PSP’s Kala Manickam highlights “lack of coordinated service” by Gov’t in quarantine process when repatriating her mother

Progress Singapore Party’s (PSP) member Kala Manickam took to Facebook on Wednesday (19 August) to share the “arduous painful journey” that she went through trying to repatriate her 82-year-old Singaporean mother from India.

In her post, she attached an email that she sent to Health Minister Gan Kim Yong as well as the Multi-Ministry Taskforce on COVID-19, in which she detailed the different processes that she went through when trying to bring her elderly mother back to Singapore.

“I would like to share an arduous pain journey, repatriating my 82 year old Singaporean mum from India. I have emailed the feedback to Minister Gan and the COVID-19 Task Force in chronological detail the sequence of events/actions & the problems/inefficiencies/lack of initiative & care we experienced,” Ms Manickam wrote.

In the email, the PSP member said she applied for a Stay-Home Notice (SHN) on 8 August, and submitted all the necessary documentations which included details of her mother’s medical condition as written by a doctor. Some of the conditions are “infirmity, immobility, propensity to be dizzy and anxious”.

Following that, the SHN application was approved on 11 August stating that her mother needs to be quarantined, along with a caregiver.

However, on 13 August, Ms Manickam said she applied for a waiver of S$600 for caregiver’s food during the quarantine period, but the PSP member has not receive any confirmation about it yet.

“It is inexplicable why the costs involved for a Singaporean even after 31st August to comply with the rules cannot be absorbed by the government while isolation costs of droves of Work Permit & Employment Pass holders & other foreigners are being funded by tax-payers,” she asked.

If that’s not all, Ms Manickam said she asked for the location in which her mother would be quarantined on 12 August, but did not receive any reply.

However, two days later she went to the airport to pick up her mother and was told by the Immigration officer that her mother will be quarantined at home. But, the SHN officer had earlier told the PSP member that her mother will be required to be quarantined at a designated location without disclosing the name of the place.

As such, Ms Manickam said: “I was confused with 2 different information communicated by 2 different agencies”.

Ms Manickam, who was part of PSP’s team at Nee Soon GRC in GE2020, also stated that her mother took 1.5 hours to clear immigration due to “unnecessary irrelevant questions” when these information should already be in the system given that Ms Manickam had already provided the details beforehand.

“When she needed help to get into the maxicab, none of the ambassador around her offered a hand of support to get her up from the wheel chair. I, the approved caregiver, too was not allowed to move forward to assist her,” the PSP member wrote.

She added, “I was prevented from travelling with her in the MaxiCab to Orchard Mandarin and went ahead separately”.

To make it worse, Ms Manickam said that upon her mother’s arrival at Orchard Mandarin, she was informed that the hotel “rejected the application for her (mother) for facilities there”.

She then added that she personally asked the hotel staff about this and was informed that “no application” was received for her mother to stay.

“I also escalated the issue to the SHN liaison officer but the officer only replied to me on 17 August,” Ms Manickam said.

While Ms Manickam was busy sorting this confusion, she said that her mother remained in the MaxiCab for another two hours.

“The Orchard Mandarin Hotel staff exercised discretion to allow the maxi car to be parked at the lobby drive way. In addition, assisted to my mum’s urgent need to visit the toilet during the long 2 hours wait,” she said.

She continued, “My mum was distressed with the excruciating back pain and swollen legs during those 2 hours”.

Finally, her mother got to check in at the Hilton. Ms Manickam pointed out that she cannot imagine what he mother would have went through if she did not go to the airport to pick her up.

“There was no proper advice on the quarantine checkout, swab test procedure and I had to make enquires to find out what was expected of us. However the information that I got from SHN officer varied from the ICA officers who called me subsequently on 16 August. I requested to escalate the above through SHN and ICA officers but have not heard from any of the authorities.

“The whole experience leaves unanswered questions about the effectiveness and efficiency of the system, room for care & concern, empowerment & initiative of officers in the handling of people with special needs, access to critical information and co-ordination between Ministries & Departments.”

Ms Manickam ended her post by stating that the reason why she is sharing this matter on Facebook is in the “hope that these can be fixed to spare others from falling victim to the lack of coordinated services by integrated agencies involved in this Task Force.”

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