During an online Meet-The-People session hosted by the Progress Singapore Party (PSP) last night (11 June), several panellists took part in the Facebook Live broadcast – one of them being Brad Bowyer.
Mr Bowyer, a former member of People’s Voice (PV), addressed that in his 9 years of involvement of politics in Singapore, he noticed that there were “many issues” affecting all Singaporeans.
Describing that our lives are “getting more difficult” and that the country is “going in the wrong direction”, he thought he could “help Singapore” by joining the Grassroots.
However, changes in events over the years had influenced him to join PSP as the vision, mission, and values of the Party are said to be aligned with his.
A question from the audience was directed at Mr Bowyer, asking for his opinion on PAP’s performance on isolation, containment, and the management of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“What do you think of PAP’s performance in the isolation, containment and management of the COVID-19 pandemic? Is there room for improvement?”
In short, the PSP panellist noted that there is “massive room for improvement”, adding that the Government did not manage the pandemic well.
Mr Bowyer supported his opinion by saying that a country should get its people out of danger when there is an emergency, citing New Zealand’s urgent execution of lockdown when they had less than 100 cases.
“When you’re dealing with a pandemic, they call it the ‘hammer and dance strategy’. Very quickly, you go into some kind of lockdown and then you dance your way back out of it. And then you work out what is the issue you’re dealing with, how do you keep people safe, how do you move on with your real lives.”
He went on to use Taiwan as an example when it managed to contain the virus and minimise the damage despite being right next to the epicentre of the coronavirus. He also stressed that Taiwan never really went into lockdown, and he believed that it was due to the task force having domain expertise.
Having virologists, public health experts, as well as “hard, unadulterated facts” without taking the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) words blindly, Mr Bowyer pointed out that Taiwan focused greatly on public health.
With that in mind, he mentioned that Singapore’s task force consists of ten ministers who were advised by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, adding that none of the ministers in the task force is a health expert – most notably the Health Minister himself who was a civil servant with a background in electrical engineering.
Mr Bowyer further questioned if there would be any medical knowledge coming from the task force to deal with this public health emergency, implying that the task force is incapable of managing a pandemic.
Government’s “mixed motivation” in handling COVID-19
Apart from pointing out Singapore’s flawed task force, Mr Bowyer stated that the Government followed the WHO’s guidelines “a lot”.
“There’s much evidence coming out now, that COVID-19 is a different nature of what it was told to us right at the very beginning.”
He also questioned if the Government’s strategy was meant to focus on public health, given that Singapore did not stop flights coming in from China.
“We (Singapore) didn’t stop flights from China for a long time. We were concerned about China’s feelings. We also had business concerns. So we had tens of thousands of workers from China coming back to Singapore.”
Apart from delaying the closure of Singapore’s borders, Mr Bowyer claimed that the Government was doing so as an attempt to look like nothing was wrong as they were preparing for a possible General Election (GE) around that time.
But after Singaporeans returned from travelling “all over the world” during the school holidays in March, there was a spike in COVID-19 in Singapore.
He suggested that the Government’s crisis response had a “very mixed motivation”, adding that Singapore went through a late lockdown for ten weeks, a slow walk out of the crisis, as well as a “massive” economic damage.
In regards to the nation’s economical impact, Mr Bowyer said that New Zealand only had to put in 5 per cent of its GDP and the nation is already on recovery. Similarly, Taiwan also put in about 5 per cent of its GDP and its export economy was improved despite the domestic economy being affected.
Singapore, on the other hand, spent almost 20 per cent of its GDP – which is near S$100 billion – yet the nation’s economy is “going to continue to crash”.
He went on to urge Singapore to do things “very differently” in the future if there are other diseases or pandemic, considering that the nation is “lucky” for not having to lose even more lives due to COVID-19.
To end his response to the question, Mr Bowyer concluded that the Government didn’t handle the outbreak “very well at all”, adding that the people need to hold them accountable for it.