Back in 2016, Josephine Teo who was Senior Minister of State at the time made a comment in a Straits Times interview where she spoke about how Singaporeans could have children before getting a flat. Specifically, she said: “You need a very small space to have sex”.
At the time, the comment drew the ire of the public. Mrs Teo later said on her Facebook that social media might have interpreted her comment inaccurately.
Three years later, people still remember the comment.
In an interview published on 8 September on Straits Times, Mrs Teo spoke about that comment incident again. She told interviewer Sumiko Tan that she “should not have said” that comment and that she had learnt her lesson.
She said, “I should not have said that. It was meant as a private joke but, you know, when you are in public life, nothing is really private anymore. So lesson learnt.”
In the interview, Mrs Teo also described herself as a straight talker, saying that people who know her are used to it but others might not take well to that side of her.
She explained, “Unfortunately, I think I talk a bit too straight, you know, and some people don’t take very well to that. My husband is used to it, my friends are used to it, the people in my work sphere they are very used to it. It’s like that, I say (it).”
Later, she also talked about how being in the public eye means that what you say can get people “excited” for a variety of reasons.
“To say that you’re not bothered with it in the least bit cannot be the case, but you’ve got to, at some point, say, okay, let it go, and then refocus your energies back to the work,” she added.
However, judging by the comments on the Mothership.sg Facebook page, the people have not ‘let go’ of the comment she made back in 2016. Many pointed out that a ‘private joke’ should not have been made in a public setting:
Many also noted that the ‘joke’ itself wasn’t funny and that by saying it, Mrs Teo was making light of a serious matter that affects many Singaporeans:
People also called her out for being unprofessional and that the comment was unbecoming of her position as a minister. One person even questioned if the comment was a reflection of her actual thoughts on the matter:
There were also those who pointed out the double standards that a ruling party politician could simply apologise for a comment made in bad-taste with little to no consequences but if the same was done by an opposition politician, the repercussions would have been much worse:
While others were sceptical of the timing of the so-called ‘apology’ or clarification of the comment from three years ago, wondering if maybe this is yet another sign that elections are about to be announced: