Many people enjoy Kim Huat’s videos. An alternative online persona of Mr Brown, we started off reading his blogs, then his articles in Today, one of which ruffled so many feathers in the establishment that he was called out as a “partisan player” (patently false but no consequences as they are the establishment) whose views “distort the truth”. Ironically, I stopped taking Today seriously after that even though it’s Mr Brown’s opinion pieces which were rather tongue-in-cheek. He continued with his hilarious podcasts with Mr Miyagi for a while, then some years ago, the character of Singlish-speaking Kim Huat emerged. So what do you do if you want to be as popular as Kim Huat? You talk like him lor.
This silly thing you talk about on social media right. Everybody start to run for a surgical mask. But is the surgical mask the solution anot? Then if the surgical mask is not the solution, and no matter how many millions of masks we have, we will never have enough. And the whole world is fighting for this right?
The solution to what problem ha, sir? If you’re talking about getting infection hor, chances are, even if there are 100 cases out there, you won’t get infected so easily lah. Singapore so big, right? But hor, why people buy Toto leh? Slim chance but still got chance to kena mah. It’s not about whether the mask is a solution or not the solution. The problem is, people scared. If suay suay kena how?
Escalating prices of masks
Now as we speak, the mask used to be 20 cents one piece, now is $2 one piece. And now you pay $3 you also may not get a mask. So, it’s a very difficult decision. If we don’t issue mask, and if we don’t issue surgical masks, everybody scold us. Everybody say that we don’t care. If we still issue surgical masks, and give everybody surgical masks just to make them feel shiok shiok, because they saw Carrie Lam wore masks right, at the conference right, everybody must wear mask right?
Wa, sir, you never wear mask before ah? Wear mask can feel shiok one meh? I think your S2 never tell you about all the masks being openly shipped out from Singapore to other countries. Our limited supply still leaking out as patriotic Chinese ship mountains of surgical masks back home ley. Anzua gong?
So this is not a problem because the mask is not the solution? You say not necessary, not the solution, but the shops got no stock ley. Why? How can that be if it’s not something useful or possibly even valuable? If you give them 4 masks FOC, even the usually gian png people don’t want to collect because it doesn’t boost their sense of security. They just want to be able to buy masks from the shops. They don’t want to see the situation like so terok, all the shops every day no stock no stock. Worrying you know?
Hong Kong’s issue with masks
Today you see newspaper? What is happening to Hong Kong now? What did South China Morning Post just report about Hong Kong? They are down to less than one months’ supply of masks for their medical people. Which means that when the medical people don’t even get the masks you think they dare to go and take care of the sick people?
Sir, you remember or not? Last month you told us Singapore got enough masks if “managed properly”. Now clearly not enough, so is it our fault leh? As for Hong Kong, they tell us not enough, maybe actually enough if managed properly leh.
Singapore to avoid masks shortage
If we have done what we have done like Hong Kong without thinking, and ask Carrie Lam, PM, myself, Lawrence Wong, Gan Kim Yong go to press conference everyone wear a mask, today everybody panic. I can guarantee you, today our hospital system would have broken down. They would be no more surgical masks for our hospital people because people would have all used up like tissue paper. If every Singaporean used a surgical mask, one day we would burn 5 million surgical masks, if not more. And since we don’t know how long we got to fight this war right, and the supply lines are cut already right, how long must we conserve the surgical masks to make sure that our medical system still can work? It could be three months, it could be six months, correct? You all now understand the difficulty? But then we have a problem. Because everybody is clamouring for a mask. And we know that the surgical masks will all be wasted and we will end up like Hong Kong one of these days without masks for their medical workers. So what did we do?But sir, you control so much and don’t wear mask yourself people still panic what. If need to reserve masks for the hospitals, I can understand. If tell me no need to wear mask in crowded places I don’t understand.
Masks distribution was a gamble
Can I be frank? We took a gamble. I took a gamble. To calm the nerves, I distribute four to everybody to use only when you are sick and go to a hospital, to calm the nerves. But to issue four to every family, I burn another 5 million masks from my limited stockpile. When China now asks for masks right, China is burning at a rate of hundreds of millions per day you know? Which country and which production line can even meet China’s needs? Cannot right? I examine you know, go down to this level. One machine, one machine, the three-ply one. One month, 2 million masks. Max rate. One machine. So we took a gamble.
