In his May Day speech this year, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong urged Singaporeans to work with the Government and not to let their guard down in light of new community cases of COVID-19.
“It is not time to relax yet. This is a marathon. Let’s keep jogging. Let’s keep ourselves safe,” said PM Lee.
“Don’t make the mistake which other countries have done – celebrate too early, relax too fast, let your guard down (and) cause another wave to come. Very often worse than the first and more nasty drastic measures become necessary.
“If we have to do another lockdown like last year’s circuit breaker, it would be a major setback for our people and for our economic recovery,” he added. “Let’s not make it happen,” he added.
The tone of this speech makes it seems like it is the average Singaporeans that are causing the spread. But is that really true?
Looking at the recent numbers, it is clear that imported cases are still in the majority. So why focus on the lesser community cases when it is really the imported cases that are bringing the numbers up?
These two days are just examples of the trend of the numbers in Singapore – that the number of imported cases outweigh the number of local cases.
Let us not forget that last year that there had been no community case for 15 days till 26 November. Theoretically speaking, Singaporeans had won the battle of preventing local transmission through their efforts if we assume a positive case can only stay hidden for 14 days as what the Government is assuming now.
It is the Government that makes the rules as to who is allowed into the country, not the common folk. With that in mind, why is PM Lee implying that it is Singaporeans who have not been careful and that it is their lack of care that might bring the country to another economically devastating lockdown?
Surely, if the Government is that concerned about the effects of another lockdown, it should be reviewing its entry policies instead of pointing the fingers at average citizens who have been law-abiding?
In focusing on community cases, the Government is missing the forest for the trees. What is needed is a review of its entry policies as opposed to admonishing locals.
Or is it a deflection from a deeper issue? Has the Government issued more Permanent Residency permits than it can cope with? Given that the country cannot disallow citizens and PRs from entering the country (not that I am saying it should), it does give pause for thought on whether the Government may have dropped the ball in relation to PR numbers?
This is reminiscent of statements uttered by Co-Chair of the Multi-Agency Taskforce for COVID-19, Lawrence Wong in January this year where he also appeared to lay the blame on average Singaporeans for a surge in COVID-19 cases, when it was clear that imported case numbers were much higher than locally transmitted cases.
Looking at the data of that time, it was implied that imported cases may have affected our overall success. There is reason to believe that we are in the same situation now.
At that time, to hear Mr Wong imply blame on Singaporeans was a slap on the face. Singaporeans had endured harsh laws and economic hardship. Some had even lost loved ones. Yet, Mr Wong was laying blame on locals not taking enough care in adhering to safety measures, when he did not even look at the possible correlation between community and imported cases?
Fast forward a couple of months. clearly the lessons have not been learnt, and PM Lee is still singing from the same song sheet of “blame the average citizens”.
The math is pretty clear. Imported cases are higher than local ones. This means that the locals are taking care while the Government (who makes the rules on who is allowed in) are not taking care. But yet the locals are being blamed?
If we really wanted to deal with the problem effectively, we have to first correctly identify the cause. It is simplistic to admonish locals for not taking better care while ignoring the apparent correlation between the daily imported cases and local ones.
It was bad enough when Mr Wong did this finger-pointing exercise in January. It is even worse now that we have our PM repeating what one of his ministers has said without much further insight four months on.
PAP advises MPs to suspend physical meet-the-people sessions
In a news release on Monday (3 May), the People’s Action Party (PAP) has advised its branches to suspend all physical meet-the-people sessions (MPS).
“With the rise in the number of unlinked community cases, the People’s Action Party has advised branches to adjust their Meet-the-People Session format with phone and virtual consultations as the primary mode. This is to minimise exposure of residents and volunteers,” said the party.
“The health and safety of our residents and volunteers is paramount. These measures, though inconvenient, are a reassurance of that,” it added.