On 13 March, Education Minister Chan Chun Sing posted a series of pictures of his visit to Jurong Secondary School in Facebook. What’s unusual about the post though was that the guided tour of the school was conducted entirely by students of the school. Guided tour of schools for visiting Ministers are usually done by the principal and senior staff of the respective schools.
Captioning his post as a “memorable visit”, Chan praised the school for the confidence it had in its students, for allowing them to show him around the school.
“I was left in the good hands of Vivian, Yi Xuan and their schoolmates, from the moment I arrived at Jurong Secondary School. They showed me around the school with great pride, deftly answered my questions, and shared many interesting details that reflected their interest and love for their school.
“It was clear that the principal and teachers have tremendous faith and trust in their students – they are given space to lead independently and be themselves, and the confidence that this instils in the students shone brightly.”
Most people who responded to Chan’s post thanked him for being down to earth, and for encouraging the students. Others praised the Minister for connecting with the students and giving them the encouragement to be leaders who need not be hand-held. Yet others praised the school for its bold move in allowing the students to do the guided tour for the Education Minister.
Jurong Secondary School shared Chan’s post as well and said: “Thank you Minister Chan for your affirmation that we have helped our students in their journey to become Champions of Mind and Leaders with Heart!”
Some however, were more skeptical. They pointed out that the guided tour was likely cleared through multiple layers of the bureaucracy and approved by Chan himself. Others suggested that it would have been recommended as a means to showcase Chan’s common touch, his connection with the people, and his folksy charm.
Chan was ridiculed and mocked when he was leading the trade and industry Ministry. In early 2020, a leak of a recording from a closed-door meeting between Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCCI) members and minister Chan Chun Sing ruffled some feathers. In the leaked 25-minute recording of Mr Chan’s remarks during the meeting Chan suggested that surgical masks were not the solution to contain the Covid-19 outbreak.
In June 2020 Chan slipped-up during an interview and said that cotton came from sheep. “(We) don’t have too many sheep in Singapore to produce cotton,” he said. Internet users quickly lined up lambast him over the mistake. “Baba black sheep have you any wool? Simple nursery rhymes to remember ok,” said one Facebook comment.
It was not long before Chan cottoned on to the error, and said he had a “good laugh” when he realised what he had done. “To any one (especially young children) watching the video — cotton definitely doesn’t come from sheep, it comes from cotton plants!” he said in a Facebook post. “I should catch up on some sleep,” he added — prompting a citizen to respond: “I heard counting sheep helps.”
His fortunes seem to have turned since he moved to the Education Ministry in May last year. Last month, he drew accolades for sharing of a funny story where he misheard a student. The post went viral with over 500 shares and 8,400 reactions on Facebook.
Last week, two People’s Action Party (PAP) insiders in speaking to this publication suggested that it has been decided that Chan will lead the PAP, and will be the 4th Prime Minister of Singapore.