Playing catch-up is the name of the game for Singapore in the COVID-19 pandemic. We seem to be always a step behind — be it safe distancing and border closures or imposing of lockdown and wearing of face masks.
Many countries have indicated they are easing their lockdown measures from next week, including New Zealand, where primary schools and some businesses would reopen from Wednesday.
And here we are, bracing ourselves for the eye of the storm, for things to get much, much worse.
To add insult to injury, Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli said yesterday that the 28-day circuit breaker may not be enough if Singaporeans continue to flout measures put in place.
This is apparently the only country where the people’s conduct is the determining factor. In every other country, the criterion for easing lockdown is a flattening of the curve, or a falling off in new cases.
Is it their way of deflecting from the government’s handling of the crisis to the people?
There’s no hiding from the truth that we are in this dire situation because our leadership have been caught flat-footed. Asked the other day if more could have been done to prevent the explosion of cases at foreign worker dormitories, Minister Lawrence Wong said: ‘The virus is moving so quickly. If I’d know, I would have done things differently. But no one can tell the next step.”
I came across a speech that late Lee Kuan Yew gave on 10 August 1966, when he told Singaporeans in no uncertain terms: “There is a group of men sitting in little rooms, planning, thinking, analysing, watching figures, watching trends. And, all the time, we are two, three steps ahead of the problem. And the problems are becoming more and more manageable.”
That was 54 years ago.
Today, we have digressed to such a reprehensible degree that the minister tasked with handling the COVID-19 crisis has the gall to say “no one can tell the next step.”
Lee Kuan Yew would have given Lawrence Wong a kick in the rear for saying that.
No wonder we are in the situation we are in.
No wonder the finger pointing has begun. Other countries base the easing of lockdown on flattening of the curve, ours base it on the conduct of the people. Do we trust them to be the judge?