To some people (both internationally and locally), the name Josephine Teo has become synonymous with the COVID-19 outbreak.
She was the Minister for Manpower when the coronavirus pandemic (which is still ongoing) took the migrant worker community by storm. She is also the senior Peoples’ Action Party (PAP) politician who has infamously refused to issue an apology for her team’s (mis)handling of the coronavirus outbreak because apparently, no migrant worker had asked for an apology.
Needless to say, her rationale for not apologising was not one that netizens took kindly to. Without going into details about the fallacy of that reasoning, it is a tad surprising that she is still prepared to contest in this general election at all! Not only has she been named internationally as the Minister for Manpower in charge when the coronavirus went on a rampage in the migrant worker dormitories, she was also the subject of a petition calling for her resignation. These occurrences are hardly a glowing review of her performance but yet, she feels perfectly entitled to campaign and seemingly, without a trace of irony.
It would be one thing if she had apologised. An apology would at least signify acknowledgement and with awareness, changes can hopefully be made. Her refusal to apologise and her ongoing campaign could therefore be taken as evidence of her absolute denial that she did anything wrong at all! Is this the calibre befitting a minister and a member of parliament (MP)?
As the PAP machinery tries to take down a 26 year old first time candidate from the Workers’ Party (WP), has it so much as even chastised Teo for her hubris? As the PAP relentlessly goes after a passionate equal rights and anti racism advocate, has it taken Teo to task for her refusal to apologise?
Let’s bear in mind that Teo is asking for Jalan Besar residents to vote for her without really demonstrating why they should. The COVID-19 situation turned Singapore from virus management darlings to pandemic disaster zone internationally. Our migrant workers continue to be ravaged by the disease and Teo has steadfastly clung on to her belief that it is the fault of the virus and absolutely nothing to do with her. Why should the voters vote for her?
In addressing remarks made by Lim Tean of the Peoples’ Voice party chief (who is contesting against Teo) that voters in Jalan Besar GRC should treat the election as a referendum on her, Teo has seemingly remained defiant. One would have thought that this would be an opportunity to apologise and draw a line under the sand. But no! Instead she said that the election is not about any individual and reiterated that COVID-19 was a “curveball”. In other words, not her fault.
She is running to be an MP. The PAP posters have her face on it. If it is not about her as an individual, then what is it about? If it isn’t about her as an individual then what for put her face on the poster? Is she suggesting that she should be voted in just because she is a member of the PAP?
If so, then the PAP may well be advocating a candidate that has already proven through the pandemic (mis)handling, that she is not up for the job.
She also said that “in this particular year, it is about our lives, our jobs, our future”.
If it really is about our lives and our futures, then Teo has already demonstrated that she is not up for the job. She may have messed up our lives with her mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic and her refusal to apologise does not bode well for the future.
In her handling of COVID-19, how has Teo demonstrated that she can deliver anything that will help our lives or our jobs or our future? Her refusal to apologise also means that if we vote for her, there will be no change in policies because according to her, she has done nothing wrong! So why would she change anything if she doesn’t think she has made any mistakes?
So, why should the residents of Jalan Besar vote for her?