that Singaporeans often miss out on when we interact with foreigners who have come to work or live here led by emerging filmmaker, Lincoln Chia and kickstarted by local video agency Sproud.

The campaign returns this year with continued support from National Integration Council.

The #WhyBeTowkayTan project hopes to share perspectives that will encourage kinder, more open and empathetic conversations about newcomers in our country through storytelling and film.

When asked what inspired Lincoln, the Creative Director of #WhyBeTowkayTan to embark on this project, he said, “I always had foreigner friends in school. We studied together, ate together, learnt about each other’s cultures together. I began to empathize (with them) after a while. I thought about how it’d be like if I were the foreigner in another country. Would I want to be included or treated like an outcast? That was really how my interest in the issue of social integration began.”

“I made friends who were not like me, who didn’t come from where I came from. I took a mile in their shoes,” he added.

When asked who is this Towkay Tan, Mr Lincoln said that the protagonist in the movie is an old man who is also an owner of a kopitiam.

Mr Towkay planned a holiday abroad with his family and needed his employee, a PRC migrant to help run his kopitiam while he was gone. The latter is a new hire, and is unfamiliar with local ‘kopi lingo’. Frustrations ensue because of this, but Towkay Tan witnessed something that made him change his attitude.

The movie was made as migrant workers in Singapore have seen a rise in numbers since the late 2000s.

“Whether this is a topic that is often brought up in the General Elections, amongst locals searching for a job or ringing in the general population’s complaints about overcrowded public areas, this topic is here to stay,” Mr Lincoln said.

‘The Leader’ addresses the issue of social integration by telling a story of coincidental friendship and purposeful mutual respect between its characters.

The Organiser stated that to kick off the online launch of ‘The Leader’, an event to celebrate International Friendship will be held in Our Juniors’ Schoolhouse, as part of its partnership with G8 Education Singapore.

“This 2-hr event will commemorate the importance of fostering multi-ethnic friendships with the making and exchanging of friendship bands, story telling and viewing of the short film,” it said.

The Organiser noted that traditionally, friendship bands represent a commitment of care, affection and love between friends.

“In a world that is becoming increasingly conflicted and witnessing the building of walls between different interest groups, ‘social integration’ can no longer afford to be a term hung loosely on the lips,” it said.

The Organiser said that #WhyBeTowkayTan is a reminder of the most crucial questions – are we willing to open our hearts and show kindness to someone unfamiliar, someone we don’t understand at first, someone ‘foreign’?

In an interview session with Mr Lincoln, he stressed that #WhyBeTowkayTan is a neutral campaign, adding that they do not take sides. It was not set up agree or disagree with either side. The fact that people are moving around the world and becoming migrants is plain for all to see. I wanted to point this out in a way that was easy for my audiences to understand. I wanted fellow local and migrants in Singapore to see this clearly and think about how we should treat each other as fellow residents in Singapore. I wanted it to be a starting point to collect opinions and perspectives.

“It was not set up agree or disagree with either side,” he said. The fact that people are moving around the world and becoming migrants is plain for all to see. I wanted to point this out in a way that was easy for my audiences to understand. I wanted fellow local and migrants in Singapore to see this clearly and think about how we should treat each other as fellow residents in Singapore. I wanted it to be a starting point to collect opinions and perspectives.

Mr Lincoln pointed to the fact that that people are moving around the world and becoming migrants is plain for all to see. I wanted to point this out in a way that was easy for my audiences to understand. I wanted fellow local and migrants in Singapore to see this clearly and think about how we should treat each other as fellow residents in Singapore. I wanted it to be a starting point to collect opinions and perspectives.

“I wanted to point this out in a way that was easy for my audiences to understand. I wanted fellow local and migrants in Singapore to see this clearly and think about how we should treat each other as fellow residents in Singapore. I wanted it to be a starting point to collect opinions and perspectives,” he said.