When priorities go wrong and the cart is put before the horse, we have to question whether it is by accident or by design.
Let’s take the latest announcement on measures to be adopted for the health and safety of voters in the upcoming general election. Why is it prioritised over the issuing of rules for campaigning during the pandemic?
Do we need the Elections Department (ELD) to keep us informed way in advance of things like temperature screening, mask wearing and hand sanitising when there is no preparation needed on the part of voters?
Instead, what’s more important has to wait – the ELD says campaigning guidelines for political parties will be released no later than the day of the writ of election.
This means that opposition parties, which have been calling for clarity, will only get a very short time, possibly a week or less, to prepare for the new COVID-19 rules of campaigning. Are they being shortchanged?
ELD comes under the direct purview of the Prime Minister’s Office, so it is hard to imagine that the head doesn’t know what the arms and legs are up to.
This muddling-up of priorities, this putting of the cart before the horse, was also seen when the electoral boundaries report was released out of the blue on March 13, fuelling the flames of election fever. This was an unnecessary distraction, coming at a time when the priority should have been on fighting the pandemic.
That same month, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong urged Singaporeans to “go about our lives as normally as possible,” to visit local attractions and try staycations. He reminded us that “the situation is under control” and stressed that unlike elsewhere “we are not locking down our city.”
How did they get it so wrong? In muddling up priorities, did they get blindsided?
Even now, they have not stopped putting the cart before the horse.
PM Lee and cabinet ministers are giving a series of national broadcasts on what life after COVID-19 would be like. But unlike countries like New Zealand which has already declared victory, we are still in the danger zone, the daily figures are alarmingly high and there is community spread.
Is the shift in priority, switching gear from COVID-19 to electioneering, for the good of the government or for the good of the people?