Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong has in a recent press conference stated that the government keeps in line with advice from the World Health Organisation (WHO).
While keeping in line with an international body such as the WHO is understandable, the government’s choice of words in dispensing its advice does not seem to match that given by other countries.
For example, the rest of the world calls measures taken to shut down schools and the like “Lockdown”, the government has decided to call what is happening in Singapore “Circuit Breaker”. Are they trying to be different just for the sake of it? Most Singaporeans have access to international media and are kept up to date with what is happening in the rest of the world. Isn’t using different terminology for basically the same thing confusing?
This is NOT the time to show that we are creative! The government has deployed the police to spot check and punish people who are still going out in groups. But could it be that the people particularly the seniors, don’t really understand what “circuit breaker” — whether in English or Mandarin — really means? The term “lock down” is however very clear. The use of a term used in many other countries might send a better and stronger message.
If Wong claims that Singapore is following the WHO’s advice, why is the government coining its own unclear phrases such as “circuit breaker”?
In times of uncertainty such as these, people want clarity! Not wishy washy language.
Either we wear a mask or not. Why unclear phrases like “no longer discourage people who are well from wearing masks”? It is not as if the government has a problem with telling people what to do in other instances. Why suddenly so coy?
In trying times, people want things to be clear. It is not the time for flowery language that is subject to interpretation. For example, to monitor the spread of the virus, it would be sufficient to say “linked cases” or “unlinked cases”. It is black or white. Everyone understands.
In Singapore, we say “contact tracing pending”. How is this helpful? No point saying right? Just tell us the answer when you know? Please don’t throw in more useless information to confuse the situation.
Is the government even joined up in its approach?
And even in these perilous times, the government has introduced ways to pat itself on the back. “Situation under control but more steps to be taken”. Basically “more steps to be taken” means not under control right? Why not just say “outbreak worsens, existing measures insufficient”?
While the Singapore government has done relatively well, that is for us to say. Not for them to build in language to praise themselves.