Monday 17 February 2020

Hey, ministers, stop getting photographed watching other people doing actual work

Dear ministers,

How are you holding up?

You must have your hands full dealing with this Covid-19 thing. Just remember to wash them regularly with soap. Ha!

You should take care of yourselves too, and that’s why I want to offer one tiny suggestion if I may – for your own protection.

Stop having pictures taken of yourselves watching other people doing actual work.

Recently, Choa Chu Kang GRC MP and South West District Mayor Low Yen Ling posted pictures on Facebook of her watching workers cleaning an HDB lift and staircase railing.

I believe the mayor was just trying to reassure her constituents that she was personally making sure the place was properly sanitised after a confirmed case at the block, and also acknowledge the workers who are “working tirelessly to protect us”.

Unfortunately, like the Covid-19 virus, one of her photos went viral last week and for the wrong reasons.

Mr Brown shared the photo with a sarcastic comment: “I feel very reassured by the sheer number of bosses overseeing this cleaning exercise. The Eye Power will ensure the lifts are clean and free of #coronavirus.”

Someone else wrote: “I’d be more impressed if the MPs actually took a turn with the cleaning. To truly understand what the front-line staff deal with and what the citizens of the country deal with.”

I feel bad for Ms Low because she meant well. But she wasn’t the only one photographed using “eye power” since the outbreak.

I have seen pictures of ministers Masagos Zulkifli, Josephine Teo and Ng Chee Meng standing around and watching people clean stuff.

It’s not a good look.

The trend started last month with that epic photo of Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing and Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen watching hundreds of SAF servicemen pack masks for distribution.

The photo was posted on Reddit with just two words: “Eye power.”

In case you don’t know what that means, according to, “eye power” is “a phrase frequently used on someone who does not help, but simply stares as though he/she is rendering help through the power of his/her eyes”.

That is, what the ministers were doing in those photos.

I mean, I get it. You’re ministers. We can’t expect you to perform manual labour.

But if you spot a photographer, at least wayang a bit lah. Pick up a washcloth. Wipe something. If only for a few seconds. (Not that you need any advice on how to wayang.)

Or simply pose with people when they are not working.

Here’s an idea – maybe not have your picture taken at all.

That’s the surest way of protecting yourselves from becoming a meme like the Mayor of South West District.

- Published in The New Paper, 17 February 2020

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