SINGAPORE - Online speculation was rife that Minister of State for National Development, and Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon had released a dead fish into a pond during a visit to a fish farm on Monday.
But he has taken to Facebook to quash these rumours by explaining that the fish was indeed very much alive - it was just sedated.
In a Facebook post on Jan 19, Dr Koh wrote about his visit to local fish farm Marine Life Aquaculture where the incident happened. He also uploaded photographs of himself at the farm, one of which showed him holding the 10kg seabass.
A 15-second video clip was posted online following the visit which took place the day before. In the clip, Dr Koh is seen releasing the fish into the pond after a resounding "Huat ah!" from those around him.
But what caught the eye of netizens was the fish seemingly sinking belly up to the bottom of the pond after it was released.
Many comments poured in and Dr Koh and the fish farm owner himself took to Facebook to explain that the fish was not dead, but instead sedated with food-grade clove oil.
Sedating these big fish this way is done every month to check for individual spawning readiness, explained the farmer Mr Frank Tan in a post. The fish usually wake up within 20 to 25 minutes and the practice is the most "humane way" to handle them as it does not cause them any harm, he added.
Dr Koh posted in a comments thread: "It's anesthetized so the farmer can inspect it and it will not struggle or get hurt."
During Dr Koh's visit to several fish farms on Monday, he said that 77 coastal farms were affected by last year's algae bloom between Feb and March, causing losses amounting to millions of dollars, according to media reports. One farmer's loss reportedly hit $1.3 million.
Of the total number of farms affected, 63 received assistance from the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore.
According to The Straits Times, Dr Koh said that algae blooms could happen again, especially due to factors such as global warming and changes in water temperature.