Photo of Chan Chun Sing from Straits Times Kevin Lim

In his interview with state media CNA, Minister of State Chan Chun Sing claimed that Singaporeans who disagree with the various recent price increase are just being “emotional in the short term” and that he is sure they will “appreciate it in the long term”:

“Then you have to get into the details. How do we stagger this out so that it will not burden the average Singaporean? How do we target the help measures particularly for the lower-income group? And ultimately you have to translate it into what does it mean for the individual? Different individuals have different concerns. Now that’s only the second phase. After we have addressed those issues, then there will be a third phase which goes on to ask – will there be more price increases in the future? What will determine those price increases? And people get into those conversations. And they ask themselves, what can we do to make sure that we don’t get into this situation whereby we either waste water or we don’t judiciously harness water resources? How can we make sure that we can, one day, truly become less dependent on external water sources?

And I think even though emotionally, in the short term, it might be difficult for them to accept some of these policies and measures, they would be better able to appreciate it over the longer term.”

Regarding the 30% water price increase, Minister Chan Chun Sing deliberately left out the fact that the Public Utility Board (PUB) was exceptionally profitable and earned more than S$1 billion profit in 8 years alone.

Minister Chan Chun Sing said that he is not interested in answering “why” and prefers to focus his attention on propaganda “educating the public”:

“So you see that the conversation has gone from an initial conversation about “why now” to “how do we explain the increase to different groups of people”, to a more national concern about how do we, as a country, come to address this very existential challenge that we had ever since 1965, since our independence.This is why we go round day-to-day, group-by-group, to explain to people the challenges that we have, the options that we have. From my own experience, when you sit down and have a heart-to-heart talk with people, we can all have our own unhappiness and dissatisfaction with certain policies, certain measures. But when we put all these pieces together and let our people have a better understanding of all the pressure points we are facing, I think people will have a better appreciation of the challenges.”

Minister Chan Chun Sing also brought out CPF as an example saying that Singaporeans today love the CPF system despite it being unpopular during the 1980s. Again, without giving an example, Minister Chan Chun Sing claimed that “many other countries” became bankrupt without a system like the CPF:

“And if you look back on some of the things that we have done in the past 10, 20 years – take one example, the most obvious one, in the 1980s, when we put our CPF system on a new footing, I think there was a huge uproar because not many people could appreciate why we needed to change, why the changes were necessary and were those changes good for the country.

Today, with the experience of the last 20 to 30 years, we can say that while we may not have solved every problem, we have put ourselves on a more sustainable social security system. We have a stronger footing compared to many other countries that have essentially bankrupted their system because they weren’t prepared to take the long-term measures to put the country on a more sustainable footing.”