Sam Tan Goes Back To Work After Fall

Poor Mr Sam Tan. The Minister of State for Manpower And Foreign Affairs had a bad fall at home last Saturday (May 6) and pulled a thigh muscle, and hurt his wrist, palm and back. He was unable to move and had to be treated in hospital.

However, the 58-year-old still attended the first-ever May Day celebration for foreign domestic workers as its guest of honour on Sunday (May 7), just the day after sustaining the painful fall. At the event, Mr Tan also gave out appreciation cards designed and written by students to foreign domestic workers.



Duly Reported

And naturally, Today duly reported on Mr Tan’s recent injury and what he did despite it. This is what the paper quoted him as saying:

I told the doctor, even (if) I’ve to sit on a wheelchair or (use) crutches, please fix my leg so that I can come. […] Rain or shine, whether healthy or not so healthy, if duty calls, we’ve to be there.

The article didn’t fail to mention either that Mr Tan also had to Parliament on Monday and is due to leave for Alaska on Tuesday (May 9) for the Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting.

It seems there’s simply no rest for important people.


Although Mr Tan’s day was undeniably taxing for someone of his age, many netizens, upon reading the story posted on Today’s Facebook page, were either unsympathetic or completely apathetic, and worse still, some made snide remarks.

Simply put, no one was really impressed with the coverage.

Here are some reasons why:

1. Perceived Propaganda

Rightly or wrongly, mainstream media sites like Today are perceived to be inclined to write positively about local politicians from the ruling party.

It didn’t help that The Straits Times wrote a similarly angled report on Mr Tan too.

It’s understandable that highlighting Mr Tan’s fall at home and how he still made it to the event is probably the best way to generate interest in a mundane May Day event.

But in today’s media climate, it’s so very possible that netizens will judge every single positive story about a ruling party politician, especially one that paints the politician as noble and selfless, as a thinly veiled attempt at wayang.

After the PR disaster by Minister of State Koh Poh Koon, should that risk be taken?


2. Pretty Ironic

The irony of this news report is that it portrays the minister as someone who had to overcome tough conditions in order to attend an event and continue his job, when the whole purpose of the event was to show thanks to foreign workers who have probably faced even tougher conditions in their home country that forced them to come to Singapore to work in the first place.

And while in Singapore, these foreign workers face struggles too. Read our story on the struggles that foreign workers face in Singapore.

Yet, the mainstream media chose to highlight the struggle of a minister of state who probably gets paid many times more than these workers and probably has a comfortable air-conditioned car to get to work in.

And we rarely even encounter news about the sacrifices that these foreign workers face on a daily basis in order to show up to work — at least, not promoted to that extent. In fact, locals too face similar sacrifices.

Unsurprisingly, many netizens didn’t hesitate to point that fact out.

minister tan todayminister tan todayminister tan today


3. It’s His Job

It’s strange to make the news for being devoted to your job. No other workers in Singapore gain national recognition for working despite being sick — except for certain politicians.

Netizens also pointed out that as the Minister of State for Manpower, May Day events are arguably the most important events for the minister, and he should attend.

Thus, why is he gaining credit for simply doing his job?
minister tan today

minister tan today


The Bigger Picture

In retrospect, it’s sad that Mr Tan had such a terrible accident. Having to go to the hospital is no light matter.

However, we understand netizens’ feelings towards the news report.

To put things simply, Mr Tan effort is worth applauding.

However, does it deserve such reportage from the media just because he’s a ruling party politician, when there are hundreds of others facing similar, if not worse, situations?

Featured image from Facebook