by Jing Mei
Dear Prime Minister,
We thank the government for taking a huge step to ban travellers from Hubei and meticulously keep track of the sick and affected people.
The epidemic has spread exponentially in China, and the Chinese government, upon realising the urgency of the matter – though late – has taken extraordinary steps like isolating the cities and even provinces in order to contain the disease.
We should learn from their mistakes; but frankly, we are already late as 10,000 Hubei potential virus carriers have been permitted to wander about in our little island, spreading the virus everywhere. Though they are now barred, we simply cannot afford to have the rest of Chinese nationals – who are also potential virus carriers – to be descending on us to help the Hubei people to continue spreading the virus.
We should not hesitate anymore to take swift actions to prevent the disease from overwhelming our nation, our healthcare system, and whatever little resources that we have. We can put in our best efforts to clean up, track, and quarantine all the present contamination caused by the Hubei people; but if the rest of the Chinese nationals are allowed to keep coming in, all our efforts to contain or wipe out the spread will come to naught. There are no other ways to go about preventing the spread of the virus except to substantially limit the entry of the coronavirus by temporarily barring the Chinese nationals who are virus carrier suspects in order to protect our country, fellow Singaporeans, our systems, and our precious limited resources.
If our government sticks to its stand and let the spread of the virus balloon (unlike China who took the initiative to lock itself down and won the praise of the world), our neighbours will definitely demand Singapore to lockdown (tantamount to a slap on our face). The rest of the world would then avoid us like a plague. This would have far-reaching repercussion and consequences not only to our economy but also our political standing and reputation as an efficient and quick-thinking government.
There is nothing xenophobic about barring people with the disease coming to our shore to make us sick or even cause death, and utilise our facilities that should be reserved for our people first – just like we devise all ways and means to stop terrorists coming in with weapons to attack our people and facilities. We sympathise and empathise with the Chinese, especially with those who are taken ill. Our hearts cry out to families in China whose loved ones have succumbed to the virus. But most of all, our hearts fear for the safety and well-being of our loved ones and fellow citizens. We don’t want to walk around in our home country with the fear of death hanging over our heads.
Our first PM had taught us well and I have always quoted him to inculcate the good values in this Confucian teaching : 修身, 齐家, 治国, 平天下 (cultivate yourself, regulate your family, manage the nation in order to bring peace to the world). We look to the government to take care of us, look after our welfare, and protect our country so that we may be strong to help others.
We are not the first country to lock out the Chinese nationals. No one can fault you for taking care of our people and protecting your citizens when you bar the virus carriers from coming in – not even the Chinese government. You are helping the world to stop the spread. The Chinese government would definitely understand because currently they are also desperately taking care of their own people and the world by locking down themselves.
And I, as a parent, grandparent, eldest of the family (both parents/parents in law have passed on), friend, and fellow Singaporean appeal to you and your ministers to seriously look into the barring of Chinese nationals from entering Singapore temporarily until such time when it is safe to receive them again.