Aiyoh sir, you gamble for what? You come and ask me, I will tell you, your 4-mask trick guarantee fail one. No need to gamble. Why do you think those people in China “burn” so many masks a day ha, sir? Is it because they insist that everyone who is going out needs to wear mask? If that’s the case, then we small country must sacrifice for the higher level of security over there lor, right? People feel that they are not being valued. That’s why they behave this way lor.
Give people the masks. Damn bua hang liddat. Give you the masks. Don’t kan cheong. Because first of all why use that mask when it is not community outbreak of that sort, when it is not proven effective? Keep the surgical masks as much as possible to the medical people first. And if the evidence proves so, my next line of people is not to give everybody. My next line of people will be those at the front line: Drivers, service staff, or whatever. So we need to prioritise and track. So you can see right, I am having to do this literally like a military operation. When to give masks to which group of people, tier by tier. So we hear bus drivers concerned, taxi drivers concerned, we even think of how to save the masks like during SARS. You know SARS you know we got no masks right? Don’t have enough of the N95 one, what did we do?No community outbreak? Yao mo gao chor ah? So many people in the church can kena without knowing, take public transport home and still no community spread? Manage properly means sacrifice the less important, right? I agree with you that’s what you need to do if you’re desperate already, so did you underestimate how much we actually need? Nobody is insisting on free masks. They just want to have some stocks in the shops so that they can feel reassured that they can buy when they need.
Prioritise giving of masks
We literally wind down the window. Seriously! But today the bus want to wind down window also cannot. All air-con bus. See, First World Problem. (Laughter) You tell me which bus can wind down window one? Your bus can wind down window one? You find me one bus can wind down window, I’ll bring the bus to the museum already. See, so I hope you all understand, I’m being very blunt, being very frank, how we manage this thing. Now, will we issue mask to the bus driver and the taxi drivers? I’m thinking very hard now. Because I can issue you the haze masks if it is just a security blanket. But I have to ask the same thing, how long must we last in this fight?
Fear of running out of masks
Because the fear that we have issuing the four masks to every family was this: Everybody anyhow use, next week all come and ask you for more masks ah, what will our government do? If government cannot give more masks the next week, the whole country will panic right if people never calm down and listen to government and say only use when you need it. If everybody take four masks, that’s why, everybody scold us. “Wah lau eh my family got five members you give me four masks, how to enough?” I say, “Uncle, only when you sick.” “Then what if my whole family all five fellows fall sick together?” Then what’s my answer? Stay at home call the ambulance take the whole family there together already. (Laughter) No need to go and take five masks already. I mean seriously, if your whole family sick until like that then we really get ambulance, quarantine you, go and send you to NCID already, won’t be taking you mask by mask. So actually, the Chinese say, chen zhuo yi zhan (face the war calmly, 沉着应战).I understand this joke. You can paint a worst case scenario, other people can also paint a worst case scenario mah. But people want to wear the mask because even though the chances of getting infected is low, it gives them some sense of security and protection. There is community spread and some may not be traceable because buses and MRT trains don’t have seat numbers mah. I’m not saying that you don’t give at all or give a lot more when you are not sure of your stocks. If surgical masks are an overkill for the general public, you can come up with an alternative. Get people to design something that is absorbent on the inside and splash-proof on the outside. Get your NSF brigades to fall in (don’t call me, I Pes E) and sew practical reusable masks for the people instead of packing 4 miserable disposable ones. Put 5 red stars and a moon on the white masks. Courtesy of SAF chop. You all wear it at press conferences. Give Singaporeans some confidence in the made-in-SG masks. It’s the thought and leadership by example that counts – a lot.
Oops… I Hokkien peng not supposed to say all this.
Comparisons between countries
But the problem today in social media is this: People like to compare. Eh why other country do this you all never do? Then how come today the social media never ask, “How come Hong Kong run out of masks, we never run out of masks?” “How come China run out of masks we never run out of masks?” So you see we like to choose the type of thing that we like to select and compare but we never think about how long. Because my number one question in my mind now is exactly what Mr Lee said: “I don’t know how long we must fight this.” “And I must prepare for the day where I have to at least fight this for six months.” Correct? SARS took us at least six months.But you guys teach the people how to compare one what. Always compare countries with a lot of democracy lah, messy messy, economy worse off than Singapore lah. Hougang and Aljunied this one that one don’t have lah. How can you blame people for comparing when it’s your turn to look bad? Btw, You got update or not? You don’t know Hong Kong’s shortage is easing meh? How come their shortage is eased as time goes by? How come ours gets worse leh? I think many of their tailors sprang into action to sew thousands of masks every day. They got instant mask factories springing up all over the shop wor. Not surprising, it’s not rocket science mah. You got call Carrie Lam and ask for advice or not?
