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“I’m just an ordinary man” — Chee Soon Juan addresses public’s perception in interview

"I’m no different from anyone else, but it’s only natural for everyone to have his or her own views on various matters"

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Singapore — Opposition Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chief Chee Soon Juan, who never shies away from speaking up about his political convictions, shifted gears and shed more light on his personal life in a recent interview with the Robb Report, a Singapore-based luxury lifestyle publication.

In the interview, Dr Chee, 58, addressed the public’s perception of him and shared that if people really got to know him they would find out that he is just an ordinary man.

He told Robb Report’s Allisa Noraini:

“I don’t have two horns sticking out from my head. I’m just an ordinary man with his own set of worries, aspirations, insecurities, strengths and weaknesses — I’m going through the processes any typical human being would go through in life. I’m no different from anyone else, but it’s only natural for everyone to have his or her own views on various matters.”

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Dr Chee said he would have continued to teach and pursue research — his first love — if he had not joined the political fray. He added that he would have told his younger self not be be “too anxious in trying to figure out what he’d want to achieve in life” since he was very concerned about how life would turn out when he was a young adult.

Pointing out that “it’s really not about the destination, but the journey itself”, he added: “The various experiences gained from the journey will guide you to make the best decisions for yourself.”

The opposition veteran, who has seen more than his fair share of struggles since he joined politics in 1992, also shed light on how he motivates himself. Describing how it is not always easy to find purpose, Dr Chee, who is known for his perseverance, said:

“I can’t lie that sometimes in life, when you’re running on empty, you do need to manufacture hope. But at some point, it’s important to stop wallowing in self-pity and feeling sorry for yourself.

“You’ve always got to find a way forward, and if there seems to be no way forward, you’ve just got to grab a machete and bash your way through until you find a path for yourself. Eventually, you’ll be reminded of your purpose again and the excitement that comes with it.”

He added: “For my case, that’ll be to change the society and mindsets of the people. And automatically, I’d find myself getting back into the swing of things.”

Dr Chee told the Robb Report that he loves to read and do physical activities like riding his bicycle to unwind. He also described how he juggles his duties as a father with his political life.

Providing valuable tips on parenthood, like the need to learn how to allow children to chart their own path forward, the father of three said: “Unlike schoolwork, where one has model answers to refer to, being a parent is, many a time, a case of trial and error. Just keep your fingers crossed that you are doing the right thing.

“But here’s one thing I’ve discovered: As a parent, you’ve got to resist the temptation of wanting your children to be who you want them to be. You’ve just got to learn to let go and let them discover their own paths in life. And it’s through a lived experience that they begin to also figure out what’s important for themselves.”

When the publication asked who he would pick if he could have a meal with anyone in the world, Dr Chee said that he dreams of having a private moment with Mahatma Gandhi or Nelson Mandela to learn about their fears and insecurities.

He also entertained the possibility of getting to know someone infamous, like Adolf Hitler or Joseph Stalin, to try to understand their psyche and whether they regretted the things they did.

The SDP Secretary-General added that he would enjoy cooking for Makansutra founder K F Seetoh and that he considered inviting Mr Seetoh to try the mashed potatoes he made to raise funds for a grassroots initiative at Bukit Batok SMC, the ward he contested in this year’s General Election.

On a more serious note, Dr Chee said that he is not afraid of showing who he really is because he deeply values authenticity. He said: “…I just want people to see me for who I am and for all my thoughts. I’d like to be able to show people this genuine side of me, and while some may not agree with my values, at least they’re informed of how I work.”

The politician further said that he would like to be remembered as “someone who cared” when he leaves this world. He said, candidly: “This may sound a little vain and nebulous, but when I leave this world, I’d like to be remembered as someone who cared — in whichever way you choose to see it.”

Read the interview in full HERE.

/TISG

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