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Netizens mock Chee Hong Tat’s ‘ownself praises ownself’ approach to oil spill response

Netizens criticized Transport Minister Chee Hong Tat for not directly addressing why there was no initial alert about potential oil spread after the Pasir Panjang allision on 14 June. Despite Chee’s defence that government agencies managed the incident well, many believe the authorities could have responded more effectively to the oil spill.



Despite Transport Minister Chee Hong Tat’s defence during a Monday (24 June) press conference that government agencies and relevant partners have “done well” in managing the latest oil spill incident in Singapore waters, scepticism persists within the Singaporean community regarding the authorities’ response.

Observing online community sentiments reveals disappointment over the Minister’s failure to directly address why there was no initial alert about the potential spread of oil after the allision.

Many believe the authorities could have responded more effectively to the oil spill.

Additionally, some criticized the Minister’s explanation for lacking transparency and comprehensive information regarding the movement and containment strategies for the oil spill in the published timelines.

Chee Hong Tat: Booms deployed around damaged vessel not meant to fence in spilled oil

The oil spill occurred after a Netherlands-flagged dredger struck the Singapore-flagged bunker vessel Marine Honour on 14 June, causing oil from the latter’s damaged cargo tank to spill into the water.

During a joint ministerial press conference, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu, Minister Chee and National Development Minister Desmond Lee addressed media queries on the oil spill response.

While clean-up operations have been actively carried out by authorities with public support, questions have arisen about whether there was a delay in deploying oil booms around Singapore shores to contain the spill.

Members of the press raised several questions, including why there was no initial information in the first press release on 14 June about the possible spread of the oil, which surprised the public when oil washed ashore later.

The media also queried the Minister whether there is room for improvement in the deployment time of containment booms during such oil spills, given the critical need for a quick response.

In response, Minister Chee did not directly address why there was no initial alarm about the potential spread of the oil.

Instead, he defended the response times of the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and its contractor, T&T Salvage Asia, stating that they adhere to international industry standards.

He emphasized that upon discovering the oil spill, the immediate priority was to prevent further leakage from Marine Honour.

This involved ensuring the vessel’s stability and safety, securing the crew, and halting any ongoing oil release from the damaged tank.

He emphasized the urgency of promptly applying dispersants to prevent the oil from hardening, which would complicate cleanup efforts both at sea and on land.

Minister Chee detailed the specific timeline during the press conference:

  • The first MPA patrol craft arrived 11 minutes after the incident at 2:33 pm to spray dispersants in the water.
  • Following the initial response, at 2:55 pm, MPA contacted T&T Salvage Asia to deploy containment booms around the damaged bunker vessel.
  • According to Chee, the team from T&T Salvage required several hours to load the heavy equipment and additional time to sail to the site. Their boat arrived at the site at 9:41 pm, nearly 7 hours after MPA was notified of the vessel allision.
  • T&T Salvage completed laying 200 meters of booms around Marine Honour at 5:15 am on 15 June – nearly 15 hours after the incident.

Chee also explained that the deployment process can be time-consuming due to factors such as weather conditions (daytime versus nighttime operations) and the logistical challenges of handling a spill of this scale.

He clarified that these booms were not meant to “fence in” the spilt oil but rather served as a preventive measure against any further spillage from the damaged vessel.

Conservationist: Why is oil movement and strategy on containment missing from the published timelines?

In response to the Minister’s explanation, Singaporean conservationist Mr Tony O’Dempsey questioned the lack of information on how the 400 tons of oil already in the water were moving and what strategies were in place to contain it or mitigate its anticipated arrival at the southern islands.

In a Facebook post, Mr O’Dempsey, a member of the Nature Society Singapore, suggested that the MPA could have generated a wave movement model during the incident. Unfortunately, this crucial data, along with the strategies, was missing from the published timelines.

“There has been no mention of this anywhere even though it is a very obvious question to ask. ”

He criticized the Minister’s response for merely focusing on controlling the remaining oil in the damaged vessel, without mentioning the use of the MPA’s oil spill dispersion model to predict the path of the unaccounted-for 400 tons of spilled oil.

Netizens: Why public not informed earlier about the potential oil spread on the day of incident?

Observing comments from netizens on Singapore state media CNA’s Facebook post and YouTube, as well as The Straits Times, it is clear that questions persist regarding the efficacy of the authorities’ response.

Concerns are raised about the extensive spread of oil to Singapore shores, the significant clean-up efforts required, and the impact on the environment.

Some criticized the Minister for failing to directly address why the public was not informed earlier about the potential spread of the oil.

Some discussed the perceived failure of authorities to promptly warn the public about potential oil spills along coastal regions, despite having separate departments for communication and emergency response.

Meanwhile, a netizen shared a different perspective, acknowledging the challenges faced by authorities post-oil spill, including their priority to assess damage and contain the oil spread, which made issuing premature public announcements impractical to avoid subsequent corrections.

