Chan a disappointment for not championing a better deal for Singapore's poor

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By: Chris Kuan

I refer to the article, ‘105,000 households get little food but Chan doesn’t want to set poverty line‘. Among all the elites in the People’s Action Party (PAP), I am most disappointed by Chan Chun Sing.

One can excuse the Prime Minister for not knowing how it is physically and psychologically challenging to be poor and underprivileged – after all he is a “bon bon botchan” (Japanese colloquial for boy born with a silver spoon). But Chan is supposedly from a poor family who lived in a 1-room HDB flat.

He benefitted enormously from the PAP’s ideology of meritocracy even if it is largely based on his achievements in school examinations, He is privileged to have circumstances aligned in his favour even if he did perform academically to put himself there in the first place. But coming from that background, he could have been the champion of a better deal for the poor and underprivileged class from which he hailed.

If he had done that, people will think that he deserves to be considered for the position of future Prime Minister. But he chose instead to put himself in the forefront of the party’s ideology which pampers the rich and being stingy to the poor. It seems Tharman’s “leaning to the left” does not figure much for him. If it did, we are not seeing or hearing it.

I think culturally and historically Singapore is emotionally and psychologically made from some extent of the European style welfare system. Most of us came from the same poor and under-privileged background as Mr Chan. A benevolent state or ruler is very much within our Asian heritage. Then the question is why we don’t?

The easy answer is we did not vote for it but I think the more profound answer is that perhaps we did not vote for it because we are emotionally and psychologically conditioned by 50 years of meritocracy which makes us strive for our goods but made us selfish, uncaring, even scathing of those less fortunate or fallen on hard times.

Perhaps in Mr Chan we see some reflection of ourselves.