In a recent media podcast, Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing explained that “it would not be possible for Singapore to survive without trade”.
“We must not forget – even to produce eggs ah, where does the egg come from? You would probably tell me hens. But where does the chicken come from? Don’t tell me eggs,” he said.
In trying to make the point that Singapore cannot survive without international trade, he made an illustration that surgical masks could not be wholly produced in Singapore because there are parts that have to be procured elsewhere, such as cotton.
Giving a sardonic snigger, he drove home the message that we “don’t have too many sheep in Singapore to produce cotton.”
In fact, cotton actually comes from cotton plants and not sheep. China leads the world in cotton production, followed by India and the United States.
Wool, on the other hand, is a natural fibre that comes from sheep.
TOC commentator Augustine Low wrote (‘It’s hair-raising and spine-chilling that our Trade and Industry Minister thinks that cotton comes from sheep‘), “If our Trade and Industry Minister doesn’t know the difference between cotton and wool, we have to be very afraid.”
“While we can see the humour in it, this is not a time for laughter. It ought to give us the creeps and scare the crap out of us,” he added.
Minister explains mistake to be due to lack of slack
This afternoon, Chan posted on his Facebook page about how he had a good laugh when he was told of the mistake that he made during the video interview about cotton and sheep.
He wrote that he has been thinking for weeks of all kinds of substitutes that Singapore can use for the various parts of the masks that is produced locally.
“Unfortunately in Singapore, we have neither cotton nor sheep.” lamented Chan and noted that he should catch up on some sleep.
Chan supposedly a learned President Scholar
In fact, the even more hair-raising question we need to ask is – how is it a supposedly learned President Scholar like Chan appears to have short-circuited thought processes at times, making incoherent public statements?
According to his resume put up on Prime Minister’s Office website, Chan was educated at the Raffles Institution (1982 to 1985) and Raffles Junior College (1986 to 1987). He was then awarded the SAF (Overseas) and President’s Scholarship to study Economics at Cambridge University in 1988 and graduated with First Class Honours.
Chan was also awarded the Distinguished Master Strategist Award 1998 by the US Army Command and Staff College. In 2005, he completed the Sloan Fellows Programme at MIT under the Lee Kuan Yew Scholarship.
It’s indeed strange that as an esteemed economics graduate from Cambridge University, he would think that sheep produce cotton.
So, the “million dollar” question we should be asking ourselves is: Are there any other incoherent thoughts still run in his mind in his endeavour to become the next DPM or even the Prime Minister, making important national decisions which would affect our lives dearly?