The Minister of State for Community & Youth, Alvin Tan, mentioned that Yeo’s consulted the Ministry of Culture, Community & Youth (MCCY) before releasing commemorative drinks with the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s image.
None of the 500,000 limited-edition chrysanthemum tea packets were for sale but aimed to honour Mr Lee, said Mr Tan.
This was in response to Sembawang GRC MP Poh Li San’s parliamentary query. She wondered if using Mr Lee’s image on the drinks contravened guidelines about his name and image usage. Additionally, she questioned the Ministry’s authority to demand withdrawal of such items.
In a follow-up, Ms Poh was concerned about potential disrespect when packets end up as litter. Mr Tan’s reply highlighted MCCY’s stand on promoting responsible disposal and its consideration of public feedback.
On 25 August, a Reddit user likened Mr Lee’s image on the drink packet, shared on the platform, to “a cheap endorsement.” It sparked debate on whether Yeo’s had authorization for the image.
Yeo’s confirmed they sought MCCY’s approval for the packet design. Yet, Mr Lee’s executor revealed no permission was obtained from their end. MCCY later confirmed Yeo’s did consult them, ensuring adherence to guidelines for using Mr. Lee’s name and image.
An MCCY representative pointed to online guidelines, stressing users’ responsibility to comply with intellectual property laws.
Yeo’s CEO, Ong Yuh Hwang, on 2 September, said the commemorative initiative marked Mr Lee’s centenary.
Mr Ong highlighted the departure from their typical packaging design to a green theme, symbolizing Mr Lee’s eco-friendly vision for Singapore. The logo was minimized and relocated.
Mr Ong said that he hoped the design would resonate with Singaporeans, aligning with Mr Lee’s ideals of balancing growth with ecology. Yeo’s collaborated with entities like Gardens by the Bay, National Museum of Singapore, and more to distribute these packets, especially in educational environments.
In 2016, MCCY set guidelines for using Mr Lee’s name and image, allowing identification with the nation but discouraging commercial exploitation or implied endorsement.
On 31 August, Yeo’s introduced the “Heritage Chrysanthemum Brew” on Facebook. The release commemorated Mr. Lee’s role in transforming Singapore.
Yeo’s encouraged sharing photos of Yeo’s LKY100 package with #YeosLKYCentenary to celebrate Mr Lee’s centenary in September, allowing Singaporeans to collectively pay tribute.
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