Singapore—On Saturday, February 8, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong delivered a message about how the novel coronavirus (2019nCoV), which originated in Wuhan has been spreading and has since infected over 40,000 people around the globe, with a death toll of over 900.
The government raised the alert to Dorscon orange on Friday (Feb 7) as the number of cases in the country continues to rise. The raised alert led to a spate of panic buying of food and supplies, with photos of long queues of people and empty shelves at grocery stores on Friday night.
Amid all this, the Prime Minister posted video messages on the website of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) as well as on his Facebook account in English, Chinese and Malay, to assure Singaporeans that the Ministerial Task Force is actively dealing with the outbreak and that the country has ample food supplies, and therefore there is no need for panic buying.
PM Lee’s message has been viewed and shared thousands of times, not only in Singapore, but also in the Philippines, even getting featured on Sunday in one of the country’s top media outfits, ABS-CBN, as well as shared on many Filipinos’ social media pages.
On Facebook, one netizen wrote, “Yan ang dapat parang Singapore (this is how it should be done, like in Singapore)”.
Another praised PM Lee’s leadership, writing “This is what we are missing,” hash-tagging Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s communications officers and executive secretary #andanar #panelo #badoy.
Sharing the video, one Filipino commented, “We could only wish for a leader like this. Please watch. His message is straight forward, clear and assuring that his government knows what is going on and in control.”
Yet another netizen wrote, “Some say Singapore can do this or that because it is small. But surely, all world leaders, regardless of size of country, should be able to do what SG’s Prime Minister did here, that is, speak words of instructions and comfort to his people.”
Filipinos kept sharing PM Lee’s message even on Monday morning. One wrote, “Words from the SG PM that we can apply in our country. This is how it’s done. . . simple , straightforward without the fanfare and politics … Keep calm and stay clean.”
Another wrote, “Sana ang mamamayang Pilipino ay nabibigyan rin ng ganitong pag-uulat ng mataas na pinuno ng bansa. (I wish that Filipino citizens would also be given this kind of reporting from the highest leader of the land).”
An article about PM Lee’s message was published in the online version of ABS-CBN, one of the Philippines’ top media outfits. In an opinion piece entitled “Singapore Prime Minister delivers sensible, comforting message to his people amidst nCov threat,” writer Jacs T. Sampayan called the message “a great example of graceful communication under pressure.”
One netizen commented, “I’ve never been more envious of a nation, or more heartbroken for mine. Personal feelings aside, we can also take Mr Lee’s words to heart, to calm our fears and instead take the necessary precautions. I just wish we could also take comfort in his assurances. Kailan kaya, Pilipinas? Kailan kaya? 😔(When oh when, Philippines?)” -/TISG