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.
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.
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.