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5 observations I made over tea with Chan Chun Sing

a year ago / ntuc

No. 4 is my favourite.

I got to have tea with Minister Chan Chun Sing a few days ago and over Wang Cafe's kaya toasts on plastic plates, we spoke about what makes a good politician, immigration policies and everyone's current favourite topic - the Gini coefficient.

I'll leave the economics part out (you can take a look at this post by My 15 Hour Work Week if you're interested) but here are some takeaways from our tea session:

1) He knows about the memes of him circulating Facebook

We started the conversation with the question, "Are you aware about the memes of you on the Internet? Do you plan to do anything about it?"

I've got to admit, it's a difficult question... especially since I'm someone who absolutely cannot deal with people talking about me (the irony of owning a blog, I know) but Chan addressed the topic head-on that personal branding is not his forte (Honestly, he's not the most photogenic politician around... I couldn't capture a nice shot of him speaking :/ ) and ultimately, it boils down to "Who do you want to be?" - a popular politician or a genuinely efficient one (I'll elaborate on this later.)

So while he has accepted these gifs as inevitable baggage from being a public figure, he appears confident that his actions and contributions has/will speak louder than them.

2) He is unabashedly forthright

Maybe it's those years in the army from a SAF Overseas Scholarship to being appointed Chief of Army in 2010 that shaped his no-holds-barred, we walk the talk approach to his political career and life at large (military wife observation here yo!) but in our unscripted Q&A session, there was no carefully-crafted, politically correct answers to our thoughtful, if not particularly tough, questions and I like how he was real and comfortable in his own skin and forthright with all of us - that he could be a popular politician by declaring "We'll help everybody" with policies that APPEAR to be helping everyone (e.g. by lowering petrol prices across the board) but through a rather lengthy explanation of government transfers and income inequality, we later learnt that while our current petrol pricing model - and other policies - while definitely unpopular, actually helps the lower-income much more than said popular measures. (It's a long explanation and you can read it here)

3) He seems genuinely fired up

With all that talk about #GE2015 (though we didn't actually talk about it during the session), the labour chief seems ready to go. From economics to policies to what's happening in the heartlands, he discussed these topics articulately without fluff and rhetoric.

4) He wears a Casio

Not a Philippe Patek, Rolex nor even a Seiko. Just a Casio.

And a pretty basic model at that too.

5) He is poised for bigger things

Not I say one ah.

But I agree. Chan Chun Sing has had plenty of critics watching from afar since his entrance into politics in 2011 and I think he has managed to defy naysayers with his substance... though perhaps some help's required in the style department ;)