The Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCCI) issued a notice of clarification about the audio recording of Minister Chan Chun Sing’s closed-door dialogue with its members that was leaked to the public, indicated the act as “unacceptable and deeply disappointing” from its grassroots member.
On 10 February, Minister of Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing conducted a closed-door meeting with a group of business leaders organized by the SCCCI.
The meeting – purportedly to be “frank, closed-door discussion” – touched on the latest developments impacting the nation’s economy and society. The Minister addressed a number of issues including people’s behavior of panic buying and hoarding essential items in Singapore.
However, a 25-minute audio recording of the discussion was then leaked and circulated among various group chats.
In the recording, Mr Chan can be heard describing the panic buying as as “xia suay” or “disgraceful”, adding that he was “ashamed” by these people who gave into panic and rush to stockpile essential items due to fear of the outbreak, calling them idiots.
The letter which was penned by Mr Roland Ng, President of SCCCI, explained that the audio recording was unauthorized and a clear breach of trust, noting that all its participating members were already informed that it was a closed-door dialogue and should be off-the-record before, during and after the session.
“It has done damage to SCCCI’s standing as a chamber of high repute,” SCCCI stated in the notice. “This has betrayed the trust that SCCCI has built with Minister Chan over the years.”
SCCCI also explained that grassroots members are aware that many political office holders will have regular engagements with the organization in public and private settings.
“It is with deep regret that a clip of his private conversation with us, clearly edited out of context, is making its round outside the confines of the dialogue venue.
As President of SCCCI, I am deeply disappointed that one of our members acted in such an irresponsible and damaging manner.
SCCCI is currently investigating the matter. I hope our members will also take this opportunity to reflect on this incident, which has serious implications on the standings of SCCCI, our country and Minister Chan personally. Such actions dilute the trust and confidence that others have in us and will discourage active and open participation from our speakers, guests and even our own members in future private settings. Trust has to be mutual, earned and built over time.”
Earlier on 17 February, Mr Chan also made his explanation on Facebook and said he provided a frank assessment to the business leaders.
“Many of them have attended my closed-door dialogues and they know that I do not mince my words when presenting hard truths and trade-offs,” he said. “I shared frankly our challenges, difficult decisions and trade-offs.”
The Minister added that trust and confidentiality will be critical in sharing such sensitive matters in closed-door sessions.
“Hearsay taken out of context will be unhelpful to trust-building and collective actions in these difficult times,” Mr Chan noted.