Netizens have hit out against a segment of the National Day Rally which focused on encouraging Singaporeans to consume more healthy food, such as brown rice and wholemeal bread in an effort to combat a rising trend of diabetes among citizens.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s recent National Day Rally speech drew criticisms from a surprisingly wide spectrum of society, with netizens expressing concern that the government’s new found focus on healh concerns totally misses the point on crucial links between health and personal income level.
Even normally pro-PAP netizens did not shy away from voicing criticism of PM Lee’s NDR speech. Expressing concern that many pro-PAP commentators had blindly jumped onto the bandwagon in the fight against diabetes, former Nominated Member of Parliament Calvin Cheng wrote that he was disturbed by the number of “Let them eat cake” comments appearing on Facebook. (A reference to a famous quote by Marie Antoinette, the last queen of France, who was reviled as a symbol of a bloated and out-of-touch governing aristocracy in revolutionary France. A similar example can also be found locally when former PAP MP turned presidential hopeful Halimah Yacob told reporters that Singaporeans can turn to fish as a cheaper source of protein if chicken prices became too expensive.)
“Eating healthy is often not a choice for the low-income. For example, PM Lee encourages people to eat brown rice and wholemeal bread. However, brown is more expensive than white rice; wholemeal bread is more expensive than white bread,” wrote Cheng.
Others were less subtle with their criticisms, posting comments that derided PM Lee for failing to understand the average Singaporean’s daily struggle with money and time.
“Cant believe he spent 2/3 of it talking about diabetes and some apps and not even mention about current economic climate and challenges,” wrote one Redditer. “Furthermore, there wasnt anything new or any proper strategy besides generic advice and lame jokes.”
Some netizens, who also calculated the actual cost of spending time on exercise, related that it was nearly impossible for overstretched lower to middle income families to spend their already limited resources on gym memberships and sports gear.