How SARS differs from Covid-19
That was a very good case because SARS the lethality, usually is like that, lethality very high, the disease die off very fast one. The lethality like flu very low one, it will lasts for long time. So we don’t know which one to be happy or sad. You want the slow boil one or you want the sharp one. Because that also then later affects the economic recovery plan. So these are the real unknowns that we have to deal with. So, DORSCON orange did we anticipate it? Yes. Did we go and place the thing? Yes. But can we tell you all and get you ready before we announce? No. Because if that is the case, everybody get different speed, even more luan (messy). Ok, mask I explain to you already.Yao mo gao chor ah? Why must choose virus one? Don’t have any virus cannot meh? You talk like that even Hokkien peng will find it patronising leh. But we all understand. Virus come in easy, get out hard. Must sicken a hundred people first. But why cannot get us ready ley? You always inform us before moblisation what. How come will luan ley?
Runs on supermarkets
Then the next thing I want to explain to you all and share with you is this. Why did the run happen? The run on the supermarket right? Actually this one I damn ashamed. You know why? Sia suay. (Laughter)
I don’t know how to say in English. Anyone? English sia suay called what? [Disgrace, crowd says.] (Laughter) We embarrassed ourselves. [Crowd: Disgraceful.] We disgrace ourselves. Don’t say Third World. Third World some people also quite nice one. Like Tommy Koh said, don’t criticise people Third World. Actually it’s not kiasu. Actually never think. Never think. First of all, what is there to run? Of all things, rice? Rice since 1970, we’ve been stockpiling. In fact I can tell you I’m very happy now. Finally got people turnover my rice stockpile. (Laughter)
Actually that night, Friday night, I buay tahan. I was thinking maybe some retailers, eh are you all involved anot? Retailers trying to clear their old Chinese New Year stock, Christmas stock, send out all the video and everybody go and chiong. So now when you go to Sheng Siong and NTUC, you buy all fresh stock. (Laughter)
Because all the suckers have bought the old stock. (Laughter)
Who responsible? Put up your hand? (Laughter)
Who circulate one?You are absolutely right, sir. Sia suay lor. But why people so gian png ley? These are the same people who rush to the grand opening of some new facility officiated by your people hoping to get some freebies lor. How can complain about the kind of traits that drive your supporters? Your supporters very sia suay meh?
Ok, but today, come to social media that Rose talked about. Today the problem is not psychological defence. We can teach 95 percent to be steady. 5 percent not steady, actually that night, over the weekend ah, I really analyse all the picture and video circulated, you know? And I concluded there’s only about less than 10 video and less than 30 picture circulated. I can almost name you all the photos and videos I have seen. The first one is the Auntie Bukit Indomie. Correct anot? The one 15 one? That one photo kenna send to me like five, six times. Even my WhatsApp group I don’t know you all kenna how many time. Then another two idiots wear masks wear goggle, young couple go and buy things. (Laughter)
But actually the number of photos is finite you know? The number of people accessing it is disproportionate so everybody scare everybody. Then the videos also same thing mah. There’s only two videos circulating, damn haolian one, damn show off. Show their bomb shelter, “Wah lau I got my minimart here.” You think I never see? (Laughter)
So then everybody wah lau, he got minimart I also must have minimart. Sia suay. Then so I buay tahan I went to scold people already but of course, PM won’t scold people. Scold people must leave to people like me to scold people. So, you think about it. Rice you scared ah, shi jie mo ri (end of the world, 世界末日), cos people think DORSCON Orange means Wuhan. You want to stock rice, stock noodle, I can tahan. Then why stock toilet paper? (Laughter)
If you eat all the rice and instant noodles you confirm diarrhoea. (Laughter)
You explain to me lah.OK, sir, I esprain. It’s because the gahmen always tell people, too much freedom, too much politically sensitive discussion, fake news, street protests, labour strike, demonstrations, Singapore habis. Is iy you ask people how many think that Singapore will last for 100 years kee chiu? You keep warning people about 世界末日 if your gahmen got no full support and control, cannot blame people scared of 世界末日 when it’s Dorscon Orleng what.
