No government can handle a crisis as monumental as the COVID-19 pandemic without lapses along the way.
Is the opposition entitled to call out the government for mistakes and missteps, even with the benefit of hindsight? In doing so, would it end up coming across as opportunistic and self-aggrandising?
There is always a risk but it is one the opposition has to be prepared to take.
The alternative is worse: the opposition risks being sidelined and made irrelevant, especially when the crisis could be played out for a prolonged period of time.
More importantly, the citizens would not be well served by an opposition that chooses to stay out of the fray altogether, and refrain from giving voice to people’s anxieties, misgivings and fears.
Chee Soon Juan of the Singapore Democratic Party has stepped up to the plate by accusing the People’s Action Party of taking its eye off the ball, resulting in a “massive second wave” of infections.
He is right in the sense that, if, instead of flattening the curve, cases start to rise exponentially, then serious questions need to be asked.
Chee also took umbrage with the PAP holding recent events which went against the grain of social distancing measures promulgated.
All this goes a step – a significant step – beyond what the opposition has been doing so far. Which is to cajole, urge, even plead with the government to resist calling for a general election amidst the pandemic.
Singaporeans generally have trust and confidence in the government. But as mentioned at the start, no government can handle a crisis such as this without any lapses.
The opposition has to walk a tightrope. It must serve to induce the government to do better, to augment its response and strategies. If the opposition comes across as simply trying to erode trust and undermine the government, it would fall flat on its face and fail miserably.
It is an inescapable fact that the government chose to insert politics and self-servitude into a time of crisis by signalling that a general election could be called amidst the pandemic.
All the more so, if the opposition were to take a step back, suspend all outreach activities and simply watch and wait while the crisis rages on, it will be too little, too late by the time the polls are opened.