Manpower Minister Josephine Teo has been stealing the limelight for all the wrong reasons, bearing the brunt of intense criticism over the explosion of COVID-19 cases among migrant workers.
Each time she opens her mouth, she seems to incur the ire of netizens. Many have called for her resignation.
But what do we have to gain by making a scapegoat out of Josephine Teo?
The COVID-19 multi-ministry taskforce is after all co-chaired by Ministers Gan Kim Yong and Lawrence Wong – they were the ones who earned high praise from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in the early days of the pandemic. They therefore have to shoulder the blame when things take a drastic turn for the worse.
If we single out Josephine Teo as THE PROBLEM, we could be letting the rest off the hook. In reality, the entire team has failed the COVID-19 leadership test.
What is happening to Josephine bears some similarity to the plight of Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew in 2015. The Transport Ministry then was a hot potato because the SMRT was plagued with massive breakdowns and regular service disruptions.
Lui resigned one month before the 2015 general election, which the People’s Action Party (PAP) won handsomely. Lui became the fall guy. But the SMRT debacle got even worse under his successor Khaw Boon Wan who was only able to ride it out because he was much better than Lui at playing taichi and the blame game.
So what difference does it make whether Josephine goes or stays? The system stays the same.
Instead of making her a scapegoat, we should see her as the product of a system that produces a general turned Trade and Industry Minister who thinks that cotton comes from sheep, an electrical engineer turned Health Minister whose key COVID-19 contribution is coining the term “circuit breaker,” and a Prime Minister who is fond of casting doom and gloom, warning Singaporeans last night that we now live in a “more dangerous world,” and by implication are better off with the PAP.