On Facebook today (28 February), People’s Voices party leader Lim Tean slammed Education Minister Ong Ye Kung for not closing schools amid the Covid-19 outbreak following news that a 12-year-old schoolboy from Raffles Institution has been tested positive for the virus.
In a scathing four-and-a-half-minute video, Mr Lim said that Mr Ong has refused to act in spite of overwhelming evidence, describing it as a “very bad judgement” that has put the health and safety of young Singaporeans at risk.
Mr Lim asserted that the two most important tasks of any government is the defence of the country and to ensure the health and safety of its citizens. In lieu of that, Mr Lim highlighted that his party has been demanding for weeks now that schools be closed due to the danger of the deadly coronavirus spreading to school children.
Noting that it was “inevitable” a school student would become infected, he went on to list several cases of the virus in and around school settings including a teacher at Victoria Junior College testing positive for the virus as well as a student at the Singapore Institute of Technology.
Additionally, two pre-schoolers at St James Kindergarten’s Gilstead campus were placed under quarantine because they have come in contact with a relative who was diagnosed with the infection. Also, an elderly citizen who had picked his grandchildren up from prep school was later diagnosed with the virus.
Mr Lim went on, “So you have a string of cases to suggest that if you do not close schools this would eventually happen.”
He then talked about Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe’s announcement that Japan would be closing its schools to mitigate the spread of the virus. Mr Abe had said that schools present a high risk of infection as students and teachers are in close contact every day for hours at a time.
Other countries that have resorted to shutting down schools as a protective measure against the virus include Hong Kong and Vietnam.
Mr Lim asked, “Now do we think that countries like Hong Kong, Vietnam, Japan who have all decided to close schools, that they are stupid? That they are all doing this just for show?”
“Of course not,” he declared.
The party leader went on to criticize Mr Ong’s refusal to shutter schools and the ruling People’s Action Party’s handling of this crisis in general, noting that they are “not proactive at all” and haven’t stayed “ahead of the curve” but are merely “reacting”.
Mr Lim then asked, “Now how many infections amongst our school children have to occur before Mr Ong Ye Kung decides to close schools? Or maybe even after 100 he will decide not to close schools. Is that accountability?”
Mr Lim slammed the government of today as having “very little accountability”, noting that no ministers will take accountability by stepping down even when there’s a big foul-up.
The video ended with Mr Lim calling for Mr Ong to consider his position as Education minister, saying “I am asking Mr Ong Ye Kung to consider his position because he has made a very bad judgement that has put in danger the health and safety of our young.”