A poll found that one-third of youths formed a better impression of Minister Chan Chun Sing after hearing what he said.
The main character spoke mainly in Singlish with such a candid tone that one might have thought it was a conversation to be had in a coffee-shop.
But it turned out to be a speech from a closed-door meeting between the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCCI) members and Minister of Trade and Industry, Chan Chun Sing, focusing on the reactions to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The leaked audio clip drew plenty of attention on social media, particularly on the way the minister spoke and the manner in which he had criticised some Singaporeans for stockpiling essential items when there wasn’t a need to do so.
Yet, a poll from Milieu found that 69 per cent of Singaporeans agreed with what he said in the audio clip.
About one third of youths, aged 16 to 29, had a better view of the minister. Only 13 per cent said they had a worse impression, while 54 per cent of them said the leaked audio clip had no impact of their opinion in the minister.
We spoke to three young Singaporeans to find out their views of the minister and the leaked audio clip.
“I think he brought up some valid points and echoed the sentiments of many Singaporeans.
“If it were a regular Singaporean saying what Minister Chan Chun Sing said, they probably wouldn’t have gotten any backlash from it. And while I agree that politicians have a reputation and image to uphold, I don’t disagree with what he said. Politicians have a responsibility to be open and transparent to their people and I think he was merely speaking the truth in the leaked audio.
“As for the backlash he faced because of his Singlish, I think that (the backlash) reflects poorly on us as Singaporeans. It’s been ingrained in us to be ashamed of Singlish even though it’s such a huge part of our culture. The minister is also a Singaporean, and to criticise him for speaking Singlish seems quite unreasonable to me.
“I think an ideal politician would be someone who’s open and honest, and makes an effort for two-way communication between them and the people.” – Row Gwendolyn, 19, Student
“I’m personally supportive of what he said in the audio, because I feel that it was definitely unnecessary to stockpile essential items and start panicking when there were no shortages of such items.
“It was unfortunate that a conversation like that got recorded, leaked and then framed in a way to make it look ‘scandalous’. Had it been any random person on Twitter, I feel it would’ve gotten a lot of support and retweets instead. But because it’s a politician, coupled with the nature of the ‘leak’, it then looked like it was really bad.
“I also think we should stop expecting politicians to be pristine, prim and proper all the time because after all, they are humans as well. Having such expectations of them at this day and age is so unrealistic, they’re not robots. As long as they can still be transparent when needed and run the sectors they’re in charge of, I don’t see what’s the big deal.” – Abdillah Akmal, 20, Student
“I guess as a minister you have to be careful. While I understand that he’s human and he has his own views and privacy, and it’s not right for us to impose on that, but as a politician, you need to understand that your personal views will ultimately affect the way people look at the country. I think that’s the reason why people are so upset about this.
“He could have been more tactful about it, in my opinion.” – So Ee Cheng, 19, Student
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CHEVONNE LAW AND ALIYAH KHAN
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