Chan Chun Sing wins praise from Chinese online commenters for candid remarks on Hong Kong

Many Chinese cheered him on for his comments that were seen to be dissing Hong Kong.

Kayla Wong | February 21, 2020, 01:42 PM

Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing's remarks about Hong Kong during a closed-door meeting with Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCCI) members that was leaked has won praise from netizens in certain Chinese circles.

Recording heard by foreign audiences

Chan's comments in the closed-door session were both praised and derided by Singaporeans.

Some found his straight-talking style refreshing from a political leader, while others found his tone condescending to the regular folks he was supposed to lead by example.

His comments went beyond Singapore as well, where they were perceived very differently depending on the audience.

Gained some new fans in mainland China

While many Hongkongers were miffed that Chan had insinuated that they were "idiots" for panic-buying and hoarding daily essentials, Chan's comments were largely positively received by online commenters in mainland China.

His candid remarks were carried by various Chinese sites, such as Singapore Eye and Global Times.

The remarks resonated with many Chinese social media users who thought the minister was spot on in his take on Hong Kong's governance, as well as its relationship with mainland China.

Many Chinese might also have agreed with him simply because he came across as dissing Hong Kong, the Special Administrative Region that many Chinese felt was being ungrateful, and asking to be separate from China.

Chan had said at the meeting that Hong Kong would continue getting business from others even if it "behaves badly", as it is a part of China.

But Singapore cannot afford to "behave badly" for no one would want to do business with it then, he added.

Here are some of the things commenters said on Weibo, where nationalistic voices tend to be amplified.

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"His remarks can be concluded in three points: 1) Hongkongers are brainless; 2) It's okay even if Hongkongers are brainless, because Hong Kong belongs to China, and can rest easy while relying on such a big tree; 3) But Singapore can't be the same. It has no big tree to rely on, so it can't be brainless like Hong Kong."

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"He's spitting the truth indeed. It's not that Singapore hasn't thought of locking the city down, and let everyone wear masks. Of course, doing so would be best in containing the virus, but such a small place like Singapore would not be able to withstand it. Not everyone can bear the costs like China for locking down its cities, and not everyone can be like China, which can produce batteries and cars, and achieve a daily production rate of 5 million masks."

Screengrab via Weibo

"(Hongkongers) are foolish, yes. That's the truth. I love hearing it."

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"I think he is extremely clear on Singapore's circumstances."

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"He tells it as it is, and makes a lot of sense."

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"Haha, Hongkongers are really embarrassing."

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"Some Hongkongers are known all over the world for their moronic, ignorant and shameless behaviour."

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"This Mr Chan is someone who sees things clearly."

Minority of people who disagree

But not everyone agreed with Chan's remarks.

Screengrab via Weibo

"Don't wear masks... great! I wish you strength and health to tide over the virus outbreak when it comes to your country."

Screengrab via Weibo

"I feel that this is already a sort of condescension." 

Screengrab via Weibo

"Singapore is a highly elitist system, the same as America. They don't believe in the so-called will of the people. Only those few in the world are fooled by America."

Diversification is paramount for Singapore's survival

While the Chinese media mostly focused on Chan's remarks on Hong Kong, it left out the part where Chan moved on to talk about an issue on the national level -- diversification of the country's supply chain.

He could be heard saying he would not allow Chinese tourist arrivals in Singapore to grow beyond 20 percent, nor would he allow the same to happen for other markets.

This is because Singapore might be "held ransom" by others should it become too dependent on a single country, he explained.

"You look at what happened to Taiwan, South Korea, Japan," he said.

"When the market is turned off, either for political reasons or economical reasons, we are dead, correct or not?"

In a memo seen by Mothership, SCCCI's president Roland Ng has since responded to the leak, saying the act was "deeply disappointing" and constituted a "clear breach of trust".

He further said the incident has "serious implications" on Singapore's standing, and that SCCCI is currently investigating the matter.

Top image via Chan Chun Sing's Facebook