Rare panda gifts from the Chinese – JJ & KK

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Since our two famous VIPs – very important pandas named Kia Kia and Jia Jia landed on our shores last Thursday, there was much news generated online and offline. Everybody is talking about them. Some support their arrival whilst some may not. In short, there are supporters and opposition to our newly arrived FTs or PRs for a sojourn of 10 yrs. By 2022, both pandas shall return to their place of origin. Let’s welcome them with a “big heart!”

Dr Chan of Dewdrops Notes and few other bloggers have written on our famous panda couple. I feel that Dr Chan’s views reflect many critics. It boils down to the question of huge sum of money involved! Yes, money is the bone of contention. Basically, they are not against the cute furry unique animals from China. They are critical of the arithmetic. Do we extract money if it is a “gift” from a valued friend? That depends on how one looks at it. Nothing is free in this world.

Critics such as Dr Chan may be correct in pointing out the fees, costs, terms and conditions of bringing in those pandas. But I feel that this panda project is worth it. It’s a refreshing event that causes so much interest and excitment.

Firstly, I think that the entire panda project has got no funding from the government. There are few sponsors with Capitaland Hope Foundation being the main contributor. Many people have got the wrong impression that the costs of bringing in the VIPs – Very Important Pandas are borne by the government – hence taxpayers’money. I dont think it’s the case.

Of course, the costs of bringing in the VIPs to our zoo, the $8.6 over million to build their home, tons of bamboo shoot, specialist staff etc cost lots of money. I’m sure the zoo and those smart people involved in the project would have thought about the costs, fees and the means to recoup those costs; hopefully they are able to make a little profit out of it.

If we view this panda project just like any other commercial enterprises where everyone benefits from it in some way, then the entire picture gets clearer. Firstly, pandas are rare and they are found exclusively only in China. Few countries outside China exhibit them unless China “loan” them. We are one of the nine countries to this exclusive panda club. It will certainly provide the needed boost to our tourism industry and bring in fresh visitors to the zoo. The zoo needs to keep having novel exhibits to attract more visitors and repeat visitors to sustain their operations. Something like the “golden monkeys” years ago and now JJKK will defintely add more visitors.

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By investing in JJKK’s home habitat and needs would also create more jobs for the contractors and staff of the zoo. If there is no JJKK, then there will be no corporate sponsors such as Capitaland to inject funds to create a mini panda industry of sort. With construction and preparation for the arrival of JJKK, the multiplier effects and it’s spin-off cannot be underestimated. It enlivens the otherwise dull and lethargic zoo visitor arrival figures and tourism in general. Our tour agencies will now go on an overdrive to promote JJKK to the surrounding regions especially our nearest neighbours like Malaysia or Indonesia. I’m sure they would like to take a closer look at the cute lovable couple. To go to Sichuan province in China is a little difficult than easily coming over here with their family to enjoy our furry VIPs.

Already, some enterprising shops are making use of our latest infatuation with our VIPs to promote their products. Souvenirs such as key chains, soft dolls and even commerative coins are minted to ride on this latest wave of “pandamonia”. It’s good for business and the children to enjoy the exhibits here in our local zoo outside China. I’m also quite curious and would like to snap some pictures of our cute VIPs.

Next, it’s officially stated that the panda project is to mark 20 years of good diplomatic ties with China. The latter is such a huge country that it considers Singapore as an important friend worthy of bestowing a pair of their national treasure marks an important milestone. Of course, there is huge money involved in this friendship but then it also doesnt mean that if you got the money, the Chinese government will extend their national trreasure to you? Let’s be realistic about it. Money is not everything.

The fact that so much publicity is given to the arrival of the pair of VIPs, with even our ex-president, MOS, other VIPs and throngs of students, well wishers and fans welcoming JJKK here show that Singaporeans treat such a rare gift from the Chinese government with enthusiasm and delight. We value the pair of national treasure from China. Imagine, if no one suppports it and with zero publicity; worst still negative actions for example by staging protests, boycott etc, how would the Chinese officials view such sentiments? We do not want such negative sentiments to damage our ties with an emerging superpower do we? It won’t do us any good. In short, do not underestimate the panda project. If our citizens do not support the Chinese government’s rare national treasure, the repurcussions and fall-outs could be enormous.

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Typical cynical comments from netizens

Basically, I feel that if the zoo or the guardians of JJKK could better explain their presence, much negative views and opinions could be deflected. The main unhappiness is the over publicity of the huge amount of money involved viz a viz $8.6 over million home for JJKK. Many thought that this sum of money came from the government or from the taxpayers. They could have been mis-informed or even self imagined it. As in other exhibits the zoo brings in, there bound to be costs – some are more whilst some cost much less. The onus to sustain the costs of operations lies with the zoo and its ability to get sponsors and visitors. So far, our zoo is doing fine. They are run efficiently by a capable team of people.

What do you think of our Chinese pandas (熊猫) ? Let’s hear from you.

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About Alan Tang

I'm a Chinese Singaporean living in the Eastern part of SG. I tweet on current affairs & inspirational quotes. I blog on issues or events if they interest me. I also share some of the interesting jokes, stories or anecdotes from my friends or observations on my blog. Thanks for visiting my blog.
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18 Responses to Rare panda gifts from the Chinese – JJ & KK

  1. Roaring Lion says:

    In ancient China, emperors kept pandas as pets. It is believed according to Chinese books over 2 thousands years that pandas have mystical powers and they could ward off evil spirits and natural disasters.

