When the multi-lingual Mediacorp drama 128 Circle returns for Season 2, the food sellers at the fictional hawker centre find their businesses upended by the Covid-19 pandemic.
One hawker, Uncle Larry (played by Duan Weiming), couldn’t have come out of retirement at a worse time to reopen his kopi stall. (His retirement hijinks are covered in the spin-off Shaking Legs.)
Through a series of circumstances, Uncle Larry decides to become a part-time Safety Protocol Envoy, the show’s version of a Safe-Distancing Ambassador. In the real world, the SDA wears a red polo whereas their reel-life counterpart dons a green one.
“I much prefer green because it’s less aggressive and has an eco-friendly vibe,” Weiming tells 8days.sg over the phone in Mandarin.
Elsewhere, the part-time actor and full-time personal chauffeur says the role has helped him better understand the job specs of an SDA.
“I always see them at the market near my place in Boon Lay and I don’t really know what they do specifically,” he says. “Do they have the power to issue summons and make arrest?” (FYI: The answers are no and no.)
He adds that he was once “politely” told by an SDA to wear his mask properly. “I had a habit of wearing my mask under my nose,”
At the time of the interview, Weiming says he hasn’t started shooting the scenes of Larry doing the rounds. But he reveals that the show will tackle true-life-inspired cases, including a young lady who persistently resists masking up and a dementia-stricken senior.
If Weiming were an SDA, how would he deal with someone like, say, Phoon Chiu Yoke, the infamous anti-mask ‘MBS Badge Lady’ who was recently sentenced to 16 weeks in prison?
“Given my personality, I’ll probably argue with her,” he says. “I’ll end up screaming expletives at her.”
There’s no reason for her to belittle the SDAs, he continues. “Why is she making life difficult for the SDAs? They are doing their job. How difficult is it to wear a mask? You only had to wear it for a short period of time whereas they have to wear it for the whole day.”