Alvin and Vivian: Who’s inciting who? 

Alvin and Vivian aren’t inciting most of us; our government is.


Till today, I didn’t pay much attention to Alvin Tan and Vivian Lee (Alvivi). Last night I was in a group where Alvivi were discussed. The group was mixed, cutting across age, gender, race and religion. I learned about what Alvivi did, the responses to date and what these indicate about our society.
Alvivi have been investigated by the police. They have been charged in a Sessions court. They have been charged over a Facebook posting they made. The posting was a photo with a caption:
The photo shows the two of them with beaming smiles. They are well dressed – he in a red Polo T-shirt, she in a printed, mainly white, collared blouse. They are seated at an outdoor table, with parked cars in the background.
There are three bowls on the table.
The centre bowl is a claypot resting in an orange plastic soup plate, indicating it’s hot. Alvin and Vivian each have a white bowl before them. The bowls have been carefully placed so the viewer can see a red and black rooster printed on Vivian’s bowl and a bluish bird, perhaps a chicken, on Alvin’s bowl.
Alvin and Vivian are each holding a piece of taufu (beancurd), with white pale coloured chopsticks.
The caption, in Malay, reads “Selamat Berbuka Puasa, (dengan Bak Kut Teh . . . Wangi, enak, menyelerakan),” which means “Enjoy breaking fast, with Bak Kut Teh, . . . fragrant, delicious, appetizing.”
The caption is in a curly-whirly font, like that commonly used on (Hari Raya) season’s greeting cards.
On the bottom left hand corner are two logos. The first logo reads “Alvivi;” the second includes what looks like the Arabic for “halal,” and the word “Malaysia.”
[“Bak kut teh” is Chinese; in direct translation it means “meat bone tea;” in common usage in Malaysia and Singapore, “bak kut teh” means “pork bone soup.” In Malaysia, the “Halal” logo is issued by Islamic authorities. “Halal certification” is a key element Malaysia’s plans to be a food hub for the Muslim world. ]
Below the two logos is a watermark which reads
What are Alvin and Vivian trying to achieve? First, a little information about them.
Alvin, 25 yrs, a Malaysian, is a law undergraduate at the National University of Singapore (NUS). He’s one of 170 students from 9 countries who earn ASEAN scholarships annually. In November 2012, NUS revoked his scholarship because he made online posts of sexually explicit materials of himself and Vivian. [Considering Alvin’s age, it’s not clear why Alvin is still a law undergraduate.]
Alvin was even discussed in the Singapore Parliament. Singapore’s Education Minister said Alvin’s conduct was “reprehensible and unbecoming of a scholar.”
Vivian, 24 yrs, also a Malaysian, is said to have graduated in October 2012 with a Marketing major from the Multi Media University (MMU) in Malacca, Malaysia.
What are Alvin and Vivian trying to achieve?
I believe they are trying to achieve personal notoriety and to embarrass the Malaysian government.

They are intelligent persons with enough professional knowledge to achieve their goals. They carefully staged the photo; they left “the message” to the imaginations of their readers.

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