Singapore – A Twitter dialogue occurred between Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin and a netizen because the latter got affected by what the speaker wrote, implying that he described Singaporeans to be ‘idiots.’
On February 8, a day after the Disaster Outbreak Response System Condition (DORSCON) alert level was raised from yellow to orange, Mr Tan went on Instagram to share his experience on the shopping frenzy that had occurred.
“Don’t panic and hoard,” wrote the speaker. “But if for some #bopian reason you have to, be reasonable,” he advised. It appeared that his post was targeted at shoppers who dumped their baskets or trolleys filled with items because the queue was too long.
“If there was a zombie attack, I can understand,” noted the speaker. “But please lah! The staff is already overstretched as it is, putting up with rudeness and unreasonableness, and you do this to them?” said Mr Tan.
He added that “most Singaporeans are sensible and decent and carrying out our roles to help.” The speaker encouraged everyone not to let “these chaps (referring to those who hoarded and never checked out) tarnish our image.”
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Don’t panic and hoard. But if for some #bopian reason you have to, be reasonable. These people decided that the queue was too long and they dumped their stuff and left. 😱 😡 If there was a zombie 🧟♂️ attack I can understand. But please lah! The Staff is already overstretched as it is, putting up with rudeness and unreasonableness, and you do this to them?! We can be better than this. Let’s look out for our service n frontline staff. 🙏🏻💪 These aren’t the majority. Most Singaporeans are sensible and decent and carrying out our roles to help. Let’s not have these chaps tarnish our image. Let’s encourage and also dissuade where we can. Every bit of help helps!
Many netizens agreed with the speaker’s post and expressed their disappointment and embarrassment with the “ignorant hoarders.”
The speaker also shared his post on Twitter where it got an unexpected response from a member of the online community 11 days later.
“As a minister, you keep promoting total defence, to be prepared but in the end, [you] scold part of Singaporean to be idiot or throw face,” (sic) wrote @alextong10, replying to the speaker’s tweet. “Remember, when people start to buy one week supply of food, they are responsible to themself (sic) and their family. And will not be a burden to gov.”
The speaker replied, “And you are directing this at me because?”
@alextong10 had a lot to say with every point the speaker made in his post. It seemed that the netizen was a fellow soldier and said that it takes time to educate everyone; hence advised, “Dun take your gun and fire wrongly.” The speaker, still baffled at the whole thing, took the time to reply.
For those who actually read Mr Tan’s post, he never mentioned the word “idiot,” which could be the reason why he was quite confused by the tirade.
Eventually, on February 21, Friday, Mr Tan tweeted, “Pardon the recent exchanges with I’m not sure who. Here I am minding my own business & kena assaulted by this ranting monologue. Must be my bengness that attracted the response. Must restrain my inner beng. Om.”
He even posted a public question asking everyone if tweeting was unbecoming for a Speaker of Parliament.