There was a country that had a very high crime rate. The people were told not to worry, there was a good reason for it: the country had more policemen who were more efficient at catching criminals and uncovering wrongdoing.
As ridiculous as this argument may seem, this reflects the kind of reasoning some in our country are putting out on COVID-19 and we are in danger of looking and sounding ridiculous.
As the COVID-19 cases continue to pile up, hitting past the 8,000 mark, we keep hearing that it’s because our country conducts more testing.
Minister Lawrence Wong has attributed the sharp spike in cases among work permit holders and workers at dormitories to “aggressive testing”.
Ho Ching, the wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, shared on her Facebook an article from bbc.com asking, “should the world worry about Singapore’s virus surge?”
Her advice to Singaporeans was “don’t be alarmed if we see the numbers going up” as emphasis is being placed on extensive testing.
Whether Singaporeans have picked up the cues or have come to their own conclusion, it is hard to tell. But the notion that our country has more cases because of more testing is becoming more and more pervasive.
Some Singaporeans with that sense of “self-superiority” have even gone so far as to say that the low numbers in Hong Kong and Taiwan are due to inadequate testing, according to Professor Donald Low, Senior Lecturer and Professor of Practice at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.
Hong Kong reported zero new coronavirus cases yesterday. Does it mean they had zero testing?
Singaporeans are in danger of being ridiculed as Ah Q – the fictional character from novelist Lu Xun’s masterpiece, The Story of Ah Q.
Ah Q is a pathetic character known for his self-centred ignorance and his psychological “victories”. For example, when hit upon by gangsters, he comforts himself that these guys are his sons and as they hit their father, they would be condemned by the “sky”. Psychologically, he therefore secures a victory.
Today, Ah Q becomes a derogatory term to describe anyone who tries to get relief from a bad situation by inventing a groundless excuse for a psychological victory.
Unless Singaporeans want to be known as the 2020 version of Ah Q, we have to put a stop to the notion that more COVID-19 cases equal extensive testing and fewer cases equal inadequate testing.