Deepfake Video of Singapore Politicians Singing Japanese Meme Song Goes Viral on Social Media

A video producer created a deepfake version of Singapore politicians including PM Lee Hsien Loong lip-syncing to popular Japanese song Baka Mitai

In Singapore, it's not like the rest of the world where politicians are always involved in a spat irrespective of a public place or parliament. Even though the city-state doesn't have a strong presence of opposition, politicians across the party lines have come together for National Day (August 9) or even for the response of Coronavirus pandemic.

But how about them lip-syncing to a song? Unusual, but Photographer and Video Producer Adrian Chan has made it possible, bringing Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (of People's Action Party), opposition leader Pritam Singh (of Workers' Party) and Dr Tan Chen Bock (of Progress Singapore Party) together to "sing" in a video, albeit, using deepfakes.

Chan has used portraits of 16 Singapore politicians to produce the deepfake version of the popular Japanese video game song "Dame Da Ne" or "Baka Mitai". There PM Lee and Singh besides Jamus Lim, Raeesah Khan, Sylvia Lim are lip-syncing to the song that recently reappeared on the social media platforms. Since uploading the video on his Facebook page on Friday, August 8, Chan has received close to 250,000 views.

Origin of the Song

The song titled Baka Mitai in Japanese or "I've been a fool" in English first appeared in Yakuza video game series. After first appearing in Yakuza 0, it was then used in Yakuza 5 and Yakuza: Like a Dragon video games. The song is sung by popular Japanese singers Kazuma Kiryu, Shun Akiyama, Taiga Saejima and Yu Namba. Another version of the song sung by Kiryu has been used in Yakuza Kiwami.

Recent Emergence

The song has been used in many memes since it was first released in 2015. But last month, it saw a resurgence when someone used deepfake technology to recreate the song with popular Canadian YouTuber Linus Sebastian lip-syncing. Since then, multiple videos have emerged on social media platforms with people singing the song which has become a popular meme.

What Are Deepfakes?

With the emergence of artificial intelligence for general use, many have used the technology to manipulate face or voice of a person. Using software and neural network, a video can be produced and/or altered to look authentic.

The technology has been a blessing for the movie industry. Many characters have been resurrected n screen using deepfakes after the actor's death. An example would be Princess Leia Organa in the Star Wars series. The actress Carrie Fisher passed away in 2016 but her character appeared in the Star Wars: Last Jedi (2017) and Star Wars: Rise of the Skywalker (2019).

However, it has been a cause for concern as well. Many political figures including former U.S. President Barack Obama and current President Donald Trump, former U.S. Secretary of State and Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton have become victims of the technology. Using their faces, many videos have been circulated on social media to spread misinformation and even false political agenda.

While the technology has been used mostly for entertainment purpose, it has become evident that it can be used to defame someone as well. Recently, Malaysia's Defense Minister, Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob fell victim to the technology when a video appeared on social media with him saying he didn't welcome Singaporeans.