They keep looking back and wishing for the impossible when the right thing is to do the possible: own up to mistakes and move on.
In a BBC report, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said that while safe distancing measures were taken at the foreign worker dormitories, “if we were to be able to rewind the clock, one could say that these safe distancing measures needed to go much further.”
In other words, the government came up short.
Previously, explaining the explosion of cases among migrant workers, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong had said that “unfortunately, we do not have the luxury of the benefit of hindsight.”
It’s agonising for us to see them bring up hindsight, rewinding of the clock and what not – anything except admit that mistakes were made. They could say they took the foot off the pedal or that they dropped the ball, anything is better than lame excuses.
In Taiwan, due to a fresh coronavirus outbreak on board a naval ship, President Tsai Ing-wen immediately apologised a few days ago, saying “I am the chief of staff. This is my responsibility. I would like to offer my apology to the people for the grave negligence caused by the Navy during the recent mission, thus leading to the risk of a virus outbreak to the people.”
Taiwan’s defence minister also apologised and offered to resign.
But in our country, despite the scale of the outbreak among the migrant workers, with repercussions for the wider community, no one has done the decent thing of accepting responsibility, let alone issue an apology.
When politicians fail to acknowledge the painfully obvious, they encourage public cynicism and contempt and erode trust and credibility.
In a crisis, saving face should not be the priority.
Leaders with humility and moral courage are sorely what the country needs.