Sunday 14 February 2016

By 'retiring', Rebecca Lim shows us how not to promote retirement planning

“Too blessed to be stressed.”

That’s what it says on Rebecca Lim’s Instagram profile.

It’s almost like the Mediacorp actress is taunting fate: “My life is so good now. Come at me, bro. Hit me with your best shot.”

Fate obliged.

On Friday, Lim, who won Best Actress at the Star Awards last year, announced on Instagram:
“I’ve decided to do something that will change my life. I have been thinking about it for a while now as I know it has to be done. I’m retiring.”
Retiring? At 29? She can’t even withdraw any of her CPF yet.

Someone gave her this post-showbiz career tip on Facebook: “First thing to do — apply to ISCA as associate member and commence your accountancy profession. Don’t put your accountancy degree to waste.”

That’s not bad advice and very timely since it’s tax season.

And in case you’re wondering, yes, Lim actually has an accountancy degree from Singapore Management University.

Coincidentally, a day before her announcement, an unidentified person won more than $9.5 million in Toto. Singapore Pools said it is the largest amount ever won by a single person for a Toto draw in Singapore.

And it wasn’t even the Hong Bao Draw, which will be held this Friday and has a jackpot of $12 million.

With that kind of money, you could almost afford a plate of nasi lemak at the Food Republic in Vivocity during Chinese New Year.

So local satirical news website New Nation came up with this headline: “Actress Rebecca Lim retires a day after S$9.5 million Toto prize won by one System 7 ticket.”

Which was a good joke.

Except the joke was ruined mere hours later when it was revealed that Lim wasn’t really retiring after all.

The Straits Times reported that Lim had clarified that her Instagram post was actually part of a collaboration with insurance company NTUC Income.

In a video posted on her Facebook page, Lim explained:
“Nope, I’m not leaving my job. I love it too much.

“I have, however, signed a retirement plan with NTUC Income and it’s a relief to know that I’m saving a little each day for my future so that I don’t have to worry when I eventually do retire.

“So in that sense, I’m retiring.”

Nope, it’s not. In no sense is that retiring at all.

I would like to thank everyone for their well wishes. My career is no where near over. But the truth is, we never know...
Posted by Rebecca Lim 林慧玲 on Friday, February 12, 2016

Making light of the lie, Mediacorp magazine 8 Days posted this message online:
“For all of you who really thought that @limrebecca is retiring... Well, fake out! She’s not!

“Turns out the actress is only ‘advocating the mindset of early financial planning so we don’t have to worry when we do retire,’ she just told us over the phone.

“As for the hoo-ha her faux-retirement caused today, Becks says she’s ‘very sorry’ and thus needed to ‘clear the air immediately’.

“More info about her new endorsement with an insurance company will be revealed in a press con on Monday.”
But the deceived public didn’t take the “fake out” as lightly.

Although today is Feb 14, there are no Valentines for Lim (and NTUC Income) on social media.

Someone tweeted: “Rebecca Lim, find a hole today. Go crawl in it and never come out. And drag that stupid NTUC Income ad agency with you.”

Even the generally genial Mr Brown typed in all caps on Facebook:
Ironically, New Nation, which has fooled people with its fake headlines in the past, was also fooled by Lim’s fake “retirement” and had its Toto joke ruined.

Clearly bitter after getting a taste of its own medicine, the website lashed out at Lim: “Your career is officially over in the eyes of ordinary Singaporeans as you have set fire to all the goodwill you’ve cultivated the last few years.”

Even more ironically, Mediacorp news outlets Channel NewsAsia and Today also reported Lim’s retirement as fact and rather tellingly, later removed the online reports when the truth came out.

So it seems Mediacorp was suckered by its own artist’s marketing ploy. A case of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing?

But despite what New Nation says, Lim’s career will probably survive this minor PR misstep as Singaporeans are surprisingly forgiving and forgetful when it comes to our celebrities.

Just look at Jack Neo’s booming film career. It’s like his extramarital affair with model Wendy Chong was never exposed in 2010 and the subsequent scandal never happened.

But if Lim’s acting career is indeed over... well, there’s always accountancy.

She can change her Instagram profile to say: “It’s accrual world out there.”

- Published in The New Paper, 14 February 2016


Humour aside, is it right to do what actress Rebecca Lim did to her fans, and the public?

And it wasn’t even April the first.

Such a publicity stunt, for which she gets paid, was far from justified.

We are all aware of retirement plans and their benefits, and the need to sell them. But is this the way to go about it?

I do believe that when someone has made a name for themselves, and is paid well, there should be some form of social responsibility.

And where is the care and concern that one would associate with a role model?

How will this affect the young and impressionable who actually watch local TV?

This incident reconfirms that we, as a species, by and large, are driven by one thing and one thing only — the desire for money.

The mindset is such that everything is built around it, which is sad.

This controversy has put Ms Lim on the spot.

The key question then is whether controversy really sells. Many think not, but that is left to be seen.

Retiring is a journey and not an end. It's about gaining financial independence to live life to the fullest today and be...
Posted by NTUC Income on Saturday, February 13, 2016

UPDATE: Despite backlash, financial consultants still using Rebecca Lim to promote retirement planning