CEO of Temasek Holdings and prolific social media user, Ho Ching has recently uploaded a post implying that the tight knit living conditions of the migrant workers were not to blame for the coronavirus outbreak in Singapore.
In a bid to back up her claims, she said that there have been dormitories with thousands of migrant workers living in them that did not have an outbreak. She also urged people not to “jump to conclusions” that “crowded or poor living conditions” were the “cause of infection transmission” just because “we see a few pictures of some poorly run dorms or just because we have pet peeves“.
Given that Ho is the Prime Minister’s wife, it is surprising that she would be urging people not to “jump to conclusions” about COVID-19 being spread by crowded or poor living conditions when the whole world is advocating social distancing as a means to reduce the spread of the global pandemic. If close proximity is not a key reason in transmission, why has her own husband’s Government mandated safe distancing rules in public spaces? Is she contradicting the Government’s guidelines and regulations?
While she is correct to say that we do not yet know the full extent of how the virus is transmitted, it is clear that being in close proximity hastens its spread. Migrant workers living in densely populated dormitories do not have the space to safe distance which then of course makes the risk of contagion much higher! In other words, the fact that they are living out of each other’s pockets will put them so much more at risk of catching the virus – which they did! Why Ho is even appearing to argue this point is perplexing.
Secondly, virus transmission aside, criticism against how our migrant workers are housed has long been voiced – way before the deadly pandemic even started. The COVID-19 transmission merely forces the point home that the housing arrangements for our migrant workers are woefully poor!
To talk about cruise ships, submarines and air craft carriers not being “crowded poor places” in the same post also completely misses the point! No one is denying that there has been transmission in places such as luxury cruise ships but one point Ho (and others like her) has conveniently ignored is that people are largely in air planes and cruise ships by choice! How can you compare holiday makers with migrant workers who are economically exploited?
While it may be understandable for Ho to be defensive (given that a lot of criticism has been levelled at her husband’s government for its handling of the coronavirus outbreak in the migrant worker dormitories), her reasoning cannot be more tone deaf and illogical.
Thirdly, what in the world does Ho mean by “pet peeves”? A pet peeve is something that a particular person finds especially annoying. In this case, what is the pet peeves about? Is it a typo? That dormitories are densely populated is a fact. That tightly packed in spaces make social distancing that much harder is also a fact. Where is the pet peeve here?
While she is not an official member of the Government, she is the Prime Minister’s wife. Whatever she does say will be attributed to him somewhat (unwittingly or otherwise). In light of this, it does make one wonder if her posts are the result of discussions with her husband.