Not to be outdone by the Danes who’ve decided to send away their Little Mermaid on a 6 month excursion to Shanghai next year, Singapore is now thinking of sending its Merlion to the 2010 World Expo too.
For now, nothing has been confirmed but the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) is also thinking of having Chinese artists design a new Merlion to swap with the original one during the Expo. Why, you ask? Because the Danes are also doing so — a ‘modern’ Chinese interpretation of the Little Mermaid will overlook the Copenhagen port while the original mermaid is on display in Shanghai next year.
Contrary to popular belief and what guide books tell you, the Merlion is not a mythical creature to be found in the legends of ancient Singapore. It was created by a certain Fraser Bunner, a member of the STB’s “Souvenir Committee” in 1964, so that Singapore too could sell millions of fridge magnets, key chains and t-shirts to clueless tourists.
The thoroughly pissed-off chief designer of the Singapore pavilion, Tan Kay Ngee, told the Shanghai Daily that the Merlion had nothing to do with the Expo’s city theme and objected to the STB’s messing about with his brainchild — a two-storey 3,000-square-meter structure with an “Urban Symphony” theme.
Earlier this month, the Merlion was struck by lightning and a good part of its head was chipped off. Online chatrooms were set abuzz by superstitious Singaporeans wondering if the lightning strike was a bad omen for the city-state which faces the possibility that its trade-dependent economy may shrink by up to 10% this year. One journalist, ostensibly suffering from a slow news day, wrote an entire report on what geomancers and fengshui masters had to say about the lightning strike.
Alfred Poon Keng Hoi, assistant director of the Singapore Tourism Board, has declined to reveal the cost of the Singapore pavilion, saying only that the financial crisis has not had any impact.
Meanwhile the Shanghai Daily appears to be the only newspaper that has reported on the Merlion’s possible rendezvous with the Little Mermaid. All of Singapore’s media outlets have remained curiously silent on the STB’s plans.
Previously on Shanghaiist
Danish lawmakers pissed off at Little Mermaid’s six-month move to Shanghai