SINGAPORE — A Singaporean has published a post on Facebook praising Thailand’s “preventive” response to the Covid-19 outbreak, stating that he has “never felt more safe” in Bangkok and calling the Thai government and its people “so much more well prepared and educated than my own country”.
The long and impassioned message was published on Monday (Feb 17) on the Concerned Citizens Band Together for a Better Singapore group on Facebook. The post, which has been shared over 1,000 times and garnered more than 400 comments and 700 reactions, sparked heated debate and drew agreement as well as flak from Singaporeans.
Beginning with an apology for being “long-winded”, the man said he was surprised at “how so many Singaporeans are blinded and misinformed … about how it is safer to remain in Singapore than to travel overseas, in particular, Bangkok, Thailand during this Covid-19 epidemic”.
“I’m currently in Bangkok and I can confidently tell you that I have never felt more safe. The government of Thailand and its people seem so much more well prepared and educated than my own country,” wrote the Singaporean.
Preventive action vs corrective action
He stated that he has always been a “firm believer” of preventive action rather than corrective action. While acknowledging that Singapore has “the best healthcare facilities in the region” and has been lauded by many for protocols it has put in place during the Covid-19 outbreak, the writer emphasised that there is a serious lack of preventive measures in his home country.
“If you have GOOD preventive plans, you do not need to worry too much about your corrective plans. Am I right?” he asked.
He praised the evidence of preventive action in Bangkok, detailing the presence of hand sanitisers and masks “at every corner, every toilet entrance, every counter of the immigration”.
In the Thai capital of Bangkok, “at EVERY entrance of a mall, hotel or any place where there are large congregation of people, there is a temperature checkpoint with hand sanitisers easily available”, he said. He remarked that higher-end establishments and malls have even designated a member of staff to help dispense the sanitisers so that members of the public do not even need to touch anything.
But Thailand’s preventive measures do not stop there. The Singaporean noted that on the outskirts of the country, the response is “even more amazing”.
On a visit to Kanchanaburi for the Death Railway experience, the writer said the station master and his assistant handed out free face masks and dispensed hand sanitisers to every passenger.
The man compared it to the situation in Singapore, where citizens have to “buy face masks at almost S$1/piece and we had to use it sparingly or not at all”.
“But in our own country? We have to resort to buying ‘black market’ sanitisers from Carousell or ‘stealing’ from the Boeing airshow counter. Ask yourself why? Is it really due to selfish hoarders?” he wrote, referencing the fact that many stores have sold out of medical supplies and basics like toiletries and food, as people have taken to hoarding amidst the outbreak.
He pointed out that the Singapore Government has told the public that only those who are sick and of high-risk (such as the elderly or obese) should don masks. The Government has also said that observing proper hygiene, such as washing hands thoroughly and sanitising often-touched items like one’s mobile phone, is more effective at keeping the Covid-19 virus at bay.
“It’s like being propagated as an offence to wear if you are well. What is this? Why do we even need to be told when we choose to protect ourselves?” he argued.
There have recently been several instances of Singaporean parents complaining that schools have disallowed their children from wearing masks, in line with the Government’s release that they are only for sick people.
“So what if you have the best healthcare? So what if you have the best recovery rate? So what if you give S$100 per day compensation? Why do you need all these if you can and should prevent it from even spreading in the first place,” he wrote, advocating “preventive” measures versus “reactive” ones.
The Singaporean called out his country, saying that Singapore should not act like a “shit hot nation”. He also argued that Singapore is not the best in the region, “because sadly we are definitely not”.
“Being reactive is definitely planning to fail in such [an] epidemic. And I’m worried for myself and everyone around me. Now I’m fearful of going back to SG from this safe haven,” he wrote from Suvarnabhumi Airport.
You can read his entire post here:
The post got netizens talking, and some acknowledged the writer’s points and agreed with him:
There were also many netizens who came to the defence of Singapore and the measures it has taken to fight the Covid-19 outbreak:
A few people offered friendlier views on the whole debate:
When things got heated in the comments section, the original writer commented again:
After his original post garnered so many reactions, the Singaporean tacked an addendum onto his post, emphasising that he is “neither pro pap or pro opposition” and is “not bashing our government”.
He noted that he was thankful to be from Singapore and said that the purpose of his post was dual — to air his views on preventive virus corrective measures and to assure fellow Singaporeans that travel to Bangkok should be safe.
“Yes I am thankful to be born here in Sg. It’s just that I feel there are many things that could have been done better and we should not rest on our laurels. Please don’t bring your view of politics into this. It’s just my view of handling things using preventive measures and not corrective measures. And this post is also to assure my fellow Singaporeans that are on the fence as to whether it is safe to travel to Bangkok in this case,” he wrote.
Here is the addition he wrote:
He ended his post by saying:
“I’m humbled by the many true singaporeans who understands what I’m driving at showing support by messaging me direct. To those that disagree, I plead you to re-read my post again and truly understand the purpose of my post.
“You may offer constructive arguments and you are free to look away and not agree with me. But please refrain from direct insults and hurtful comments. Such comments only reflects what kind of human being are you and show the true side of some Singaporeans.”