Toilet paper stockpiling
Then why Hong Kong people stock toilet paper? Because monkey see monkey do. Hong Kong people stock toilet paper because people scared toilet paper come from China, tomorrow China no toilet paper, we all cannot go pang sai. Right? Our toilet paper come from where? Indonesia and Malaysia. So got Indonesia and Malaysia cut off our toilet paper supply anot? Cut off that one, the famous word from Sun Xueling, “bo zhuar zui ah ho“. (Laughter)
No paper, water also can. So why do we behave so idiotically I cannot tahan. Right? Then the selfish idiot go and take all the alcohol swab because got no more clean wipe right? Take alcohol swab, you know the small small one, to clean table ah. That one people use for medical, you know the diabetic patient must clean the skin then poke the needle through one? Wah lau eh you take that one to clean table, clean finger. That one I really cannot tahan.
Why condoms also get run out of stock. (Laughter) Press lift? (Laughter) Self-entertainment? In case of lockdown self-entertainment? (Laughter) I thought at least lockdown nine months later TFR (Total Fertility Rate) go up still got chance. (Laughter) So can you explain to me why Singaporean like that? So buay tahan. So that night some of you right were at PM’s chap gao mei. 80 percent of you were not listening to PM’s speech. I know because I watching behind. Everybody forwarding all the stupid photo and video to the friends correct anot? You all don’t bluff me I from behind I see everyone. (Laughter) Nobody listening to PM. You are listening? You multitasking. (Laughter) Then I also have to 8:30 wah have to send out “everybody steady steady”. Wah I never had my Facebook post in one hour few thousand people see one you know? Today I check the thing, 700,000 people saw that Facebook post to tell people steady lah. You see now social media how fast the thing viral. I got reason anot? No reason.
No to rationing
Then people ask me, eh got people shout. Eh, why don’t you all ration? So why did I hold back the decision to ration? Because once you see people run right, got problem. Because if we that day if we say ration then the people must be, “You confirm don’t have that’s why you ration, right?” Lagi panic right? Like this steady lah. Anyway since I got to clear rice stock and noodle stock right, so you all carry on.(Laughter) You really think about it, sia suay you know. Then ah I really cannot tahan already. Until Saturday night I got to scold people. That’s why got this viral thing going around say supposedly from me, haha is from me lah because I cannot tahan already. I must tell my grassroots leader. You know why this is so bad? Hong Kong behave badly. Okay lah, their problem lah, correct? But if Hong Kong behave badly, and even if they behave like idiots, somebody will do business with them because they are part of China. If we behave badly, people think that our society is like that one, we lose our brain one, and cannot be steady one, got anybody want to do business with us after this anot?Aiyoh, sir, why you keep saying Hong Kong people behave badly? You say one ha, their gahmen very good meh? Then lose brain got problem one meh? Low IQ sometimes can be an advantage one you know? If instead of getting our NS boys to wear shower cap and pack masks hor, you mobilise combat engineers to build a mask factory in 10 days, maybe people will be scared of us. That’s why you didn’t do it, right? You want people to think we are stupid. Smart move.
I think no need to worry that people don’t want to do our business lah. Chinese people talk loudly, spit and shit everywhere still got so many countries welcome them what. If people clear up the stocks in other country, the retailers not happy meh? If gian png people queue up at the community hub to receive free banana and mineral water to hear you talk you not happy meh? If people don’t rush for free bee hoon at your election rally you happy meh?
Singapore held ransom
And already people chen huo da jie (take advantage of someone else’s misfortune, 趁火打劫), people try to raise the price already. Then we all behave like idiots like that, the foreign supplier will all lagi raise their price. We all buy masks almost have to send the SAF to guard the masks. Pay money already, before the thing move out of the factory must pay one more time. Go to the airplane must pay one more time. Every step, in order to fight for mask worldwide behind the scene. And if Singaporeans behave like that, all my ESG officer, ST Log officer, all will die. People will say that, “Aha! Your country like that right? All kan cheong already right? Mask ah, instead of 20 cent go $2, now got 20 cent go $3. So you see, we all in trying to be – not we all lah, some of us, just a small group behaving like idiots like that ah will kill all of us. You will kill our current price negotiations strategy. You will kill our future business opportunities.Alamak sir! You worry too much lah. We’re not new to ransom lah, sir. Suka suka electricity go up, water go up, MRT go up. Bo bian what. This one not ransom meh? Sekali surgical mask got the word surgical, need HSA licence to sell, supplier get charged for licence 20 cents also automatically become $2 ler. Not always because the supplier’s fault see us desperate want to mark up wor.
