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Reconnecting with our seniors with vernacular radios

during the COVID-19 pandemic in Singapore

Article by Jo Lim


What did You Say Teahouse / 大声D茶室 / Warung Cakap Apa is a community arts project created in the initial stage of the COVID-19 lock-down in a bid to connect with seniors living in isolation, and in languages that are familiar to the elderly but are uncommonly heard in the mass media today.

The project is part of an intersectoral community project that creates new artistic content in the vernacular languages (Chinese dialects, Malay and Tamil) for seniors who found themselves physically and emotionally isolated during the COVID-19 pandemic due to the


(1) closing of senior activity centres,

(2) cessation of social activities and home visits and

(3) social distancing measures that actively discourage seniors from venturing out of their home since the virus is known to have more serious impacts on the elderly.


Working collaboratively with various social services agencies and with volunteers, the project aims to provide both information and comfort during this confounding period, and beyond. (read more

Season 1 (May - August 2020)

84 episodes in Cantonese, Hokkien, Teochew, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil



Aishwariyah Shanmuganathan, Doreen Toh, Farez Najid, Jalyn Han, Li Xie, Liu Xiaoyi, Moli Mohter, Oliver Chong, Zelda Ng

Music composer and sound designer

Programme theme song, Singapore Old Stories, Journey to the West: Phang Kok Jun

Do you Remember: Jay Lim

Sure or Not? Ah Kee Dare Dare Say: Li Xie

Video Editor

Leliofusion, Super Fan Club, Singapore, Old Stories, Journey to the West: Eric Lim You Wey

Burung Kakak Tua: Yusri Shaggy Sapari

Do you Remember: Horseman

Baabuu Time, Sure or Not, Ah Kee Dare Dare Say: Ang Cheng Yan

Transcriber and Translator 

Max Yam, Jodi Chan, Aqmal Noor, Savithaa Markandu

Graphic Designer

Programme key visual: Shian

Show posters: Ric Liu

Burung Kakak Tua poster: Hashima Hassim

Production, technical, marketing & administrative support

Ang Cheng Yan, Cheryl Gan, Farez Najid


Lin Shiyun

Special thanks to community partners in programme outreach:

All Saints Home (Yishun), Sing-health, Outram Community Hospital, NTUC health, 

MWS Home Care & Home Hospice (under the care of Methodist Welfare Services), St. Luke Eldercare, Project Audible Cheer, Project Kind Heart Asia​, Jurong Spring V2, Touch Community Services. Tsao Foundation, Monfort Care, Learn Dialect, Teck Ghee CC, Cassia Resettlement Team

Supported by

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Let's connect the circuit -

Interview with creators of 大声D茶室 / Warung Cakap Apa

Interview by Max Yam


As an artist or a creator, what went through your mind when the pandemic just started? How did you feel then? How do you feel now? What did you discover during this period or in the preparation process of 大声D茶室 / Warung Cakap Apa?

Jalyn: In the beginning, it started off as a service to translate the news in dialects for those who have difficulty understanding English and Mandarin. "Aunty Jalyn" is my online persona to deliver these messages in a positive manner, with hope that people would stay calm during turbulent times. At that time, I felt that we should do what we can, and be courageous to try things out.

Shiyun: She was staying up till 3am trying to figure out how to do Zoom and Facebook Live. Putting yourself out there in the public domain and being vulnerable to a very snarky online community is a very scary thing. But she did it anyway, because she was intrinsically motivated to reach out to the seniors and wanted others to be seen and have a voice in her programme. 

(read more