Epilogue to Min Chan Chun Sing’s leaked audio drama: #OurBengSteady and his two comrades

By February 29, 2020Current

TL;DR – Adding Tan Chuan-Jin and Koh Poh Koon to the party.

Last week, the online sphere in our little red spot was abuzz with the story a leaked audio recording of Minister for Trade and Industry, Chan Chun Sing (CCS).

You can read the full transcript here or read what I think is the most important part of the recording here.

SCCCI in spotlight for wrong reason: Leaked audio of closed-door dialogue with Min Chan Chun Sing

There was much talk about the “beng-ness” in the way he was speaking to the towkays at the closed-door dialogue organised by Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCCI).

While there were people criticising him for the way he spoke, there were as many, if not more, people who rooted for him online with the hashtag #ourbengsteady

Some people took the trouble to post personal thoughts about the episode,

Others shared their personal experience working with, for and alongside him,

One netizen mistakenly directed his unhappiness at Minister Chan at Speaker Tan Chuan-Jin. Here’s the rather hilarious Twitterstorm,

Comrade #1

Speaker Tan: How do you use a 25 min clip from a nearly 2 hr session n judge someone for lack of humility?

Perhaps “inspired” by the netizen who had probably mixed up Minister Chan Chun Sing with Speaker Tan Chuan-Jin, more netizens started leaving messages on Speaker Tan’s social media accounts to share their thoughts about the CCS episode.

Like this lady here, Jeweljuls.

From what I can see, Speaker Tan had tried to reply three times!

He had thought the first reply didn’t go through, so he retyped a second reply. And when he thought both replies vanished into the mysterious space of missing posts, his third attempt saw him typing that he’d tried to reply three times, but failed.

And then hehe, all three replies were posted. Here are the two that made me go awwwwww….

Indeed, how do we even begin to judge someone based on a 20-minute clip off a two-hour long dialogue?

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In fact, who are we to even judge someone based on just two hours of dialogue from an entire adult life of work?

What really captured my attention was how Speaker Tan spoke up for his fellow comrade.

I’m not here to debate or argue about how Minister Chan had used the label “idiot” during that closed door dialogue. As much as I like him and how the leaked contents make sense, even I had found the use of the label excessive.

But I do want to highlight these parts,

“Here is someone who spends time, repeatedly, with groups to encourage them to look after workers and not let them go.”

“He and his team are juggling economy to ensure jobs, budget that will affect us now and future, managing COVID to keep us safe, and he has always been championing the cause of the less privileged. And we just choose to accuse him of a lack of humility?”

Comrade #2

Senior Minister of State (MTI) Koh Poh Koon:  Wage support help to “cut costs to save jobs” instead of “cutting jobs to save costs”

In the leaked audio recording, Minister Chan had said made an appeal to the towkays not to just look at the here and now. He had asked that they consider the day after.

“Take this chance to ask ourselves, when the recovery finally come, whether it is six months or nine months, how do we position your business, our economy to go out faster than the rest of the people? We must distinguish ourselves as Singapore to think of the beyond here-and-now. So there will be beyond-the-immediate-help package, there will be a package that I hope you all will seriously take advantage of, which is to position your business beyond the crisis. Then finally when the recovery comes, we can all do much better. That one you must do, that one you must plan.

And I need to ask you all to do this. When you now have got spare capacity, can you all don’t sack the workers immediately? Take the Government’s help, train the workers, use the chance to help the workers to stay around for a while, so that you prepare for the next phase.” 

So Minister Chan had said these before the Budget Statement last Tuesday, his comrade and colleague in MTI, Koh Poon Koon, echoed similar views this week.

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And yes, both have their minds and hearts on helping to grow the economy so that Singaporeans can keep their jobs and have good jobs.

In an interview with Chinese radio station Capital 958, Koh Poh Koon who is also a labour MP with NTUC, said (in Mandarin and I’ve translated into English),

“If you imagine COVID-19 to be thunderstorm, this too shall pass and we will see clear skies eventually. And we cannot lose sight of the future and not plan for it just because of this rain. While we worry and tackle the problems today, we also need to be mindful and pay attention to the challenges of tomorrow.”

“Our businesses need to continue with their transformation, to strengthen their chances of survival and also train their workforce for the transformed future. When we Singaporeans face up to the challenges, we should keep calm and not panic, work together, help one another. It is important that we unite as a nation and work towards our future together.”

In his budget debate speech on Wednesday (26 February 2020), Labour MP Koh highlighted the need to turn the current crisis into an opportunity to hasten transformation and training of the workers.

He repeated and reiterated Minister Chan’s earlier call for companies to leverage the schemes announced at Budget 2020 to redesign jobs, send workers for training and look into long term business transformation so that they can capture new opportunities when the economy recovers.

Now it has become clear what packages and measures Minister Chan was talking about in the leaked audio recording.

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For businesses, the Stabilisation and Support Package helps to bring cashflow relief. In a way, these measures are designed to help business tackle the immediate problems of low sales and cashflow. Manpower costs are also a significant expenditure for companies and the wage support measures that are announced during this period will help companies to “cut costs to save jobs” instead of “cutting jobs to save costs”.

And then there’s the Transformation and Growth Package is to help businesses ready themselves so that they can quickly get back on their feet and recover faster and stronger than everyone else.

So collectively these two packages help businesses reduce costs and manage cashflow better, and yes, ensure that workers keep their jobs. At the same time, these packages also encourage businesses to take the lull period to review their operations and embark on transformation so that when the storm blows over, they are all ready to to more than bounced back.

The Dive: If Singapore chooses economic growth, do we risk leaving our workers behind?

Koh said in his budget debate speech,

“During a downturn when the volume of work is reduced, the enhanced Enterprise Development Grant (EDG) and the newly announced SkillsFuture Enterprise Credit can help companies to redesign jobs, upskill their workers and look at long term business transformation so that when economic recovery occurs, companies will be able to swiftly respond and capture new opportunities. These two points are worth emphasising and the Labour Movement supports the measures in the Stabilisation and Support Package.”

It sure looks like the two MTI comrades are pulling no stops to help businesses stay alive, survive, strive and thrive, all so that workers can keep their jobs.



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Qiqi Wong

Author Qiqi Wong

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