Hokkien dialect entertainment TV shows make a comeback in Singapore with MP appearances

In Singapore, over 80% of Singapore’s population live in some 1 million HDB flats. Naturally, the bulk of 70% voters from the last general election, who voted for the People’s Action Party, would come from the HDB heartlanders.

PAP knows this very well and in recent years, would spare no efforts in increasing the budget of People’s Association (PA) which controls a network of more than 1,800 grassroots organisations, over 100 Community Clubs and 5 Community Development Councils.

The late founding Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, once made a comment about PA’s close relationship with the PAP. At a public forum, Mr Lee commented what some PRC officials had observed when they were visiting Singapore. He said, “They (PRCs) discover that the People’s Action Party (PAP) has only a small office in Bedok. But everywhere they go, they see the PAP – in the RCs (residents’ committees), CCCs (citizens’ consultative committees), and the CCs (community clubs).”

When PAP’s percentage vote dropped drastically to 60% during 2011 GE, PA’s budget suddenly increased substantially thereafter. The followings were the allocated budget to PA for its “One People, One Singapore” mission to, so-called, promote “racial harmony” and “social cohesion” over the last decade:

  • 2010 – $ 347m
  • 2011 – $ 352m
  • 2012 – $ 498m (budget starts expanding rapidly after PAP garnered lowerst votes of 60% in 2011 GE)
  • 2013 – $ 613m
  • 2014 – $ 776m
  • 2015 – $1002m (record-breaking budget coincided with SG50 – PAP scored 70% in 2015 GE)
  • 2016 – $ 898m
  • 2017 – $ 842m
  • 2018 – $ 712m
  • 2019 – $ 588m

Hokkien TV shows make a comeback on Ch 8

No doubt, a lot of the HDB heartlanders who vote for PAP do watch the free-to-air broadcast Mediacorp programmes especially those channel 8 shows. PAP knows this. Hokkien shows supposed to be removed from TV by the late Lee Kuan Yew now reappear on channel 8 every Friday, specially to target those heartlanders who can’t speak or understand Mandarin or English well.

The shows would all speak well of the government policies showing that the PAP government really cares for the people. Funnymen popular with the heartlanders, like Jack Neo and Mark Lee, are featured to explain government policies and sometimes PAP MPs themselves would appear in cameo appearance in these shows, providing powerful imagery and confidence to these heartlanders, like MP Baey Yam Keng last year:

The re-introduction of Hokkien TV shows on channel 8 actually started in Sep 2016 after the 2015 GE.

At the time, Minister of State for Communications and Information Chee Hong Tat said, “Many seniors enjoy watching drama serials on TV. The storytelling format of dramas makes them more interesting, and can also help to enhance understanding and recall for the audience.”

“Our seniors form a large part of the audience for the time slot dedicated to dialect programming,” Mediacorp’s Head of Family Segment Irene Lim said on the collaborative effort with Chee’s ministry to produce an “info-educational drama series for seniors”.

In one instance, Information Media Development Authority (IMDA) under MCI also came out to defend the re-broadcasting of dialect shows, saying, “Dialect broadcasts are not new; we have always had them for older Chinese Singaporeans.”

But IMDA forgot to mention that they were banned on TV by the late Lee Kuan Yew since 1979 when he was alive.