Asia PSP webinar told: PAP's handling of Covid-19 has "massive room for improvement"

PSP webinar told: PAP’s handling of Covid-19 has “massive room for improvement”

Party member Brad Bowyer praises how New Zealand and Taiwan handled crisis

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In the third MeetPSP webinar on Thursday (June 11), a question was posed to one of the Progress Singapore Party panellists, Mr Brad Bowyer, on what he thought of the People’s Action Party’s performance in the isolation, containment and management of the Covid-19 pandemic in Singapore, and whether there was room for improvement.

He responded that there was “massive room for improvement”.

Mr Bowyer cited the example of New Zealand, which had fewer than 100 cases and it immediately locked down. It had to lock down for only 7 weeks. There had been no cases for two weeks and it was now reopening its economy.

He also mentioned Taiwan. The World Health Organisation had said at that time not to stop travel to China. Taiwan was “smart enough not to just listen to them” and stopped flights from China. It then initiated a whole load of measures which actually meant that it never really locked down. It has had no more cases.

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Mr Bowyer said those countries were so successful for three reasons:

  1. In their task forces, they had domain expertise on communicable diseases.
  2. They also had hard unadulterated facts. They did not just take WHO’s word.
  3. They had a clear focus on public health and “nothing else”.

Whereas in Singapore, according to Mr Bowyer, within the task force created to handle the Covid-19 pandemic, out of the 10 ministers, there is no domain expertise. The Minister of Health is an electrical engineer. He asked: “Where is the medical domain knowledge to work out how to deal with this emergency?”

He also questioned the PAP’s priorities. Singapore did not stop flights from China as “we were concerned about China’s feelings” and that, because of a possible General Election, the PAP wanted Singapore to look as though “not much was wrong”. He pointed out  that, due to the hundreds of Singaporeans travelling in March, the spike in cases started after that.

Similarly, on the point of economic damage, he said New Zealand and Taiwan only spent 5% of their GDP to handle the Covid-19 pandemic. The export economy in Taiwan had, in fact, increased.

Singapore, on the other hand, had used nearly 19% of its GDP, accounting to about nearly $100 billion but the economy was continuing to crash.

Hence, he said, the main three ways that Singapore did not handle the pandemic well was because: There was no domain medical expertise in the task force, Singapore was not dealing with the correct facts and that there was no clear focus on public health and on public health alone.

Mr Bowyer said his overall rating of the PAP’s role was that it was “not handled very well at all and we really need to hold them to account for it”. /TISG

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