[Updated on Wednesday 15 May 2014 12am: Adding details about MDA classification of video toward the end of this story]
“The video may be raw, but so is your passion. Keep up the good work!!!”
In a Facebook post on the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) page on Wednesday, these words defended members of its youth wing for producing a video that was recently slammed online for sounding “robotic”.
The video, screened during a party convention last year, went viral after it was posted on Facebook page Must Be Singapore. It was originally uploaded onto PAP’s YouTube channel on 23 April.
“We would like to take this opportunity to thank our YP activist for their tireless work on the ground over the years. We did not expect that our humble (raw and unpolished) in-house production would go viral like this,” said in the post, which also highlighted comments from other Members of Parliament.
Minister of Manpower Tan Chuan-jin said, “Video may be raw and unpolished, but your service to our people is real and sincere. Many of us see that week in week out, and in-between weeks as well. Keep it up! Jiayou!”
Tampines MP Baey Yam Keng said, “It [the video] wasn’t meant to be a slick corporate video. It was raw but the commitment was real.”
The video shows a montage of aspiring politicians trying to drum up passion for public service.
The 4 minute and 44 second video showed them expressing their motivation to “re-ignite the passion of servant leadership”, “re-enforce our heritage that we are the party for ALL Singaporeans” and “re-establish emotional connect (sic) with Singaporeans”.
Unfortunately, many viewers found that the youngsters sounded anything but passionate and emotional.
“Sad to see youths talking like parrots and reading scripts with bad diction and pronunciation,” says a Caroline Thomas Lingham in a comment left on Must Be Singapore’s FB post of the video.
“And here kids you find yourself a bunch of brainwashed young adults. They even sound like robots. Amazing,” says Singapore celebrity YouTuber Hirzie Zulkiflie on the same page.
While it was painful to watch the video in full for some, others found it hilarious.
Local Malay actor Ahmad Stokin said, “Whoaaaaaa!!! Sorry people I can’t help it but laugh.”
Still others raised questions online about whether or not the clip could be seen as a party political film, which in Singapore is illegal.
As defined in Singapore's statutes, a "party political film" is one that is an advertisement made by or on behalf of a political party or body in Singapore, or its branch or subsidiary, or which is directed toward any political end. Anyone who produces or distributes a party political film is by law liable to face a fine of up to $100,000 or a jail term of up to two years.
When contacted on the matter, though, a Media Development Authority (MDA) spokesperson told Yahoo Singapore that it received the YPAP video for classification earlier this year, and it was submitted to the independent Political Films Consultative Committee, chaired by former senior district judge Richard Magnus and "comprises prominent members of the public".
The committee assessed that the video met one of the Film Act's statutory exclusions, however, namely that it is "a film without animation and dramatic elements" that is "composed wholly of a political party’s manifesto or declaration of policies or ideology" and "made by or on behalf of that political party".
The MDA pointed out that other videos like this were also not classified as party political films -- raising the example of a PAP film in 2009 entitled "For I am a Young Singaporean" as well as a Workers' Party film in 2010 called "For People, Nation, Future". The Young PAP clip was then given a "PG" rating.
Watch the video to judge for yourself.