Yellow Ribbon Project
PR Assignment 1 Background Sheet: Generating Yellow Ribbon Project Campaign Awareness 1. About the Organization: Singapore Prison Services Singapore Prison Services (SPS) is a division of the Singapore Police Force that concentrates on the care and rehabilitation of prisoners who have committed social or criminal offences. The organization does not merely concentrate on housing and providing guidance for inmates while they are in remand, it is also dedicated to ensure that no repeat offences ensue.
Thus, a major portion of their efforts also concentrate on providing inmates with basic employment skills in hopes of preventing past criminal behaviour from surfacing upon their release into society. This indicates that the SPS provides preventive and after-care measures to maintain former prison inmates compliance with the law as much as possible. (Source: http://www. prisons. gov. sg/about_us. html) 2. About the PR Situation
In 2005, SPS services realized that former inmates released into society faced social stigma in the form of negative public opinions of being ex-offenders and are often denied employment or rejected by society. Such public opinions are harmful and repressive. Seitel (1998, pp50) describes Public Opinion as the aggregate of many individual opinions on a particular issue that affects a group of people by forming consensus or popular attitudes and thoughts. The role of the PR practitioner then is to positively influence an individual’s attitude.
As seen in the above definition, public opinions represent popular thoughts that can prove an inmate’s re-integration into society a daunting task. Without the means of finding acceptance or a proper means of living, many relapse back into a life of crime, a paradox that can be resolved through a public relations campaign that aims to educate and seek acceptance. As such, the Yellow Ribbon Project as a public relations campaign in a long-term program that sought to change public perceptions of ex-offenders was launched in order to deliver a second chance.
In this situation, the SPS has been providing culinary training to a group of inmates in conjunction with Raffles Hotel (Singapore) that has culminated in a cooking competition. A renowned chef has been at helm in training them and he has marvelled at their ability to pick up skills in a short time. The newsworthiness of this initiative begins with prison inmates partaking in a grand cooking competition not unlike the Iron Chef series.
Thus, a Media release highlighting the background of the cooking competition and a feature article in the form of a personality profile written by an SPS Public Relations Executive will be provided for the purposes of fulfilling this assignment. 3. Reasons for Using PR Communication: 3. 1 Media Release: It is deemed that to generate positive publicity and awareness of the ‘bizarre’ cooking competition in conjunction with this year’s Yellow Ribbon Project (YRP), a media release will be sent to newspaper editors in Singapore in hope that the story will be printed and generate interest and positive awareness.
A media release has been described by Seitel (1998, pp175) as a document of record to state an organization’s official position or to influence a publication to write favourably about the material discussed and stimulate editors to cover a story. As readers tend to perceive news articles with more credibility, it is hoped that the use of a media release information transformed into a news article will fulfil the communicative objectives of the YRP better in terms of reach and credibility than using an advertisement or provision of information on the organization’s website. 3. Feature Article-Personality Profile: For the second communication tool, a personality profile of a former prison inmate who has found moderate success as a food hawker will be written by an SPS Public Affairs executive and published in a local Singapore Newspaper, The Straits Times special edition that covers the YRP in October. In addition, the personality profile will also be posted on the SPS website for maximum coverage. A feature article has been described by Seitel (1998, pp203) as articles found in magazines or newspapers that are the opposite of hard news items, often light, humorous or enlightening.
In this scenario, the feature article is utilized to disseminate less newsworthy (there is less news-worth in a story about a former convict turned cook) information in more subtle ways to break misconceptions that ex-offenders, like leopards, never change spots. The feature article is thus useful when less important information needs to be conveyed to the publics of a PR campaign that nevertheless, represents a supporting communication device in meeting campaign objectives. References:
Seitel, FP, 1998, The Practice of Public Relations, 7th edn, Prentice-Hall, NY, USA. FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (LOGO) INMATES SHOWCASE CULINARY TALENT AT FIRST-EVER YELLOW RIBBON COOKING COMPETITION Singapore, September 9, 2010 – Twelve inmates pit their culinary skills against one another in the Yellow Ribbon Cooking Competition held in Changi Prison Cluster A today. This milestone activity is the first in a series of Yellow Ribbon Project activities in 2007, organised by the Community Action for the Rehabilitation of Ex-Offenders (CARE) Network.
The cooking competition was jointly organised by Raffles Hotel. Chef de Cuisine Jean-Charles Dubois from the hotel’s French fine-dining restaurant Raffles Grill was one of the judges at today’s finals and was also heavily involved in preparing the inmates for the competition. This cooking competition simulates the kitchen environment and challenges faced by professional chefs. Participants were required to produce an original Western-style dish within a strict three-hour limit using predetermined ingredients and equipment. The participants showed promise and a genuine eagerness to learn, and this experience has been rewarding as I have been able to see the improvements they have been able to make,” said Chef Dubois. To prepare participants for the competition, Chef Dubois visited the institutions five times and provided video instruction to introduce the ingredients and cooking methods to the inmates. “The participation of inmates in this competition further reaffirms their determination to contribute to their families and society. We’re proud to have our inmates’ creation featured at the prestigious Raffles Hotel.
Chef Dubois’ contribution to our inmates also shows that the community is willing to take the lead in helping inmates in their rehabilitation and reintegration,” said Mr. Desmond Chin, Chairman, Yellow Ribbon Project Organising Committee. Winning recipes will also be recreated at a special reunion lunch, A Tribute of Love, to be held in three days’ time for winners and their family members. Raffles Hotel will also feature the best dish on a Raffles menu, making it available to her patrons and guests. *ENDS* About Yellow Ribbon Project
The Yellow Ribbon Project is a nation-wide campaign to raise the awareness of Singaporeans about the need of inmates, ex-offenders and their families for societal acceptance. For more information, please contact: Jale Byrd, Executive Public Affairs Branch, Singapore Prison Service Telephone: 6565-6565 Email: [email protected] gov. sg From The Fire Into The Frying Pan By Jale Byrd The bang and clatter you hear when you step into the hawker centre at Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10 is undeniably a dragon’s roar. Rueburn Liang’s Chia Song Fried Kway Teow stall, which he has operated for the past 13 years, is synonymous with good food.
