'Shrek with dragon's mouth': Netizens mock centrepiece of CNY decorations in Chinatown

Sherlyn Sim
The Straits Times
Jan 20, 2024

The dragon centrepiece of Chinatown’s Chinese New Year (CNY) decorations has stirred up mixed reactions on social media, with some netizens likening it to cartoon character Shrek and even Japanese comedian Pikotaro.

A photo uploaded on Facebook page Complaint Singapore shows a large red-and-orange dragon with its claws outstretched, eyes widened and mouth agape.

Some netizens reacted to the photo with amusement, while others defended the design of the dragon.

A Facebook user said: “I’ve never seen a dragon before but I’m quite sure this is not it.”

Another said the dragon looked like “Shrek with a dragon’s mouth”, while some thought it resembled Pikotaro, who stormed the world with his hit Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen, or PPAP.

A netizen wrote on Facebook: “Let’s wait for the dragon to undergo plastic surgery before CNY day.”

But some defended the dragon design, citing that it is only unflattering from some angles, and looks better lit up at night.

“Maybe (the design) was supposed to be an eccentric and funny style,” wrote a user of Facebook.

Another netizen said the designers cannot satisfy everyone and urged those who can contribute CNY decor ideas to volunteer and help.

The dragon centrepiece was designed by 13 students from the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD).

This is the 13th year that SUTD and its students have been involved in the light-up.

In response to The Straits Times’ queries, the design team said it is aware of the online comments and will strive to improve.

SUTD student Gan Bei Ru said: “We are of course quite worried about the public sentiment every year, but I guess we will take it with an open heart.

“With every bad comment, we take it as a learning point and move on from them to improve our next design.”

SUTD lecturer Zheng Kai, who guided the student designers, said it is important to give credit to the students for their team spirit.

“I think it’s never easy to work on design with a team, but when they come together and complement each other to present a final deliverable design that they are proud of, it is a testament to their teamwork, bond and skills,” Dr Zheng said.

On Jan 19, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong launched the annual CNY celebrations during the street light-up and opening ceremony held at Kreta Ayer Square.

He was joined by the MPs for Jalan Besar GRC – Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo, Mr Heng Chee How, Central Singapore District Mayor Denise Phua and Dr Wan Rizal.

The festive lights will come on nightly until March 9 in New Bridge Road, Eu Tong Sen Street, South Bridge Road and Upper Cross Street.

The celebrations will feature activities like a festive fair, weekend stage shows, a countdown party and a lion dance competition.

The countdown party will be held at Kreta Ayer Square on CNY Eve, on Feb 9 at 10pm.

Previous iterations of CNY decorations at Chinatown have also faced mixed reactions from netizens.

In the Year of the Rabbit in 2023, one large rabbit figurine was mocked online for appearing to be answering nature’s call.

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More items were placed on stage to partially obscure it.

In 2019, Chinatown welcomed the Year of the Pig with lanterns in the shape of a family of eight pigs – the tallest of which was 12m high.

Netizens said the massive pig lanterns looked more “dirty” than festive, “slightly bleary-eyed” and “scary”.

Former MP Lily Neo, who was then adviser to Jalan Besar GRC Grassroots Organisation (Kreta Ayer-Kim Seng), said the structures would look better lit at night.

The Straits Times

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