Now that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said that Cabinet ministers have started wearing face masks, it is inevitable that we will see Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing donning one.
It will mark a spectacular U-turn for the plainspoken tough talking minister. What a sight to see him ditch his Superman cape for the Batman mask. It just shows that if you are prepared to mock politicians from another country, you’ve got to be prepared to have egg on your face.
From U-turns to doublespeak, there have been times when we are led to scratch our heads during this pandemic.
The question of mask-wearing has befuddled many for weeks. Before arriving at the current stance, Assoc Prof Kenneth Mak, Director of Medical Services at the Ministry of Health, advised that “wearing a mask is not the most important thing.” Which is like saying that gargling your mouth is not the most important thing.
To confound the issue, a Ministry of Health advisory stated: “Coronovirus: cleaning your phone more effective than a face mask.” Can anybody tell the correlation between the two?
A few weeks ago, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong declared that Singapore’s aim was to achieve “the impossible.” This meant slowing the spread of the coronavirus while avoiding the long-term impact of the pandemic.
A great big head-scratcher, that one. Why would anyone in their right mind want to attempt to achieve “the impossible”, especially during such a major crisis? Sounds like a pipe dream and an exercise in futility, which it has turned out to be in double quick time.
Coming under intense pressure to close schools, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung said with conviction that it couldn’t be done because “if we close schools, many will not stay home, but may run around in the community and mingle with a lot more people, exposing themselves to more risk.”
Barely days later, he announced with a straight face that it was the right time to close schools. A U-turn without the blink of an eye.
The one that has been going round and round over the past week is this thing about “circuit breaker” to stem the spread of COVID-19. It’s all over the place, many, many times a day – we hear it from the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, multiple ministers and TV newscasters, we read it in the papers daily.
Will the straight-talking Chan Chun Sing (aka Batman) explain why we die die must say circuit breaker when other countries call it lockdown?