“Mr Lee and his Ministers would do well to focus their attention on the actions of the Multi-Task Force and stop wagging their fingers at the people,” said Dr Chee Soon Juan, secretary general of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP).
In his speech, Mr Lee had cautioned Singapore to not let their guard down.
“I hope Singaporeans work with us, and not let down our guard. It is not time to relax yet. This is a marathon. Let us keep jogging and keep ourselves safe. Do not make the mistakes 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. Let us not make it happen.”
To this, Dr Chee chided the PM, saying: “The SDP will not have the government take that tone with the people.”
“Singaporeans have been exceedingly cooperative since the onset of the pandemic despite the many bungles the PAP has committed with regards to the spread of the disease,” he added.
Dr Chee said that Singaporeans still remember the moment just before the pandemic surged in Singapore when “the PAP exploited the situation and stated campaigning for elections that it wanted to call”, leading to a deterioration of the situation which triggered the Circuit Breaker.
The veteran politician noted how this move caused an economic standstill which resulted in countless businesses to close down, especially smaller ones, and Singaporeans to lose their jobs.
“As a consequence, the country had to incur nearly $100 billion to dig ourselves out of the hole,” Dr Chee pointed out, referring to the various COVID-19 response budgets which were rolled out.
Still, Dr Chee highlighted that Singaporeans continued to obey the rules and that even political parties did their part by continually urging people to cooperate with the regulations in order get through the crisis together.
“It is this cooperation that the number of cases started to reduce and eventually become negligible,” stressed Dr Chee.
“In the meantime, the lockdown and its aftermath extracted a heavy psychological, physical and financial toll on the people.”
He demanded, “What more could the people have done? How many more regulations does the government want the people to follow that they haven’t already? How much more does the PAP want Singaporeans to sacrifice?”
He went on to call out the PM for his warning to Singaporeans not to let their guard downs while the government itself “continues to allow foreigners into the country”.
He noted that warnings were raised that some imported cases of COVID-19 could leak into the community and cause a spike in new local transmissions. Unfortunately, the government “refused” to heed the warnings, same as when the virus first hit Singapore, said Dr Chee.
He then went on to say incoming Finance Minister and co-chair of the Multi Ministry Task Force on COVID-19 Lawrence Wong presented an “exaggerated strawman-type argument” when he said that it was very difficult for Singapore to permanently close its borders.
Dr Chee countered, “All Singaporeans are saying is that the government needs to be extra-cautious when it comes to letting in foreigners, especially from jurisdictions that experience high rates of Covid infection.”
“While many other governments took decisive and strong measures to close their borders when circumstances necessitated it, the PAP insisted on letting in foreigners even as the number of imported cases here rose,” he added.
Mr Wong had also said that “we’ve always taken a risk-based approach in managing our borders from the start.”
To this, Dr Chee asked: “Yes, but was the risk warranted?”
The veteran politician argued that it was obviously not, given the recent spike in cases.
He further questioned, “And why do Singaporeans always have to bear the consequences of these risks and the ministers none? Why are such risks always balanced on the people’s backs?”
Dr Chee then warned, “Singaporeans are watching closely as the nation cannot afford another surge of the disease.”
He ended the post with a warning that “the PAP will be wholly to blame if the disease triggers another unthinkable lockdown.”