As the Singapore Government grapples with the B.1.617.2 variant of the Coronavirus that was discovered in India, there has been some confusion in relation to the various processes within the various Government departments.
Most recently, this was exemplified in the experience by former DJ and model, Jade Rasif, which she has publicised on her personal social media. While her ability to speak out eloquently and effectively about her experience received an eventual apology from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), the steps that she had to go through and navigate was not straightforward.
This begs the question of whether or not a less savvy person would have had the same positive result?
Secondly, it begs the more concerning questions of why MOM was issuing public statements without first verifying the facts internally and whether other such “inaccurate” public statements have been issued in the past and whether there have been previous potential “inaccurate” statements that affected people less savvy than Ms Rasif without redress?
Were the MOM trying to shut the matter down with its sheer might instead of trying to uncover what really happened?
For those unaware, Ms Rasif shared on her Instagram on 16 May about her traumatising experience over her Migrant Domestic Worker’s (MDW) quarantine order. While her MDW had tested positive for COVID-19, she was released from quarantine just three days after her arrival instead of serving the full 14 days.
Because of the trust placed in the Government’s instructions, both Ms Rasif and the MDW believed everything to be fine and carried on with life as per normal, visiting various places in Singapore before being told she had to go back to stay at the quarantine centre as a result of a second positive test result.
Contrary to what one would have believed, authorities did not ask for Ms Rasif or any of her family members living with her to be quarantined or to comply with any Stay-Home Notice.
Just a day after Ms Rasif’s posts went online, MOM in a Facebook post on 17 May, dismissed Ms Rasif’s story and said that her account was inaccurate. It has now been proven by Ms Rasif that it was MOM that was inaccurate in its sweeping dismissal of her narrative.
On the same day, Ms Rasif corrected the Ministry for the inaccuracies in its post which included the dates it stated which did not match the ones printed on the movement order that was issued to her.
A day later, Ms Rasif shared that she had spoken to MOM and “presented receipts”. She noted that MOM apologised and admitted that its press release was inaccurate, and made without sufficient research after looking into the evidence she handed them. MOM has since corrected its post and publicly apologised to Ms Rasif.
While Ms Rasif has “graciously accepted” MOM’s apology, it is noteworthy that Ms Rasif had to go through a lot of trouble and effort just to get the truth out. She had to call them multiple times, record conversations, produce receipts and utilise the power of social media and her significant following to get the accurate events out.
If this had happened to someone else without Ms Rasif’s celebrity status or savvy, what would have happened? Would they just have to suffer the indignity of false accusations and potential police investigations even though it was never their fault in the first place?
At the end of the day, it is highly possible that had Ms Rasif not been the empowered woman willing to publicly fight for her rights that she is, there would be no public apology guaranteed even if it is MOM’s fault.
In separate case involving TOC’s chief editor, the Police said in 2018 that it was Info-communications and Media Development Authority (IMDA) that filed a police report pertaining to an article titled “The Take Away from Seah Kian Ping’s Facebook Post”, which lead to an investigation on to Terry Xu and Daniel de Costa. IMDA separately told local media that it made a police report because the TOC article had made serious allegations that undermine the public’s confidence in the Government’s integrity.
It was later revealed in the course of the trial in late 2020 that it was the Investigating Officer (IO) of the case — not IMDA — who filed a police report on his own accord on 8 October 2018 after the Director of Criminal Investigation Department (CID) had passed him a letter of complaint from IMDA.
When shown the copy of the police statement that claimed that IMDA had filed a police report, the IO in question, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Jonathan Au Yong Kok Kong, told the court on Friday (30 October) that while he had furnished details about the case to the Public Affairs Department, he had only seen the statement at that very moment.
In reality, the letter dated 5 October is not a police report but a letter to CID Director Deputy Commissioner Florence Chua to ask the Police to follow up on a breach of the Internet Code of Conduct by TOC due to the publication of the 4 September letter.
So what we have here is IMDA and the Singapore Police making a statement which is factually inaccurate.
These incidents which are likely not isolated cases, highlight that Government statements are not always gospel and are just as prone to errors as anyone else.
People should therefore always aim to fact check everything they read, do their own research and keep a healthy dose of skepticism when the government makes some statements.