SINGAPORE – Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing took to Facebook on Wednesday (July 8) to explain and set the context for leaked audio clips of a closed-door conversation that he had with party activists in January last year.
His clarification, via a Facebook post, came after The Online Citizen Asia published an article on its website on Wednesday, along with leaked audio clips of Mr Chan speaking on the impact of a crisis on the People’s Action Party’s results during elections.
He also said in the Facebook post that these truncated audio clips were taken out of context, and “circulated with ill-intent”.
The timing of the release on Wednesday – two days before Polling Day – was “surely not coincidental”, he added.
The closed-door conversation took place in early 2019 in the wake of Malaysia’s imposition of a restricted flying zone north of Seletar Airport, said Mr Chan, who is second assistant secretary-general of the PAP.
In its online report, The Online Citizen Asia said Mr Chan spoke at a PAP meeting to 60 attendees in the northwest division in Bukit Panjang on Jan 9 last year.
In the audio clip, which was heavily truncated, Mr Chan can be heard saying that “dependability is not a virtue” and “stability is not a virtue”.
At one point, he said: “Every election the PAP-vote problem (sic), you check back the 50-year history. Then suddenly a crisis will save us. Then we’ll start dropping again.”
He was also heard saying how the death of founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew in 2015 and the Sept 11 terror attacks in 2001 had “saved us”.
Clarifying the audio clips in which he talked about crises, Mr Chan said in his Facebook post that he had warned those at the meeting to never be complacent and think that a crisis would help the PAP secure votes at an election.
“It may be true that historically during crises, there may be a flight to quality and stability,” he said.
“But we must never take it for granted. In fact, we must work hard to serve our people, take care of them and not depend on a crisis to secure the votes.”
He also explained two other parts of the clips being circulated.
On Malaysia restricting air space access north of Seletar Airport, he said in the post that there were grave implications to the safety of flights in and out of Seletar.
“There were also grave implications to our lifelines when the approaches to our airports or seaports were restricted,” he added.
Mr Chan said he also explained that deeper forces were behind the various issues and that these issues were not personality-dependent, even though many thought they were.
“If it was so, the issue would blow away when personalities changed. But we should not be under any illusion that it was such. And we must be prepared to deal with such bilateral issues beyond specific personalities,” he said in the post.
He added that he trusts Singaporeans will understand what was shared in context.
“The points in the conversation are poignant reminders of our vulnerabilities as a small country, and the need for our people to keep serving with the right motivations and to put Singapore and Singaporeans at the forefront of everything we do,” he said in the post.
“As I said in one of the clips, winning an election has nothing to do with the 9-day campaigning. It has to do with the hard work over the previous many years.”
This is not the first instance of a leaked conversation involving Mr Chan. In February, a 25-minute recording of a closed-door meeting he had with members of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry was leaked and circulated widely on social media and messaging apps like WhatsApp.