Comment questions timeliness of boom deployment during oil spill

While the minister acknowledged that the authorities had performed well, some scepticism arose based on the timeline disclosed by him.

One comment highlighted that it took over 7 hours for the boom contractor to arrive at the site and another 7 hours for the boom deployment to be completed, totalling almost 15 hours.

The comment questioned whether this response time is considered fast by international standards.

A netizen expressed disbelief at the Minister’s statement that it’s not feasible to place containment booms around Singapore’s entire coastline.

He argued that the booms should have been promptly deployed around the accident site by first responders to prevent the oil spill from spreading, noting that this task wouldn’t necessarily involve a 40km stretch.

Call for SOP review given oil spill impact severity

While the Minister defended the effectiveness of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in cleaning up the oil spill, some netizens emphasized the severity of the spill’s impact, suggesting that the SOPs may need review, possibly due to being outdated.

They pointed out the significant scale of the spill—400 tonnes of oil—and proposed mobilizing the Navy and Armed Forces in case of manpower shortages, instead of relying on volunteers.

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Notice they emphasize on their wonderful responses to the spill, but hardly anything about WHY the accident occurred. Dredger that hit the tanker is kaki-lan? CHT even took the unusual step to say the operator’s liability is restricted to certain amount, hinting that public have to foot part or the clean-up bill. More state secrets, cannot tell public, hor?

His year-end bonus is dependent on his self-appraisal.

Chee should have learned from how the SQ management recently took immediate action and highly professional approach to handle the severe air turbulence crisis.

As a result, the incident was well managed with no or little adverse publicity.

This fiasco clearly shows that CHT has a typical civil servant mentality. First thing is to cover his own a*s first and also to ownself praise ownself responded fast and situation mitigated.

He failed miserably to take stock and appreciate the scale and severity of the emerging problem. As a result, the outcome has become overwhelming and seriously damaging to our environment.

CHT should do harikiri like his $8 heart predecessor has recommended

This is what happens when you put someone with no clue how to carry out his designated job. You pay handsome wages for them to sit and POFMA citizens but when shi+ hits the fan, they’re looking at the four walls and putting on their best Sunday outfit to cover their a55.
Too little too late. We have to vote this regime of liars out.

CHT, Moment you got alert of the oil spill by international standards for island like Singapore is alert the citizens that the spill could affect our coastline and say the authorities are working on it but we do not know the time line.

Just like Grace tells us that it might 3 months or more to clean up fully.

Instead of saying everything is under control till the spill crosses over to our neighbours shore.

PAP’s incompetence is showing, very often too.

Chee Hong Dude clearly lacks foresight and good judgement. He quickly and perfunctorily wrote off that response was fast and crisis mitigated.

Then, the sh*t starts to ‘explode’ in his face.

What’s a dirty mess!

How. The HUGE OPPORTUNITY COSTS on SG and Singaporeans is not TELLING on us bcz many if not all citizens, people leave critical thinking aside, leave it to PAP. This IS DANGEROUS. The 100s of Millions of Dollars MISUSED by incompetent pple BURNT A HUGE HOLE in State Reserves. Bcz there’s NO ACCOUNTABILITY – so where is the LSST CENT GOES to? 4. Is the PAP using this OIL SPILL to learn a LESSON at SG and SGpns expense. This IS HUGE when PAP couldn’t CARE LESS how to sue time and money properly, productively. 5. Athe end of the… Read more »

Pardon me if my slight deviation and sound cocky or somewhat. No. No. I humbly like us to see the HUGE INCOMPETENCE of PAP Administration overall linked to this oil spill handling AND the CONSEQUENCES of this self praise, self reward Blue Bird PAP. 1. It show up a MASSIVE MASSIVE DEFICIT in the PAP when they CROW and crow, BLAST and Blasted their trumpets they are the BEST worth a MILLION dollars. LJ. 2. The BEST is proven in ACTIONS, SOLUTIONS, NOT in peactimes promoting, selling SNAKE Oils, AND USING Parliament declare INNOCENCE of crimes like Ridout Scandals and… Read more »

Thus chee dong thinks he is LKY clone, tried very hard to mimick old man’s style and gestures in speaking.

Good try. Useless and hopeless miw

Shameless and despicable, … is what this Dick and the entire regime are.

That not one minister or second minister or a mayor or president or speaker or grassrooter or tray return ambassador or even the Merlion, … would drag this Dick to one side and remind him that he shouldn’t be pushing his luck or test what little intelligence there is amongst the public, … by persisting with his story telling !!!

One knows it’s bad and off the chart, … when even Pinocchio and the Wicked Witch are protesting and complaining !!!, … without a permit !!!

If bastards is not suitable description to use to portray all these PAP Millionaire Idiots, what else is the best description for them?