As the Progress Singapore Party (PSP) conducted a Meet The People session online on Facebook Live, they asked the public to vote on the poll, asking the people if the Singaporean government handled the COVID-19 pandemic well.
According to the vote results, 43 per cent disagreed, 31 per cent somewhat disagreed, and 3 per cent of the voters agreed that the Government handled it well.
Tan Meng Wah responded to this topic by referring to an article he had written on his Facebook on 22 May. He explained that although his article wrote about COVID-19, he was actually emphasising on the governance model.
Ministerial Task Force mishandled COVID-19
The industry consultant stated that the “seed” of the COVID-19 mishandling was sowed the moment the Ministerial Task Force was formed at the beginning of the year. Since the Task Force was made up of ministers, Dr Tan believed that it had reflected the mindset of the ruling party.
He then expressed that this move was to create an opportunity for the ministers to combat the crisis in order to gain the people’s trust.
“This is an opportunity to make it a political success because of the impending GE. If they’re able to demonstrate the ministers or 4G leaders are able to tackle the crisis, then they will gain the trust of (the) people.”
Not just that, Dr Tan mentioned that the ministers had made assumptions based on what they learned during the SARS crisis. By comparing that SARS and COVID-19 are different viruses, he added that Singapore is also different now, as compared to 2003 when SARS hit.
Other than addressing that Singapore is currently more open globally and more foreigners had been coming, he noted that the population in the nation had grown significantly.
While SARS could only transmit after the symptoms were developed, COVID-19 could be transmitted while an individual is asymptomatic.
He stressed that this piece of information was already available on 14 January and that the Task Force was formed on 22 January, implying that the Task Force should have been informed about it.
Dr Tan thought that the Task Force was handling COVID-19 based on Singapore’s experience in handling SARS.
Other than the comparisons made, he also addressed how the Task Force insisted on the “no face mask” policy even after the confirmation that COVID-19 is infectious back in February. This implied that the Task Force did not take urgent action to implement the use of face masks to protect the people.
Acknowledging that the Task Force managed to “recover quickly” by introducing the fiscal policies to help SMEs and households, Dr Tan stressed that damage had already been done at that point.
The damage had led to the implementing of circuit breaker (CB), and due to the CB, a lot of SMEs were not able to survive even with the support given by the Government.
“Overall, even though the Task Force recovered very quickly by implementing the fiscal policies and the four packages to help the SMEs and households, the damage has already been done because of the decision that they made.”
“As a result, the circuit breaker was implemented. And because of the CB, a lot of livelihoods are affected. A lot of SMEs may not be able to survive, even with the physical support.”
Following his observation on the Task Force’s performance, he then went back to focusing on the governance model that he mentioned earlier, questioning if Singapore has the “best leader” in place, as well as the objectives of the 4G leaders.
Dr Tan was concerned if the intention of a 4G leader was for the best interests of Singapore as a whole, or it was just a vested interest.
“We need to really look at the governance model and ask the question whether we’re having the best leader in place…”
“What is the objective of the 4G leader? Are they working for the interests of Singapore as a whole, or are they working for the interests of specific groups of people like elites or what we call vested interest?”
He ended his response by urging Singaporeans to ask themselves these questions.