A team of new mascots introduced by Singapore’s government to raise public awareness about coronavirus measures has been shown the exit after the superheroes ended up offending football fans instead.
The government said it received “quite a lot of feedback” on the five characters dubbed the “Virus Vanguard” and is now reviewing the campaign.
“We are sorry if we offended anyone,” it said on its Facebook page.
“As this is the first time we are exploring this content format, we appreciate your patience.”
It went on to say that the Virus Vanguard is a collaboration with the Band of Doodlers — an art collective — to create a “comic series to convey different aspects” of the circuit breaker measures.
The characters had included “Fake News Buster”, a superhero who “wields the Mallet of Truth”, and “Dr Disinfector”, whose backstory was that she was shrunk to the size of a micro-organism in a failed experiment and “unwittingly flushed” down the toilet by her colleagues.
The controversy, though, seems to have erupted after “MAWA Man”, the Manchester United-loving superhero who hates everything associated with the Liverpool Football Club.
MAWA stands for Must Always Walk Alone, a parody on Liverpool’s motto You’ll Never Walk Alone (YNWA).
His bio reads:
“MAWA Man is a fanatical Manchester United fan who grew up in the 80s when Liverpool kept winning titles and he was constantly taunted by his two Liverpool fan brothers. This made him despise everything Liverpool including their motto You’ll Never Walk Alone (YNWA).
“His hatred for Liverpool so far exceeds his love for Man Utd that it manifested as a telekinesis power in MAWA Man to push objects and people through his eyes.”
He has the ability to repel both people and objects but there’s one weakness.
He ‘cannot stop Man Utd fans from gathering as he will be compelled to join them’.
The Liverpool supporters in Singapore have since unanimously condemn the character MAWA Man and request for it to be withdrawn from this campaign.”
A petition has attracted over 500 signatures.
The ‘Virus Vanguard’ was first introduced to the public via a Facebook post on Sunday, before it was launched on Monday — the same day that a record 1,426 cases of Covid-19 were reported in Singapore.
Facebook user Josie Kay, posting on the Gov.sg post, said that there were “better ways to spend taxpayers’ money”.
Another user, Yeong Cheng Ng, said that the campaign is “just a comic joke”.
“No wonder people don’t take your advice seriously,” the Facebook comment read.
Others have had to explain about the campaign to friends from overseas who have heard about it.
Facebook user Hon Liang said that it was “embarrassing” when international medical colleagues sent him messages to ask about the “Virus Vanguard”.
The number of daily coronavirus cases in the city state is nearing the 10,000 mark, and it was spurred by a surge in infections among migrant workers.