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HomesingaporeUse of Lee Kuan Yew's image on Yeo's commemorative drink packets 'respectful':...

Use of Lee Kuan Yew's image on Yeo's commemorative drink packets 'respectful': Alvin Tan

SINGAPORE: The use of an image of Singapore’s founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew on a drink packet is respectful, Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth Alvin Tan said on Tuesday (Oct 3).

Mr Tan was replying to a parliamentary question filed by MP Poh Li San (PAP-Sembawang) asking if the use of Mr Lee’s image on a local company’s commemorative packet drinks contravened the guidelines set out on the use his name and image, and if so, whether the authorities could demand the distribution of the product be withdrawn.

In August, local food and beverage brand Yeo’s announced it was giving limited-edition chrysanthemum tea packets with the image of Mr Lee to commemorate the centenary of his birth.

The Yeo’s LKY100 Chrysanthemum Tea was to pay tribute to Mr Lee’s contribution in transforming Singapore into a garden city, Yeo’s said. 

However, the move drew criticism online, with some commenting that Mr Lee’s image was being exploited on commercial products. Others pointed out that the drink packets would be thrown into bins after use. 

In parliament, Mr Tan said that Yeo’s had consulted the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) to ensure that it was in line with the published guidelines on the use of Mr Lee’s name and image. 

According to the MCCY’s guidelines, the name, image or likeness of the late Mr Lee should not be used by individuals or private organisations for commercial or publicity purposes, nor to suggest any kind of official endorsement of products or services. 

The ministry also said on its website that individual and private organisations using Mr Lee’s name or image for purposes of identifying with the nation are not required to seek approval “as long as it is in accordance with all laws and the guidelines”.

“MCCY assessed that the use of Mr Lee’s image on the commemorative drinks packet was respectful because the intent was to highlight Mr Lee’s contribution to the transformation of Singapore into a green city,” said Mr Tan.

“Yeo’s also clarified that the commemorative packet drinks were not available for sale, but were being distributed for free.”

Yeo’s chief executive Ong Yuh Hwang previously told The Straits Times that the company had consulted MCCY to ensure that its initiative was in line with the guidelines on the use of his name and image.

In a reply to a critical Facebook comment on its Sep 11 post on the limited edition drink, Yeo’s said its special chrysanthemum brew was not a commercial initiative and would be given away for free to “celebrate Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s visionary role in transforming Singapore into a city in a garden that fuses nature with the urban landscape”. 

“Many young Singaporeans may not be aware of this and we wanted this to be an educational campaign on the occasion of the 100th year of his birth. We had deliberately chosen not to use our normal brand colours … as we wanted to drive home the green message rather than sell products,” Yeo’s added in its reply. 

In a supplementary question, Ms Poh pointed out that the packet drinks would be thrown into trash bins or become litter. She asked how MCCY would ensure there was “no undue disrespect” to Mr Lee if packet drinks or similar commercial products were allowed. 

Mr Tan said in reply that the public is advised to dispose of the drinks in an “appropriate and responsible manner” and added that MCCY would take public feedback into consideration in future.

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