Meet Singapore's popular blogger and podcaster, mr brown
July 25, 2007 3:50 PM   Subscribe

A year after a reprimand from the government cost him a weekly writing gig at a local newspaper, popular Singaporean blogger mr brown continues to write and produce humorous podcasts that cover a wide range of topics, including government denials of homelessness, a controversy over selling condoms at a local university bookshop, and a crackdown by neighbouring Malaysia on blogger freedom of speech.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl (14 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
In July 2006, Lee Kin Mun (aka mr brown) wrote a column for the state-owned Singaporean newspaper Today that used humour to criticize recent government policies. A government representative from the Ministry of Information, Communication, and the Arts responded by saying, “It is not the role of journalists or newspapers in Singapore to champion issues, or campaign for or against the Government.” The newspaper responded by cutting Lee’s weekly column, drawing international criticism about lack of press freedom in Singapore. So far, however, the Mr. Brown Show blog and podcast have been allowed to continue, and enjoy considerable popularity in Singapore.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 3:55 PM on July 25, 2007

I heard about this guy on the BBC World Service over a year ago while living in Indonesia and having visited Singapore, his team's voices and imitations of locals is hilariously dead-on.

A classic podcast of his imitates the People's Action party-dominated ("dominated" as in 82 out of 84 seats) discusses the budget for the upcoming year - you can listen in your browser (with mildly NSFW language).
posted by mdonley at 4:28 PM on July 25, 2007

Er, "a classic podcast of his imitates the People's Action Party-dominated Parliament as it discusses....
posted by mdonley at 4:34 PM on July 25, 2007

Here are some photo albums of homeless people in Singapore - lots of older, handicapped people.
posted by mdonley at 4:40 PM on July 25, 2007

mdonley, re: the voices, one thing I love is that the voice for the rude hawker stall man is exactly the same as for the clueless government official!
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 4:41 PM on July 25, 2007

Aw, dis rules. Bookmarked for the next technophobe who gripes that the Internet hasn't delivered on its promise.
posted by grobstein at 5:00 PM on July 25, 2007

Bookmarked the site, and sent the link to my son in Japan. Great stuff! Thanks, hurdy gurdy girl.
posted by figment of my conation at 6:42 PM on July 25, 2007

Excellent post hurdy gurdy girl. Did not know about this guy. It's a great David and Goliath story. And he's so damn funny! Love the Singapore accent, a juicy intersection of Colonial Brit Engrish, Chinese and Indian, a beautiful, Tropical East cadence.

Awesome mrbrown, *waving across cyberspace*, totally respect your cojones for blogging it like you talk it. You rock. Right on! Somebody in NYC is cheering for you.
posted by nickyskye at 7:32 PM on July 25, 2007

Condoms and Singaporean dorms.... ahhhh, the stories I can tell. :-)

When I was back in a certain university that may or may not have been hinted at in the podcast in question, it was an 'open' secret that the gahment (Singlish for 'government') wanted to improve Singapore's sagging growth rate by encouraging more people to stay in campuses. Two of Singapore's universities had expanded their on-campus accomodation considerably, and there was this flurry of articles in the (gahment-minded) press on how dorms are so perfect for meeting your SO. Condoms were, yes, very very openly sold, much more openly than before; in fact, so stark was that transition that a lot of us took this as a sign of greater liberalization in Singaporean society in general.

In short, I'm just surprised that it took _this_ long for someone to complain about all impropah (yes, most of Singapore's prudishness is Victorian in origin) activity in university dorms. I suppose this does prove that we did live in an ivory tower of sorts.

Incidentally, I can say this quite a bit of conviction, but not many folk really bother about locking doors and windows in hostel rooms. The joke, as ever, is that they were following rules; the rule clearly says that if two students of the opposite sex were in the same room at the same time, then the room's door should be open at all times. And so they were.

Me? I, ahhhh, preferred to break some rules sometimes.

Nickyskye: Singlish is a much celebrated dialect that is often unintelligible to non-Singaporeans. It is, however, a fantastic dialect to bargain in, extremely effective in cracking jokes, and unexpectedly useful in getting things done in Singapore.
posted by the cydonian at 1:13 AM on July 26, 2007

Thanks for all the comments everyone! I am glad people are enjoying mr brown--I first found him while doing a search for "Singlish" on YouTube--one side of my family is from Singapore and I miss hearing the way they speak. I found this video, mr brown doing a potted history of Singapore set to Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire." After I stopped laughing, I looked up his website and found a goldmine of Singlish hilarity!

I do think, given Singapore's tight media restrictions, that it's pretty amazing how this podcast has been able to continue to poke fun at the government and provide a lot of much needed political criticism and commentary. In this New Zealand public radio interview, Lee says he thinks the government may be giving the Mr. Brown Show a pass because podcasting is seen by the Singapore government as a "fringe" medium.

[Oh, and I guess I can breathe a sigh of relief now--I was very nervous about making my FPP!]
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:05 AM on July 26, 2007

That should be "first FPP."
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:09 AM on July 26, 2007

hurdy gurdy girl, this is a great first post - I enjoyed it very much - thanks!
posted by madamjujujive at 6:24 AM on July 28, 2007

Wow, thanks madamjujujive!
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:46 AM on July 28, 2007

hurdy gurdy girl: the Mr Brown video is AMAZING. Thanks for this awesome post!
posted by mdonley at 8:16 PM on July 28, 2007

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