I Died When He Proposed ‘Tapping Dat EZ-Link Card’

by Belle Waring on October 31, 2015

Would you like to watch a pro-natalist video from Singapore…and Mentos or something? The answer is sort of that you wouldn’t because it is the single most embarrassing thing in the world. It’s waaaaay more like the Lonely Island’s (awesome) song “I Just Had Sex” than it is like anything remotely appropriate as a domestic policy, er, proposal. But it is real. (Congratulations on the 50 years, Singapore!) I mean, you can see that it’s intended to be funny, yet…

“Aw yeah baby, I want to hang out in your void deck.” THIS WAS A REAL THING. There is a moment where you think, someone had to actively approve of this idea.

Lifted from YouTube comments (!) “Response by my London friends: ‘LOL That’s hilarious!’ Response by Singaporean viewers: ‘HAH? WHAT STROLLER? LIAK BO KIEW!’ It’s terrible when foreigners get the song more than locals. We have a terrible sense of humour.” This is not evidence of a lack of humour per se or anything other than being price-conscious IMO. Relatedly, I saw an ad for OCBC or something on Singapore Airlines: father and young son approach huge carousel and ticket booth manned by improbable moustachioed Irish fellow. “How much?” “One dollar and children under five are free.” “I’d like two tickets then.” Irish guy: “how old is your son?” “Six” Leaning in close, the Irish guy, “you know, you didn’t have to buy him a ticket. I never would have known.” “No,” says the dad looking down at his son’s gleaming, parted hair, “but he would.” I was kind of moved by this commitment to Asian values (I am a soft touch generally) until I realized the ad was ostensibly about a Singaporean refusing a free ticket. Just, no.

ETA: how exactly did they Iggy Azalea that accent up?



Ronan(rf) 10.31.15 at 4:12 pm

But it’s also about a corrupt irish authority figure haphazardly undermining the rules and doling out rewards for ….actually, that’s quite astute.


Rakesh Bhandari 10.31.15 at 5:07 pm

How did Iggy Azalea up her own accent?

Seems like a real tension between Singapore’s liberal abortion laws and this pro-natalist campaign in response to “secular stagnation” ostensibly brought on by demographic collapse. Suggests that anti-abortion sentiment can’t be intimated in pro-life or “fetal” terms but in the terms a dutiful natalism that the government however knows Singapore’s young adults won’t really take seriously.

But the real news is the global reach of Mentos and the ability of this special mint to make anything it touches “cool”.


The Temporary Name 10.31.15 at 5:10 pm

I can’t wait to buy a $900 stroller!


Rakesh Bhandari 10.31.15 at 5:13 pm

Yes, given the high price of a stroller, why not try a laxer immigration policy? The immigrants are more likely to keep their babies in some kind of cheap cloth wrap.


Rakesh Bhandari 10.31.15 at 5:13 pm


Colin Danby 10.31.15 at 5:22 pm

There’s no norm like the heteronorm! Is this gov’t-made with additional sponsorship by Mentos, or some other arrangement?


js. 10.31.15 at 5:38 pm

I am so confused.


Rakesh Bhandari 10.31.15 at 6:13 pm

It seems to be at least govt-sanctioned unlike Janet Jackson lyrics. What happens though to the hetero-norm when it’s about compulsive hetero-sexuality without children or at least below replacement birthrate? And as the hetero-norm changes what else changes?


Lynne 10.31.15 at 6:17 pm

What js said.


Jeff Dickey 10.31.15 at 6:38 pm

To propose an answer to Rakesh Bhandari’s (#8) question, what happens is the economy collapses. It’s already functionally a command economy in Singapore (the Government or Inner Party-controlled, sovereign-wealth-fund-linked companies form an embarrassingly-high proportion of economic activity here). When the “commands” can no longer be carried out, a disturbingly-large number of people here fully expect the self-defined “meritocratic” elite to jet off and enjoy their Swiss standard of living with our money. You’re not allowed to say such things in local media, really; illegal corruption is illegal, after all. But when the future of the world depends on (and rewards) bottom-up innovation and creativity, maintaining growth sufficient to “justify” lavish bonuses becomes increasingly problematic.

In China, since adopting the new post-Mao political and economic model, great “ghost cities” designed for hundreds of thousands if not millions of people each have sprung up, to keep the myth of jaw-droppingly consistent growth alive. Singapore lacks the necessary real estate to do that, of course.


