Singapore schools stay open: Is my child expendable?

by Law Kim Hwee
So, by and by, Singapore now reports a COVID-19-infected young student at Palm View Primary School in Sengkang yesterday, a mere 8 days into the new school term. This, after Education minister Ong Ye Kung insisted that it’s the better decision not to close our schools.
This, after the majority of concerned parents gave honest responses to dissuade him via his FB post had all their views deleted to be magically replaced by supportive ones. (Read here and here.)

Singaporeans should have been conditioned by now with People’s Action Party (PAP) ministers sagely talking about “trade-offs” whenever tough decisions are publicly discussed. In most cases, the PAP does what the Party already has decided, never mind what the people think (according to PAP’s founding Secretary-General own words).
trade-off is a situational decision that involves diminishing or losing one quality, quantity or property of a set or design in return for gains in other aspects. In simple terms, a trade-off  is where one thing increases and another must decrease. (Wikipedia)
In Feb, Ong discussed the trade-offs for this COVID-19 situation. If we ask more deeply, we likely realise that his two given trade-offs, namely; being cooped up in school vs home and school status quo vs disruption to parents are rather lame and unsupported with actual quantitative info.
Like me, although I have no school-age children now, many concerned parents with kids must be wondering why the PAP ministers appear to act so decisively on some measures (that have as many cons vs pros as those for closing/opening schools) but so hesitant, even resistant, to heeding the calls of concerned parents to do right by them to, for goodness sake, be proactive, shut the schools!

Yes, before we lose one child to the virus.
Perhaps, like what happened with Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing, we wonder what “frank, closed-door discussion” where PAP ministers “do not mince…words when presenting hard truths and trade-offs” could be.

Let us guess.
Is it because, similar to how they use our taxpayers’ hard-earned money to pay for Stay Home Notices (SHN) accommodation and food at Sentosa Shangri-la Resort (note that those serving SHN are probably well-off travellers able to fly to USA or UK, not Ahmad, Anil or Ah Seng returning via ferry or budget air from Batam or Bangkok), PAP ministers pick and choose actions with a view to juicing up their brand image to the world at large? Walau! Where to find….only in PAP’s Singapore, fully-paid 5-star hotel and food for SHN!
Not saying all their decisions and actions are based on that motivation. But is the decision to keep our schools open and our children at risk in large groups (surely, much, much larger and in direct physical contact with others than if they e-learn at home) because ministers want to be able to boast come general election time, “We are the only country among First World nations able to continue with operating our schools – with no fatalities”?
Are we citizens so conditioned that we just trust everything they do, believing in their pure, goodness of heart with absolute zero political calculations?
Where is the leadership we so need mirrors NY Governor Cuomo who publicly said his tackling the COVID-19 crisis is dictated by “my mother is not expendable, your mother is not expendable”?
Is your child expendable – as a trade-off to burnish PAP’s global reputation managing the COVID-19 crisis?

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