Urge business leaders to do their part
So can you all do me a favour? Next time you see an idiot ah, queuing up at NTUC buying 16 packets of rice, can you just go up to him and ask: “Eh friend you need so many packet of rice for what?” You open provision shop ah?”
Yesterday my wife go and buy bread, the fellow say got one auntie come and buy 36 loaves of bread. (Laughter) For the neighbour, so caring right? So caring for the neighbours. So you see, why do we behave like that? So seriously, I was very upset on Saturday, because it has long-term implications on our international standing. Every country can behave like idiots, Singaporeans must not behave like idiots. Then we behave properly, then we show the world how different we can be. Then people will have confidence. Now the world haven’t even peak yet, you know. Then we all zhen jiao da luan (panic and lose psychological ground, 阵脚大乱). We all gabrah ourselves. Then how to go and convince people we all steady one? Right? Ok, so I come out very nicely, say nicely, say nicely. So of course when I talk to the media I say nicely lah, hoping that they will carry the message nicely. But when I talk to my own grassroots leader, I point blank one. If we continue to behave like that, the virus won’t kill us. Our own behaviour will kill ourselves. Correct or not? It’s exactly what’s happening. So now I’m trying to stop this. So today, I think things are more calm already ah.Things are more calm because stocks replenished very fast mah. If food supplies kena held back and reserved for those who are malnourished and underweight (prioritise mah), supermarket shelves remain empty you see people calm or not.
Other future runs
But you just wait ah. How many of you believe that in two days’ time ah, something will run again? Maybe hand sanitiser, I don’t know lah. I don’t know what else people will run. Then hand sanitiser is a First World Problem, know. If don’t have hand sanitiser, use what? (Audience member: Soap.) Soap lah. Don’t have Lux soap also got Ayam soap, the long long one, the brown, the yellow colour one. Those who don’t know how to laugh, very young one. That one must cut into square cube one, last time Ayam brand one. So sanitiser is really for front line staff really got no time to wash hands. But the rest of us every five metres got one toilet one, please go and use soap and wash hands. Correct or not? Then people say, how can the government be so bad? Never stock up hand sanitiser? Hand sanitiser essential goods or not? Don’t have right? Ok ah, I’m telling you how we intend to stock up essential goods and I need your cooperation because all in the business. Let me ask ah, when in emergency like this ah, contingency like this, can we still choose whether I want kangkong or taugey or not?Ya, toilet not too far away, but you got see the coffee shop toilet how dirty and koyak or not? You sure got soap or not? Must cut Ayam brand soap into small pieces and carry in the pocket ah? Have we even reached that state yet? Furthermore, you wash hand already got clean paper towels to dry your hands or not? I don’t mean the wipe table rag ha. So easy to substitute the convenience of hand sanitiser meh? What happens if I’m sitting in the bus or the MRT train then suddenly my nose itchy I want to scratch. Got Ayam soap no water how ha?
As far as I’m concerned ah, I choose carbohydrate, rice noodle. Right? Make sure I have enough for prolonged period of time. Protein. Ah? Meat, whether it is chicken, fish or whatever, all substitutable one right? Vegetables. Greens. Whether it is frozen, canned food, all substitutable right? That’s how we stockpile our things. Where got people “Wah, I go down there got no more kangkong!” Wah, this is really ah, very Singaporean you know. I mean canned food cannot. If really worse come to this ah, the supply lines cut for three four months ah, you tell me I must still go and find kangkong and taugey? We will use what we have, and we must be a bit more hardy than this. Cannot be like that lah. So I don’t know where to hide my face when I hear this kind of thing.Wa, sir, you sound so presidential hor. Chicken expensive eat fish lor. As if we Hokkien peng don’t know how to eat whatever is available when we are desperate meh.