Matt 10.31.15 at 8:22 pm

I think there’s a glitch in the Matrix. All the horrible comments I anticipated about feminism, evopsych, racial extinction, and the evils of immigration are in the Marginal Revolution comments instead of the Youtube comments where I expected them. Since when did Youtube comments become less offensive than those on a moderated blog? What is going on here, Internet?


otpup 10.31.15 at 8:27 pm

Any comment on the follow on video (which seems to be a parody) suggesting Signapore “propose” to Finland?


The Temporary Name 10.31.15 at 9:53 pm

Gee, a Tyler Cowen thread full of Steve Sailer. It’s like a digital curse has finally paid off.


js. 11.01.15 at 5:54 am

Dude, TTN, not cool! I was never going to click on that Marginal Revolution link until @13. And now I need a shower when it’s 2am! Did I mention: not cool?


Ike 11.01.15 at 10:15 am

otpup @12: Well, the pronunciation of the Finnish phrases isn’t bad. Otherwise, WTF? Kinda funny though.

And having once owned a German-engineered $900 stroller, I’ll say that’s the way to go.


Belle Waring 11.01.15 at 10:36 am

Don’t say Sail/ers name too many times or he’ll appear! I remember him from long ago when Matthew Yglesias used to tolerate him in the comments at his (original) blog to a degree I found mystifying.

I read in a WSJ article about the video: “The video does come with an important disclaimer. Only “financially secure adults in stable, committed, long-term relationships should participate,” it advises.” PAP is judging you and your life choices right now tbh.


magari 11.01.15 at 10:37 am

Some of the Singaporean Youtube sketch comedy teams put out a funny video or two, like Wahbanana and Tree Potatoes.


Belle Waring 11.01.15 at 10:39 am

Ike–wait, what does the stroller even DO? So ex, lah. I had to have the kind with a detachable car-seat since we don’t own a car, but it wasn’t that. I am led to understand, by the NYT styles section, that zillion-dollar strollers are the jam, but I just…does it hover?


Belle Waring 11.01.15 at 10:40 am

My kids love Wahbanana! Pretty sure I’ve seen them all. The girl has been in some ‘real’ ads and stuff now.


John Quiggin 11.02.15 at 1:29 am

It says a lot about economists that the immediate question for me is whether Singapore experienced an appropriately timed spike in births. If an ad like this could produce the desired result, I’d say the case for the effectiveness of advertising is proved beyond any reasonable doubt.


Atticus Dogsbody 11.02.15 at 2:41 am

ETA: how exactly did they Iggy Azalea that accent up?

First – Take an Australian accent and lose it.


Rakesh Bhandari 11.02.15 at 3:36 am

I am sure that the ad company would want to retain a statistician or economist who would want to show just that. But even if there had been a perfectly timed spike in births–and let’s assume it was big enough to rule out the null hypothesis– it could be that the ad was merely registering and perhaps to a limited extent reinforcing growing pro-natalist sentiment rather than actually shaping it. I mean, Mentos must have had reason to assume the ad would be received playfully rather than dismissively or even angrily. All that said, I have to read Akerlof and Shiller on phishing to see what researchers are saying about advertising today.


Rakesh Bhandari 11.02.15 at 3:37 am

Losing the Australian accent is only half of what Ms. Izzy did–it’s the one that she picked up that is rather more interesting.


david 11.02.15 at 5:01 am

Quiggin @20

2012 was the Year of the Dragon in the Chinese zodiac, which is associated with a somewhat higher birthrate, even in modern multiracial Singapore. So it’s hard to do an event study.


david 11.02.15 at 5:23 am

Or maybe it was the mentos. Who knows.


Ponder Stibbons 11.02.15 at 4:20 pm

There is a precedent for this, an embarrassing rap by Singapore’s censors in 2007:

I can’t believe they tried to do another ‘cool’ video again after that.


Jeff Dickey 11.02.15 at 4:58 pm

Ponder Stibbons: If you live here long enough (a few weeks would probably be sufficient), you quickly realise that one of the “benefits” of being immune to competition (the perk of totalitarianism) is that there is no benefit for being actually talented. “Meritocracy” here is better translated as “rule by those with the best connections to the existing power structure” than “rule by those who are the best at anything that actually benefits society”.


Belle Waring 11.03.15 at 1:44 am

Pretty sure Ponder either lives or lived in Singapore, so maybe don’t condescend to him so hard.


Pete 11.04.15 at 11:42 am

OK, this video just made my jizz curdle.


Ponder Stibbons 11.05.15 at 5:20 pm

Thanks, Belle. If I believed in meritocracy, I would not have left Singapore.

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