Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and cabinet ministers are speaking on a post COVID-19 future to Singaporeans in several national broadcasts starting 7 June.
They want to focus on the future when we haven’t even come to terms with how Singapore became known as one of the greatest COVID-19 failures in the world.
How quickly and conveniently they want to move on, bypassing the COVID-19 mistakes and lapses, so that a general election could be called as early as July.
Singaporeans must not be suckered into playing into their hands. We have the right to hold the government to account and to extract an explanation and apology from the Prime Minister.
You may recall that during an election rally in 2011, PM Lee apologised profusely to the nation: “If we didn’t get it right, I am sorry but we will try and do better the next time. He followed this up minutes later with yet another apology: “Well, we’re sorry we didn’t get it exactly right, but I hope you’ll understand and bear with us because we’re trying our best to fix the problems.”
PM Lee was forced to make those apologies because during the hustings, the citizens vociferously voiced their unhappiness over high housing prices, over-crowding on public transport, lax immigration policies and the influx of foreigners.
Despite the apologies, the Peoples’ Action Party (PAP) had its worst showing at a general election since coming to power in 1965.
That was 2011. Fast forward to 2020 and we are experiencing massive COVID-19 ineptitude coming in the wake of lapse after lapse in recent times, including Hepatitis C outbreak, SingHealth data breach, HIV data leak and NS training deaths.
One would think that the mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic ought to be the mother of all wake-up calls for the government.
But not a word of apology. We have instead been given one excuse after another and to add insult to injury, the focus is being shifted from fighting a pandemic to fighting a general election.
This presents Singaporeans with a choice:
- signal to the government that all is well, COVID-19 response has been fine, all systemic failures and leadership shortcomings can be accepted, just keep doing more of the same; or
- make it known to the government in no uncertain terms that COVID-19 has been badly mishandled, along with other systemic and leadership failures in recent years, and the PAP must do better and must be held accountable
We only have to look back to 2011, when the Prime Minister made those apologies. After the PAP’s poor showing at the polls, ministerial salaries were cut, public transport was improved, HDB flat supply was ramped up and foreign influx was curtailed.
But the PAP scored a landslide victory at the polls in 2015 and look what has been happening since then.
If Singaporeans do not learn any lessons from the past, we would only have ourselves to blame.