Singapore—With the Covid-19 outbreak spreading across the world, different countries such as Japan, Australia, Germany, the United States, and Indonesia have been airing reports of panic buying as people have been stocking up on necessities such as food, water, and even toilet paper.
Some Singaporean netizens could not, it seems, resist taking a dig at Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing, who did not mince words at panic buyers in Singapore and Hong Kong in a speech he made last month.
To be fair, Mr Chan did make these remarks with a certain degree of candour, as he said them in a closed-door meeting with the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCCI), and an audio recording of his speech had been leaked to the public.
He admitted later in a Facebook post that he provided “a frank assessment to the business leaders” and that he does not “mince my words when presenting hard truths and trade-offs.”
And frank he was indeed, saying regarding the panic buying that had ensued after the DORSCON alert had been raised to orange, “Why did the run happen? You know, run on the supermarket, right? Actually ah, this one ah, I damn ashamed. You know why? Sia suay.
We embarrass ourselves, disgraceful, we disgrace ourselves.”
Mr Chan expressed disbelief that Singaporeans were panic-buying not only rice and instant noodles but also toilet paper.
He went on to say, “No paper, water also can. So why do we behave so idiotically? I cannot tahan.
Some of us, just a small group behaving like idiots will kill all of us… Every country can behave like idiots, Singaporeans must not behave like idiots. Then we behave properly, then we show the world how different we can be. Then people will have confidence.”
And now, netizens are repeating Mr Chan’s words back to him, especially about being xia suay, which means being a disgrace or an embarrassment.
One netizen summed it up this way: “Sia suay should be the word of the year…”
But some netizens defended the Trade and Industry Minister, saying he had been right, and that Singaporeans cannot be a disgrace, or sia suay.
Despite the negative feedback that emerged after the leaked audio recording many netizens actually said they respect him more than ever for the frank and forthright manner with which he spoke. For them, the diplomatic bluntness from Mr Chan was both refreshing and relatable, and they say he is another Lee Kuan Yew, the country’s founding Prime Minister.“He is a good minister. He is indeed another Lee Kuan Yew for he dares to say things as they are, in an honest manner,” one netizen wrote.
Others called him out for what was perceived as derogatory name-calling and what they deemed was an inappropriate use of Singlish, among other “offences.”
Yet others claimed that it was not Singaporeans who had been panic buying at the time Mr Chan was referring to, but people from other countries.