Just as Minister for National Development, Lawrence Wong’s speech contained nothing groundbreaking, Senior Minister, Teo Chee Hean’s was much the same. Teo talked broadly about the impact of the world economy and how the pandemic has changed and affected globalisation. While not inaccurate, it did not reveal anything so profoundly earth shattering that warranted another prime time slot on national TV.
Again, what has Teo said that could not simply have been uploaded on You Tube or Facebook?
Teo’s speech was announced as part of a series of national broadcasts in which Cabinet ministers would lay out the nation’s plans for the future. However, looking at both Wong and Teo’s speeches, one could be forgiven for still not knowing what the concrete plans are because none of the speeches laid out anything specific.
Perhaps, the only person who could get away with making an overall speech was Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. While his speech was also general, it is arguable that as prime minister, he wanted to reassure the nation. But if the rest of the cabinet ministers make generic speeches the way Wong and Teo have, it really is difficult to see the point of the national broadcasts at all – save for them being covert election speeches.
And, if they are indeed election preparation speeches, what is the point of having them when no date has yet been set?
Teo said : “Pursuing narrow self-interest can leave all of us worse off, while enlightened self-interest means working together for a better outcome for everyone.”
What does this convoluted hyperbole even mean?
Perhaps Teo is saying that selfishness would leave us worse off while mutual interest could lead to a better outcome for us all. However, how has the government hogging prime time slots to make generic statements be anything but “narrow self interest”?
“Enlightened self interest” would surely include setting out a date for the general election so that all contestants are on a more even playing field to ensure that voters are able to make the most informed choice possible?
Is the government practising what it is apparently preaching?
Teo went on to say that : “The crisis has stretched our resources and capacity. But we have been able to orientate, adapt and act rapidly as the virus came upon us in waves. Each wave required us to develop and deploy novel measures to slow down the spread, and contain it”
How can Teo state that the government has “acted rapidly” amid mounting criticism of the government’s slow initial response and U turn policies such as the face mask? Surely if you are going to nab yourself a prime time TV slot, you ought to at least be seen to explain away your perceived misstep. Instead, it just seems to be an opportunity to self praise.
Cabinet ministers making speeches day after day at prime time is unprecedented and would understandably lead Singaporeans to expect something a little bit more specific and earth shattering than the sweeping and run of the mill statements that Singaporeans can get from a write up in the Straits Times or a Facebook post from the minister in question.
Looking at how the government has chosen to hog prime time slots ahead of a yet undated but imminent general election, it would seem likely that this is really just a poorly disguised election campaign to get round COVID-19 campaigning restrictions.
A wasted prime time slot which creates an unfair advantage for the ruling party.