Singapore — At a meeting with his grassroots leaders last week, Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing talked about the previous weekend’s panic buying by Singaporeans to stock up on rice, instant noodles, hand sanitisers and even toilet rolls.
This occurred after the Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (DORSCON) level was raised from yellow to orange.
Referring to the hoarding of masks, he said: “If the surgical mask is not the solution, and no matter how many millions of masks we have, we will never have enough.”
Explaining the Government’s decision to issue 4 masks per household, he said: “If we don’t issue masks, we don’t issue surgical masks, everybody scold us. Everybody said that we don’t care. If we issue surgical masks and give everybody surgical masks, just to make them feel shiok shiok – because they say Carrie Lam wear masks right, everybody at the conference right – today you see newspaper, what is happening to Hong Kong right now?”
“They are down to less than one month supply of masks for their medical people,” he said.
Referring to the panic-buying, he asked: “Why did the run happen? You know, run on the supermarket, right? Actually ah, this one ah, I damn ashamed. You know why? Xia suay.”
“We embarrass ourselves, disgraceful, we disgrace ourselves,” Mr Chan said.
As Singapore had been stockpiling rice since 1970, he said that if one were to go to supermarkets and buy rice now, it would be new stock because “all the suckers have bought the old stock”.
Mr Chan was incredulous that Singaporeans were panic-buying not only rice and instant noodles but also toilet paper. He said they copied the behaviour of people in Hong Kong. However, the people in Hong Kong were worried about running out of toilet paper because their supplies came from China. Singapore, pointed out, got its toilet paper supply from Malaysia and Indonesia.
He said: “No paper, water also can. So why do we behave so idiotically? I cannot tahan.”
“Then the selfish idiot go and take all the alcohol swab, because got no more clean wipe right? Alcohol swab – you know, the small small one – to clean table!” he said. (These swabs are used by diabetic patients.)
As for how the behaviour of Singaporeans would affect the nation’s trade and business with other countries, he said: “If we behave badly, people think our society is like that one. We lose our brain one. And cannot be steady one. Got anybody want to do business with us or no?”
Mr Chan added that, when society starts to panic, suppliers will use that opportunity to raise prices. “Already got people trying to raise the price. Then we all behave like idiots, the foreign supplier lagi raise their price.”
“Some of us, just a small group behaving like idiots will kill all of us. It will kill our current price negotiation strategy, it will kill our future business opportunity,” he added.
The minister went on to say, “Every country can behave like idiots, Singaporeans must not behave like idiots. Then we behave properly, then we show the world how different we can be. Then people will have confidence.”
Mr Chan then warned: “If we continue to behave like that, the virus won’t kill us. Our own behaviour will kill ourselves. Correct or not? That’s exactly what is happening.” /TISG