The Dead Fish Handshake

Been meaning to steer away from political topics, but I just keep coming back to them.

Learnt something new today. I had no idea what a dead fish handshake was till I read about it on the internet, with Singaporeans on forum pages pointing out Singapore presidential candidate, Tony Tan’s handshake with a fish monger. I later saw a photo of it on the political website, Temasek Review, explaining that it was an insincere handshake.

But I was a bit skeptical. Thought, you could always pause at that point, when the hand is first extended and the thumb is up and capture a misleading screenshot, and perhaps a second later the handshake would be a firm one. I always want to give benefit of the doubt. But this video of a fish monger at a market reaching out to shake Tony Tan’s hand and his reaction, seems to tell me otherwise. It literally plays in to what many people have been thinking, about those in power, being out of touch. Recalls what another politician did, but in that case, washing her hands after shaking it with a fish monger. I guess it was for hygiene reasons, but it still looked really bad and something that a politician should always avoid.

Just speaking for myself, I don’t want an aloof leader, but someone who is humble and goes all out to serve. I see Chen Show Mao doing this brilliantly. I am quite sure he wins over more people by the day.

Was this on the Chinese news? Anyone saw the live version? What was your immediate reaction?


The dead fish handshake (goggled it) is also known as the limp fish. My own handshake is pretty limp and I may have done the dead fish thing many a time. But in my defense I wasn’t trying out for office at the time. I guess it’s mean to pick on someone, just from one handshake, but I just couldn’t help being fascinated by the video. It’s the unrelenting one-sided nature of the mainstream media that drives the internet discussions to be very vehement (I do get uncomfortable when it gets too vicious). I guess I can understand how it’s difficult to be cool-headed when people are just gosh darn irrate about the cost of living, blatant propaganda and the list goes on. Although of course it would be the best way to have a healthy debate – without the name calling. Maybe we’ll get there one day when there is a lot more openness.

Just wanted to add this picture of Pritam Singh (Facebook) at a market shaking hands with a fish monger, as a contrast.

Talking about handshakes and culture, my favourite handshake is the one done with two hands. To me that is the most sincere. I also like the cultural practice of accepting change or money when you make payment, with your right hand extended and your left one touching the area between your right inner elbow or wrist. That’s how we do it to be more polite and I love seeing that this cultural practice of Indian origin, is spreading in Singapore.

About bookjunkie

Blogging about life in Singapore & recently cancer too.
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2 Responses to The Dead Fish Handshake

  1. I also like the two handed handshake…I agree in the sincerity. There was a study done in Britan that said a firm handshake is a predictor of a long life!

  2. Pingback: Dr Tony Tan’s handshake with fishmonger gets netizens talking | The Online Citizen

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