Following our queries yesterday, the Health Promotion Board (HPB) has taken down an ad of theirs that featured a cameo by controversial alt-right mascot Pepe the Frog.
“Neither we, nor our video producer, were aware of its significance,” noted a spokesperson of the Ministry of Health statutory board to Coconuts Singapore. “We would like to thank you for pointing out how the frog image has come to be used in the United States.”
The video, which featured local actor Chua En Lai in a promo for HPB’s National Steps Challenge Campaign, is no longer available on Facebook. One scene featured a graphic of Pepe the Frog during Chua’s attempt to get a passerby to perform a workout with him.
“In consideration of the feedback received, the frog image will be removed from the video, to ensure that there is no misconception about the intent of the image,” assured the spokesperson.
The character originated in a comic and became an internet meme for years before alt-right supporters of Donald Trump appropriated the image for their own purposes in 2016. Modified variations of Pepe the Frog were used to spread racist messages and the character became a rallying mascot for white nationalists, neo-Nazis, no-Confederates and other fringe far-right groups.
Pepe the Frog has since been added to the Anti-Defamation League’s list of hate symbols alongside the swastika, the burning cross, and the Confederate flag.