Saturday, June 02, 2012

Episode 1349: Brief Sentosa Visit

Went to Sentosa this afternoon to check out the Merlion, hoping to get some insight into the current branding of the Merlion. It was frankly very disappointing. At the attraction itself, there was no mention of the Merlion's origin as a creation of the then STPB. There is a vague reference to a decision being made in the mid-20th century that Singapore needed a new symbol, but that was it. Instead, the Merlion's now morphed into some sort of lucky charm. It's all really mundane, and even the views from the Merlion's head are nothing great, surrounded as the structure is by buildings and shipping containers (always thought it a rare case of bad planning that Sentosa and Pulau Brani ended up right next to each other). Perhaps more surprisingly, there seems to have been a complete failure to capitalise on the Merlion-as-icon beyond kitschy uses as logos or shapes for cookies and magnets. I was expecting some sort of picture book for kids, selling a cutesy story, but nothing of that sort was to be found. No reading material at all, even thought the attached shop had all of the other usual stuff hawked to tourists. Even at the Images of Singapore shop, up several escalators, not a single book about the Merlion itself was to be found. (I did, however, find a copy of Lee Tzu Pheng's Lambada By Galilee & Other Surprises, literally collecting dust in a corner of the shop, which I have now rescued.) Seems like a failure to actually explore the full potential of the icon, even as a tourist object. I mean, not even selling the Firstfruits anthology of poems about the Merlion? Really?

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