It is also the most prolific stall at the busy food centre. The setup comes complete with a portable television and loud speakers that broadcast the latest soccer and professional wrestling matches. “Frying a good plate of Char Kway Teow is an art. I bang loudly on the edge of my wok to attract customers to my stall. The TV keeps them entertained,” booms Rueburn, as he gesticulates with his charred spatula. Loud, vociferous and a former Ang Soon Tong (a Secret Society in Singapore) enforcer, you will be inclined to agree.
Rueburn is a karate expert plastered with tattoos of flaming dragons over his massive frame, which are made conspicuous with his well-greased white singlet. The missing last finger on his right hand makes the man’s dark, pockmarked face even more intimidating. But lest you get alarmed, Rueburn’s lashings are taken out on his trusty wok, where he conjures mouth-watering plates of delicious, spicy and sinful Char Kway Teow. “I had to chop off my last finger as a ‘settlement’ for leaving the society in 1987, and a $800 Ang Pow (a red packet containing money, is seen as an auspicious sign by the Chinese),” he reveals without a hint of regret. Otherwise, ‘they’ will never leave me alone. Now, those days are over. Luckily, some of those people respect me, never really give me trouble. ” (A secret society member has to sever a finger to maintain his code of honour and pay an ‘exit fee’ to leave the underground organization without fear of repercussions) With all his dubious activities, an inevitable brush with the law saw Rueburn put behind bars for nine months. Rueburn broke the arm, skull and penis of a credit defaulter in a savage fight. The bone-breaking experience threw him into the ‘fire’ of Queenstown gaol, a humbling experience for the former gangster. I really got burnt by the prison ‘fire’. We were made to kneel and live in a mini-hell. Sipeh Chor leh (Really Tough) Outside, I was a ‘terror’, but the others were hardened criminals and I seemed like a sissy compared to them. I didn’t want to spend my life strolling in and out of jail. Sio jit pai kow liow! (Getting burnt once was enough) I decided it was good for me to leave the society and turn to a decent living. I was right,” says Rueburn with hindsight. (The criminal slang for serving time in prison is ‘tio her sio’ or getting burnt by fire) Rueburn, who only completed primary education, was at a loss.
The only decent job he was good at was cooking. His vocation as a military cook in the Singapore Armed Forces during his national service in 1983 cemented his culinary passion and served him in good stead. At the encouragement of his then girlfriend Fion (now Mrs Liang) and some savings, he successfully bid for a hawker stall and set up Chia Song in 1988. However, he learnt to perfect his Kway Teow frying skills only much later. “Not easy to fry a good plate. True, it looks easy but I had to experiment many times before I was satisfied…now, I think I am getting there,” Rueburn says modestly. Getting there? It’s very good already! One of the best in Singapore! ” quips Elson Boey, a retired civil servant. “There is always a long queue during lunch time. I think his secret is in the intensity of his fire. ” Hard work as it seems, Chia Song is a labour of love. The couple dedicates 12 hours a day amidst unforgiving flames to create a uniquely Singaporean masterpiece. “The fire must always be strong and the leow (ingredients) must be fresh! Timing is also very important, as you do not want to overcook the dish. Bah You (pork lard) must be used liberally, as it gives that special taste.
You only live once ah, so live it good! No need to be so healthy one. ” Indeed, words of culinary and hedonistic wisdom. It is lunchtime and an almost scandalous crowd forms. A haze of smoke clouds the sizzling sound of stir-fried garlic as they simmer in a pool of aromatic lard. Chee Seng furiously stirs in his noodles and kway teow into a heated wok smoldering under a furious fire. Within moments, arrays of delicious condiments are thrown into the fray, soaking in the thick flavour. When the rich smell of caramelized sweet sauce wafts under your nostrils, Rueburn has served another satisfied customer.
A stolen glance around the hawker centre reveals an assortment of harried but happy workers haphazardly sliding tantilising morsels of Fried Kway Teow down their throats. Echoing Elson’s sentiments is Rachel Tua Kang, an auditor who works nearby. “Simply fantabulous! My diets never take off, this temptation is too much! ” When told, Rueburn Liang brushes off his accolades as if they were burnt garlic bits on his flaming wok, his reddened face warms up into a big grin as he takes another drag of his Marlboro cigarettes. Ying siu nia,” (they are just entertaining me) he jokingly retorts. It is closing time for the busy hawker and he takes a well-earned respite from the day’s backbreaking battle with his wok and emerges at the end of the day with a rosy complexion, no doubt made pink by the tremendous temperatures he has to endure. As Mrs. Liang cleans up the slobber knocker of a hawker stall, Rueburn takes delight in a leisurely smoke. Rightfully, he seeks solace in his daily bottle of bitter-cold ABC stout. Gleefully, he chugs down a glass of the icy brew. Ha ha, these days I only fight with my wok. My life could have turned out much worse! There is no fear of getting burnt now. ” As he breaks into another cheerful smile, he bursts into a self-indulgent laughter, as if to remind himself of his good fortune. It is lunchtime again, and Rueburn busies himself over a brilliant hot wok. You might think a fire-breathing dragon was fueling the fire, as the flames turn to a ferocious blue fireball. However, the dragon is above the stove, controlling the fire. He has made the transaction of jumping from the fire into the frying pan.