Singapore — Red Dot United (RDU), a new opposition party in the country, shared its thoughts about Covid-19 on Facebook on Sunday (June 14). In particular, it reflected upon the development of the pandemic in Singapore and how the state had managed it.
The party’s Secretary-General will be Mr Ravi Philemon, 52, and its Chairman will be Ms Michelle Lee, 43.
It questioned: “To put the numbers in perspective, total cases of Covid-19 in Singapore has now risen above the 40K mark. In less than a week, we will reach half of China’s total Covid-19 cases. How did this happen?”
The RDU noted the nation’s low fatality rate and majority of cases being mild, “due to high medical care and possibly our hot climate”. However, it cautioned that the nation should not “continue to tell ourselves that we have done well or reassure ourselves that the high numbers are due to the high testing rate”. Instead, it urged Singaporeans to think about the main takeaways and lessons that the pandemic have revealed, “to do better in the future”.
The RDU compared the responses to the pandemic by Singapore and some of its neighbours.
The first issue raised by the party was the wearing of masks. It stated that the citizens of both Hong Kong and Japan had immediately worn the masks the moment the virus penetrated into their borders, without being told to do so.
In Singapore, the RDU commented, several ministers told Singaporeans that masks would provide a “false sense of security”. The party wrote that “we could have, and should have, pointed out that face masks provide some protection for those who are well in addition to preventing those who are ill from spreading a larger viral load”. It added that even if medical masks were short in supply in the earlier months, DIY cloth masks were already available and should have been utilised earlier.
Another issue that RDU pointed out was the timing of the Singapore lockdown.
It stated that if lockdown measures for schools, workplaces and closure of borders had happened before or right after the March holidays, the steep spike in numbers which occurred two weeks after the holidays would perhaps have developed much differently.
Looking to Hong Kong again, the party wrote: “Hong Kong did not impose any lockdown or circuit breaker, but closed schools for several months. They closed selected establishments such as beauty salons, massage parlours and bars, imposed social distancing, and asked restaurants to halve their seating capacity. A similarly densely populated city, Hong Kong went to zero local infections on April 19, with total cases at 1,109 and 4 deaths.”
One last issue that was written about concerned the foreign worker dormitories.
The party wrote: “It took over 30,000 foreign workers with Covid-19 for the Minister of National Development Lawrence Wong to announce on Monday that the government is finally developing a more humane set of specifications for their dormitories, after collecting hundreds of dollars every month (between $300 to $1000) for each foreign worker in Singapore.”
It then questioned: “As every employer of a domestic helper knows, that’s money that could be paid in higher salaries to the worker (who earns a basic salary of about $600 a month in the construction sector), but instead is paid to the Government each month. How much of that money has gone towards assisting the employers or the care and protection of the foreign workers?”
A call for reflection
The RDU shared what its goals for Singapore were: “It is our hope that Singaporeans realise we need to think for ourselves, speak up and not be afraid to question decisions in the making or even those which have been made.”
It concluded: “We don’t expect perfection, but we do suggest that humbleness and a willingness to do better could carry us a lot further.” /TISG