Referring to a letter published in The Straits Times, Progress Singapore Party (PSP) politician Brad Bowyer said that he finds it “amazing” how “letters appear like clockwork” to give excuses or say that Singapore is not as bad as another country or that another country is also facing similar problems.
The letter in question, titled ‘Easy to Point Finger with Hindsight Bias (25 May)‘, seems to defend the Government’s response to the COVID-19 situation. It was written in response to an earlier commentary by former Straits Times editor Leslie Fong on 20 May, who had raised the concept of “thumos” as a possible explanation for the public unhappiness over the Government not heeding early calls to halt arrivals from high-risk countries.
“Thumos”, as described by Mr Fong in his article, is the “inner force that moves a person to speak out or act in resentment against those who brush him and his views aside because they consider him as uninformed or incapable of understanding the truths they know”.
Responding to Mr Fong’s commentary, the author of the letter, Desiree Chan, noted that she thinks there is more to the blame that the public or social media is placing on the Government than just thumos. One such factor is the decision of how to handle any given situation ultimately falls onto the shoulders of those elected, and it is up to them to consider comments from the public.
Ms Chan also cited hindsight bias, explaining that if the COVID-19 numbers had not spiked, previous complaints about imported threats “would not have been validated”.
She concluded the letter saying that countries such as Taiwan have also been suffering a resurgence of COVID-19 cases even without South Asian arrivals.
Following this, Mr Bowyer in a Facebook post on Wednesday (26 May) said that he doesn’t care what other countries are doing but rather what is happening in Singapore and whether there is accountability.
“Personally I don’t care whatever X is doing I care about what is happening here and do we have accountability, is remedial action taken when things go wrong and do we make sure better choices are made in the future…. Which sometimes necessitates changing the decision makers,” he wrote.
“You can always find someone WORSE than you if that’s what you want to do to deflect criticism and comment but until we hold ourselves up to comparison with the BEST and endeavour to deliver the BEST and make ourselves ACCOUNTABLE for our failures we will continue the downward path we are on until we truly can’t find anyone worse than us to compare to anymore.”
Mr Bowyer further stressed that if people do not collectively ask better of those who are paid millions to lead the country but instead perpetuate the practice of creating excuses for their failures, then they will have to also “get used to worse and worse results and more and more failures until the weight of those failures is unbearable”.
“Is that what we really want?” he questioned.
“Personally I feel Singaporeans deserve far better and am prepared to stand up and ask for it before we get to that sorry state.. what about you?”