Peoples Voice (PV) chief Lim Tean on Saturday (22 Aug) said that the Government’s initiative to ease Singapore’s border controls for several countries – including New Zealand – is “very xia suay”, given that New Zealand has refused to change its travel advisory to its residents amid the ongoing pandemic.

The multi-ministry task force tackling COVID-19 stated earlier on that it will partially ease Singapore’s border restrictions from 1 September, with people allowed to travel to Brunei or New Zealand for general purposes and students studying in overseas.

It added that visitors from Brunei or New Zealand who have remained in their country in the last consecutive 14 days before travelling to Singapore will not be required to serve a Stay-Home Notice (SHN) but only undergo a COVID-19 test when they arrive at the city-state’s airport.

Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung noted that the reopening of borders to Brunei and New Zealand is a “small, cautious” step that will be able to resuscitate Changi Airport, adding that both countries have been able to control the COVID-19 outbreak with 0.1 infections per 100,000 people in their population.

“The aviation sector, Changi Airport and Singapore Airlines do not just concern the sector itself, but are linked to the whole economy,” said Mr Ong.

“So we need to really start to take steps to open up in a safe manner that can revive Changi Airport and resuscitate the aviation sector.”

New Zealand, however, refused to change its travel advisory to residents despite it is aware of Singapore’s plans to ease border controls for some countries.

“We are aware of Singapore’s intention to establish selective travel programmes with a range of countries, including New Zealand. This reflects the close relationship between our two countries and the trust Singapore has in New Zealand’s response to COVID-19,” a spokesman for the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade told Channel News Asia on Saturday.

The spokesman asserted that New Zealand will not change its travel advisory to residents amid the COVID-19 pandemic, although it “will continue to review these settings in response to international developments”.

Following that, Mr Lim called out Mr Ong in a Facebook post on Saturday saying that the Minister “has not learned about the new world order” that developed from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“New Zealand’s response is the consequence of Singapore being described as one of the greatest failures in the world as far as COVID is concerned.

“This is a dreadful example of the naivety of the so-called 4G PAP leaders. Couldn’t handle the greatest crisis in modern times and now damaging our prestige on the world stage! Very Xia Suey!” he wrote.

Mr Lim also brought up about the summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that took place in Singapore in 2018, in which the Government had spent about S$16.3 million for the historic summit.

“It reminds one of Vivian Balakrishnan’s description of Singapore’s role at the Trump-Kim summit a couple of years back, that we are there to serve tea and coffee!” the PV’s chief remarked.

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