The question is, are we desperate yet ha? Sir, this kind of behaviour very Singaporean lah. But don’t pray pray, this is what makes Singapore tick wor. People not kiasu, not kan cheong, not greedy, not selfish, the property market won’t be what it is today ley. If people don’t go wow when you build something expensive and impressive for them, if people all 讲义气, don’t vote for bullies, know how to take care of themselves and not 欺善怕恶, maybe it won’t be you talking to us today.
We have a spoonfed population that relies on the government to come up with solutions to every single problem including no kangkong and toilet paper. How do you not expect them to behave in such a sia suay way?
Singaporeans not independent, ignorant and low EQ never mind. Why? Because your government too good to them lor. Everything you control. They no need to think. Won’t luan mah.
When they compare with other countries, people also compare all the wrong things. They think Hong Kongers are stupid meh? Try talking this way to them lor. See how they talk back lor. You think they’re diffident and clueless like Singaporeans ah? Throw them into the deep end they cannot survive ah? In Hong Kong, being obedient alone is not enough one OK.
Other issues that cloud planning
Then ah, another one ah, the mask one I cannot tahan, must tell you all. Today I must vomit blood. We give four masks right? Then the question come, “Eh I got children. You got children size or not? Then don’t have children size, how the children use the mask?” Surgical mask ah. Now what’s the answer? (Silence from the audience) What’s the answer. (More silence) Eh, surgical mask surgical mask right? If really need to cover up the children, if the mask is too big what do we do? If cannot, if you put the surgical mask over the children right, too loose right, what do you do? Tie a knot lah, can or not? We all know right? This one elastic one right, rubber band right, tie one knot can already what. Like that also must make a big song and dance. That’s why ah, government ministers very busy. I’m trying to think of two steps down the road, what to do ah. But you see, so this type of thing ah, outside this room ah cannot scold people right, must be very nice right. So can you all, next time you see this kind of behaviour, can you help me ah, get rid of all these kind of questions at least we all can think clearly, two steps down the road what to do. Wah lau eh, I tell you, last one two week ah vomit blood. So mask one settle already ah.Ya lor. I know government ministers so busy. Must address business people and talk about masks and toilet paper, kangkong and Ayam soap. How to be not busy? In fact huh, sir, you are so down to earth that if I didn’t know, I thought you’re some CSM and not a general ley. Other country’s generals don’t talk this way one ley. They also busy doing other things ley. So 委屈 you like that very 大材小用. Singaporeans are so fortunate. They can survive without the need to take initiative and think for themselves.
Help for businesses
So why February 18? It’s not why February 18, actually whatever we can do, we do… ok? Then when it comes to that type of thing, we won’t be so specific one, ok. Cash is cash. Cash is fungible one. We will try to help all those affected one, the tour agents, the tourist industry, the buses, the whatnot. We will try to give you some… the most difficult problem you all have told me, over the last two weeks that SCCCI have helped me is the zi jing zhou zhuan (cash flow, 资金周转). The cash flow. Right? So, wherever I give you the cash flow then you flow lah. But I don’t want to be so prescriptive and say “I give you car park.” Because I give you car park, the other fellow don’t need car park, then he scold me. Correct or not? So we just help you, whether you tourist… tour agency and whatnot, we try to give you some ways whereby you can flow your cash. Correct? Now, having said this, ok, then what are we going to do for the Budget?
Now, go back to Mr Lee’s question again. A lot of people are now trying to get over the difficult times, du guo zhe ge nan guan (get past this difficult time, 度过这个难关) Right? But this one will be very short-sighted. Ok, learn from SARS. SARS everybody, every country only prepare to get past SARS, correct? But actually, what is most important? The most important is to position ourselves after SARS, to make sure that we recover fastest. That’s why the global financial crisis, everybody fall like a rock right? Then we the next year went up 14.5 per cent.You mean like stock market, drop low low, take a lot of positions then wait for go up ah? I also want to earn 14.5% ley, but how ha? Can you give me some tips or details or not? Which stock to buy ha? Somehow this type of numbers always elude me. My salary hasn’t gone up over the last 20 years even though you say GDP how good how good. 14.5% end up in whose pocket I also don’t know.
