Sunday 9 September 2012

Let's welcome Prince William & Kate like they're giant pandas

You mean their names are not Jia Jia and Liang Teh?

I think someone is missing a major sponsorship opportunity here.

So how excited are you about the two new foreign talents from China coming to Singapore?

Judging by the number of “panda-monium” puns, it seemed that many are indeed thrilled by the arrival of giant panda couple Jia Jia and Kai Kai last week – and they don’t even play table tennis.

The last time there was so much hype about the animal, it knew kungfu and had the speaking voice of Tenacious D’s lead singer.

Just don’t let Jia Jia or Kai Kai near a Ferrari.

But my larger concern is this:

With all this hoopla surrounding China’s “national treasures” on our island, how are we going to match the pomp for the upcoming visit to Singapore by British royalty Prince William and his wife Catherine on Tuesday?

Will there be commemorative stamps issued by Singapore Post and commemorative coins issued by the Monetary Authority of Singapore for the royal couple like for the pandas?

Will Singapore Airlines offer limited-edition plush toy versions of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge?

On their flight here, will the temperature be kept at 18 to 22 deg C and the humidity at 50 to 60 per cent to mimic their natural habitat?

Will they be fed lots of bamboo?

Will they be quarantined in a 1,500 sq m dome enclosure costing $8.6 million in Mandai for a month?

Will Minister of State for Trade and Industry Teo Ser Luck, former President S R Nathan and former Nominated Member of Parliament Claire Chiang be at Changi Airport to wearing neon green vests and holding a banner that says “Singapore welcomes Wills and Kate”?

Anything less would be a slap in Their Highnesses’ faces.

Unlike the pandas, at least the human prince and his wife are more likely to be able to read the banner.

Still, the pandas and the royals may have more in common than you realise, apart from them coming to Singapore in the same month.

For one thing, both the pandas and the royals are couples - as in there’s a boy (Kai Kai, Prince William) and there’s a girl (Jia Jia, Kate Middleton).

For another thing, the royals come from Britain which just hosted the London Olympics last month where Singapore won two bronze medals in table tennis.

The pandas come from China which hosted the Beijing Olympics in 2008 where Singapore won a silver medal in table tennis.

So both the royals and the pandas come from countries that hosted the Olympics where we won at least one medal in table tennis.

Also, Prince William has a brother Harry who was recently photographed naked in Las Vegas.

I don’t know if Jia Jia or Kai Kai has siblings, but they must have relatives back in China and I’m guessing they also enjoy baring it all. (Or rather, "bearing" it all. Smirk.)

So both the royals and the pandas have family members who are not always so keen on clothing.

Finally, remember Mr Teo (who showed up in a neon green vest with Mr Nathan and Ms Chiang holding a banner to greet the illiterate pandas at Changi Airport)?

He reportedly said that having the pandas mate is a KPI, or key performance indicator.

In his speech at the panda arrival ceremony on Thursday, Mr Teo said: “I’m sure many visitors and Singaporeans look forward to seeing Kai Kai and Jia Jia when the panda exhibit opens by the end of the year.

“And we look forward even more to hearing the pitter patter of baby panda feet soon.”

I wouldn’t call it a KPI, but having Prince William and his wife mate during their Singapore visit would certainly be a bonus.

With all the “Kate is pregnant” rumours, it’s safe to say that many are looking forward to hearing the pitter patter of royal baby feet soon.

How cool would it be if those royal baby feet were conceived during the royals’ three days here on our island?

Unfortunately, as Mr Teo himself acknowledged, Singapore is somewhat challenged when it comes to getting people to procreate.

Maybe we’ll have better luck with pandas.

Speaking of which, I’m getting a little thirsty. I think I’ll quench my thirst with a refreshing can of Jia Jia Liang Teh.

I’m available for sponsorship.

- Published in The New Paper, 9 September 2012