SINGAPORE - The use of an image of Singapore founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew on a drink packet has drawn criticism online, with some detractors questioning if this was approved by the authorities.
Local food and beverage brand Yeo's - which produced the limited-edition chrysanthemum tea packets - has confirmed that it consulted the authorities for the drink's packaging design.
On Aug 25, a Reddit user posted a photo of the drink packet on the social media website, likening the use of the late Mr Lee's image on its packaging to "a cheap endorsement". A reader of The Straits Times also asked if Yeo's had sought the authorities' approval for the use of the image for the packaging.
In response to ST's queries, the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) confirmed on Thursday (Sept 7) that Yeo's had consulted it on its initiative to ensure that it was in line with guidelines on the use of Mr Lee's name and image.
An MCCY spokesman pointed to the guidelines on the ministry's website, adding that it is the responsibility of users to ensure that their use of Mr Lee's image is in line with intellectual property laws.
Yeo's chief executive Ong Yuh Hwang said last Saturday, in response to ST queries, that the company had consulted MCCY to ensure that its "latest initiative to commemorate the centenary year of Mr Lee Kuan Yew's birth" was in line with the published guidelines on the use of his name and image.
"None of the 500,000 limited-edition packets of our popular chrysanthemum tea are available for sale, but are given away free," he said.
"When designing the packet, we deliberately abandoned the usual brand identity of the product, including the bright yellow and red colours and the prominent position of the logo.
"In the commemorative packaging, the green colour was used to convey Mr Lee's visionary role in transforming Singapore into a green city. The Yeo's logo was also reduced (in size) and moved from the centre to the bottom of the packaging.
"We hope that Singaporeans will see this as a gesture on Yeo's part to unify the community around the important value of balancing economic growth with environment protection that the late Mr Lee had imparted."
Mr Ong added that Yeo's had found partner organisations to distribute the commemorative packs "in an educational setting". These partners include Gardens by the Bay, the National Museum of Singapore, Children's Museum Singapore, National Parks Board, army camps, Safra clubs and schools.
In 2016, MCCY issued broad guidelines on the use of Mr Lee's name and image, allowing them to be used "for purposes of identifying with the nation" and not for "commercial exploitation or (to) be assumed or taken to indicate any kind of official endorsement of products or services".
ALSO READ: 'He lived and breathed Singapore': Immersive exhibition on Lee Kuan Yew's life and legacy aims to inspire young Singaporeans