He who thinks he is the Special One

By Augustine Low

Football manager Jose Mourinho famously called himself the Special One.

We have in our midst a politician whose demeanour is that of a person who can do no wrong, who thinks he is the Special One.

Chan Chun Sing reeks of the idiom too clever by half – defined by the Oxford dictionary as persons “annoyingly proud of their intelligence or skill, and liable to overreach themselves.”

To recap what he is like, Chan told Parliament last year during the debate on the water price hike that much more needed to be done to “socialise our people to the challenges that we are facing on the water front.” There must be agreement by everyone that “water is existential,” he stressed with a flourish.

It’s no exaggeration to say that the existentialism of water went over the heads of those sitting in Parliament, so how could ordinary Singaporeans have figured out what Chan was alluding to?

Just this week, Chan was talking about Singaporeans needing “global mindset” and “global skillsets” so that the country can “transcend our constraints.”

Does anyone have any idea what he is talking about?

Chan’s rhetoric and soundbites are a regurgitation of PAP catchphrases. Standard platitudes of his (word-for-word) include:

  • Singapore faces life and death struggles
  • No one owes Singaporeans a living
  • Singaporeans can be the agents of change
  • Trust needs to be earned and maintained by each generation of leaders
  • We overcame challenges and thrive as one united people regardless of race, language or religion

It is as if parroting these well-worn motherhood lines would put Chan in line to be the next Prime Minister.

And he not only does it on home ground, he even went to the World Economic Forum in Davos earlier this year and mimicked a global leader. He expressed his confidence in the Chinese winning the trust and confidence of the world. “The Chinese have a saying yi de fu ren – use your benevolence to bring about a global community,” he said.

Nice one, except that this was the exact same phrase deftly used by President Xi Jinping at the same Davos forum the previous year to assure the world of Chinese good intentions.

Chan Chun Sing could indeed become the Special One, the next Prime Minister of Singapore.

Can Singaporeans stand the thought of living with many more years of his too clever by half speeches and lectures?

Augustine Low is a proud but concerned citizen. Voicing independent, unplugged opinion is his contribution to citizen engagement.