Because while we’re dealing with the current, we must make sure that we think two steps down the road. So in the Budget, you will hear the following things. There’s one part of the Budget that will help to stabilise the situation and support all the difficult challenges that you all are facing now. But I must ask you all this favour. Don’t just – bu yao zhi shi kan yan qian (don’t just look at the present, 不要只是看眼前). Don’t just look at the here and now. Take this chance to ask ourselves. When the recovery finally comes, whether it is six months, nine months, how do we position your business, our economy to go out faster than the rest of the people?Thank you sir for your advice. But this kind of advice only suitable for Hokkien peng like me lah. Those people you were talking to are big shots in the business world ley. Need to remind them to look ahead and position themselves for recovery meh?
I can tell you, Hong Kong, they’re not thinking of this. Because they are all only here and now. We must distinguish ourselves as Singapore to think of the beyond here and now. So there will be, beyond the immediate help package, there will be a package which I hope you all seriously take advantage of, which is to position your business beyond the crisis. Then when finally the recovery come, we can all do much better. Can? So that one, you must do. That one you must plan. And I need to ask you all to do this.Yao mo gao chor ah? You like that say Hong Kong government? It’s not that they will know or get offended or what. Right or wrong, I don’t think they will be bothered also. After all, you are addressing Hokkien peng. But Hong Kong situation very different wor. The people in Hong Kong very independent and depend a lot less on their government than our 70% here do.
Don’t sack workers
When you got now got spare capacity right, can you all don’t sack the workers immediately? Take the government help, train the workers, use some chance to help the workers to stay around for a while so that you prepare for the next phase. I don’t know whether three months or six months. But if you let go of the workers immediately, then we are all in trouble again.
[Audience: Ok, in fact I actually try to talk to Ministry of Manpower… I agree with what you say, we should think after this critical period. How we better groom up our business, I mean the turnover, all these thing. But then MOM was saying to me that if let’s say you’re not able to retain the staff, then let them go.]
Don’t be so ji dong (agitated, 激动)
[Audience: I don’t want to sack my staff, but MOM was asking me to sack my staff.]
Ok, first ah. Steady ah. Take deep breath first. (Laughter)
So sad. You don’t know why people so 激动 ji dong meh? Maybe you should visit him in his office, sit down with him and see for yourself what he is going through. Maybe, just maybe, all those years in the army didn’t prepare you for this. Maybe his job is not as easy as you think it is lor.
Urge business leaders to change business model
So now let’s be very frank ah. Just now I was very blunt already. Some of you have to change the business model one. If you don’t change the business model, and you become… if you don’t diversify and have concentration risk, even if we help you this time, we cannot help you the next time. So if we help you, can sumpah or not? We make sure we help you, but you all must help yourself. Ok? If we still have not learned the lesson about diversification, and I don’t mean just China. I mean China, India and everything ah, we better learn it fast. Because it affects you, it affects me, it affects all of us.
Tourism in Singapore not numbers game
So I give you an example. Tourism. Actually, do you know that in Singapore, our tourist market can grow up even faster. I got tonnes of tourists queuing up to come to Singapore. You know that I tell STB, don’t take them. We now don’t go for numbers game. And I will not allow the Chinese tourists to grow more than 20 percent. Not the Indian market, not the Indonesian market, because we will be held ransom. You look at what happened to Taiwan, South Korea, Japan. When the market is turned off, either for political reasons or economical reasons, we are dead, correct or not? So I have done what I can do at the national level. I need your help. At your local level, can you all also do that. That applies to tourists. That also applies to supply chains.Wa, sir you so smart hor. I thought you 来者不拒 one. Right. Don’t depend too much on them so in case if kena boycott we won’t suffer so much, right? That’s why your gahmen gave out so many scholarships right? If they boycott us, we gain and not lose. So smart.
Avoid single source supply chains
Today, a lot of us depend on the cheap Chinese import, but we end up single source. Ok, having from two Chinese cities doesn’t mean it’s double source ah. (Laughter) Eh you all don’t laugh, got people tell me, “Eh I diversify, I got one Hubei, one Hunan.” Because sometimes the problem is this. Well we do have a problem. Which are the two biggest factories in the world now? It’s China –Without the background info hor, I would really have thought that you were briefing Hokkien peng. I think hor, the only reason these bosses and managers guai guai sit down and listen to your lecture is because you hold the purse strings lor. Of course got money to give good lah. But how much can you give for them to keep their workers month after losing month? The equivalent of 4 pieces of masks?
GE coming soon ley. Should we also avoid a single source of leadership ha?