    In present day, the panda symbolizes peace, good fortune, a relaxed pace, no strife, no stress. I believed these attributes are much needed here. We should thank China for allowing her national treasures to display here.

    Pandas are by nature curious, kind, sensitive and playful by which people are very drawn to them.

    Personally, I welcome JJ and KK to Singapore!

    • Yup. Those pandas are just innocently cute animals. They are neutral. It’s how ppl perceive it as “waste of money.” It’s much mis-understood. It shows that the zoo or it’s PR not doing a good job explaining the sources of funding for this panda project.

    • patriot says:

      Panda is probably more active and playful than the sloth, another rare species.
      As to whether the Panda can ward off evil, let’s see if KK n JJ can further enlarge the big but…….hearts of the leaders.

  2. A Chong says:

    The thing is if China really charges a million US dollars a year for loan of their smelly pandas, and minimum “contract” term is 10 years, is it all worth it? That’s just the loan. I think it is a legitimate question. Who’s paying is a secondary point. There are of course other costs involved. Gintai, what is your personal stand? People respect your views. Even a minister have met you to hear your views. You have to take a stand. As a blogger with influence you have to take a position instead of being vague, ambiguous and then throwing the question to the floor. That is NOT taking a stand, that’s just a weak attempt at trolling.

    • I already mentioned in my post. “Let’s welcome them with a “big heart!”
      Many depend on the panda project for a livelihood due to it’s multiplier effects and spin-offs. It created lots of activities and jobs such as panda souvenirs selling in shops, taxi, tour operators etc benefiting from increase in tourist arrivals. Workers involved in the operation and maintenance over the 10-yr period. From economic standpoint, it certainly adds value. This we can’t deny. That’s my view. Thank you for your comments.

  3. Pingback: Daily SG: 10 Sep 2012 | The Singapore Daily

  4. paul says:

    Loans from china estimated to be 1 million per panda per year, which will means a 20 millions for the 10 years. The hype of pandas arriving in singapore will probably last for at most a few weeks.
    No doubt, contractor will be hired for the maintenance and daily operations but whether can it increase a siginificant numbers of vistors, sales of souvenirs etc? Maybe it will initally but for how long? After 1 year later, will people still remember there are 2 Very important Pandas in singapore and still keen to visit them?
    10 years is a long period of time, let just hope Capitaland Hope Foundation and other sponsors are able to “tahan” until then lest the “gift” become a burden.

  5. Gu says:

    then shouldn’t this post be more correctly titled as “Rare Panda loans (or leases) from the Chinese”?

    • I think you are correct in a way. That leads to another interesting fact. Is your HDB flat owned by you when it’s only 99-yr lease? You paid easily half a million for a “fantastic” view for a small HDB flat subject to so many terms and conditions but is it yours? Just like the rare pandas – on a 10-yr lease. Do you see the similarity? At least for the pandas on a 10-yr loan, it’s up to our ingenuity to generate as much profits as possible after an initial hefty investment.

  6. Yes, Gintai. I totally agree with you that we should welcome them with a “big heart”, albeit the costs involved. Apart from the many benefits you already mentioned, our children and grandchildren would certainly benefit more from a visit to the zoo with the extra VIP around.

    • Yup. Instead of going to Sichuan in China, it’s so convenient to visit them here. Thks to those generous sponsors! How many of us esp children got the time and money to go Sichuan? Hopefully, it won’t lose money for the zoo at the end of the loan. If it makes some money, everybody stands to gain from this venture including children from nearby countries. And you Mr Taxi will have more pax to ferry to the zoo! Good luck.

      • patriot says:

        It is definitely cheaper for Singaporeans and Malaysians to visit KK and JJ in Sin. As for other foreigners, it could and is most likely cheaper and better to see Pandas at their Native Szechuan Province in China. As such, other than local and Malaysian, do not expect tourist to be here just to see KK and JJ.

  7. agongkia says:

    Lau Wang Mai Kua

  8. Seraphim says:

    I am honestly against the import of the 2 pandas.

    It cost 1 million per panda a year just to get them to stay for the next 10 years and they have special needs like environment, care, medication and food like bamboos that cannot be found in Singapore. Those above need to be imported from China and the care taker should be from China as well. I agree that they can increase the zoo’s revenue because of souvieurs and increase in ticket price, but to sustain it for 10 years seems a bit unrealistic.

    The other reason why why I am not supportive of it is because the panda themselves are removed from their habitat and flew on plane to Singapore to be caged up and become tourist attraction. It seems cruel on the poor animal to me.

  9. Chan JY says:

    Once upon a time in ancient Siam, albino elephants were highly prized because they were rare. The Siamese believed that the creatures were sacred and brought good luck to their owners. Anyone finding a white elephant was required to present it to the king. The king could in turn present it as a reward to officials who have performed well. But as it turned out, white elephants bankrupted the recipients of this auspicious gift. Hence, getting a white elephant from the king was really more a punishment than anything else. Today, “white elephant” is used idiomatically to represent something expensive but of no practical value.

    Let us not forget the moral of the white elephant story. It doesn’t really matter who the sponsors are. 羊毛出在羊身上.

    • Lol! Nice story of the white elephant. I used the idiom but didn’t know it’s origin. The Chinese are smart to capitalize on this unique creature.

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