Singapore—Ruling People’s Action Party (PAP)’s fourth generation leaders (4G) were seen springing to action on Monday (Jan 27) in response to the issue of the quickly spreading novel coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China, and has thus far infected over 2,840 people, with a death toll of 82.
Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH) confirmed its fifth Wuhan virus case late on Monday evening even as new measures were announced that day by the 4G leadership in mitigating the effects of the disease and preventing widespread effects.
This has led political observers to say that just as the SARS virus outbreak was a test for the previous generation of leaders, 3G, including current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, addressing the problems brought about will be a test for PAP’s new generation of leaders, they told The Straits Times (ST).
In a multi-ministry media conference on Monday (Jan 27), a task force to address Wuhan-virus related issues was announced, with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Heng Swee Keat as an adviser to the team, although DPM Heng was not present at the media conference.
The task force is co-chaired by Gan Kim Yong, the Health Minister, and Lawrence Wong, the National Development Minister. Also present at the media conference were Communications and Information Minister S. Iswaran, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing and Education Minister Ong Ye Kung.
Other leaders included in the task force who spoke about how their ministries would address Wuhan virus-related issues were Masagos Zulkifli (Environment and Water Resources Minister), Ng Chee Meng (labour chief and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office), Josephine Teo (Manpower Minister), Desmond Lee (Social and Family Development Minister) and Dr Janil Puthucheary (Senior Minister of State for Transport, and Communications and Information).
ST quotes former People’s Action Party (PAP) MP Inderjit Singh as saying that the 3G leadership had done well in addressing the SARS outbreak 16 years ago, noting that the health screening tests done in Singapore’s airports were adopted in different parts of the world.
Mr Inderjit said, “How the 4G team handles the Wuhan virus crisis will be an important measure of their ability. Singaporeans are looking to them to tackle this issue to protect everyone and we want them to succeed. All Singaporeans should work with the leaders and the government so that we can come out of this crisis with minimal impact.”
For Tan Ern Ser, an Associate Professor from the National University of Singapore, addressing the Wuhan virus outbreak is more of a test of the collective leadership of the 4G, as tackling issues across ministries requires good collaboration.
”More importantly, it would be a test of collective leadership, which Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has previously pointed out would characterise the 4G leadership,” he said.
The professor added that the outbreak of the Wuhan virus could be a defining moment for 4G leaders in the same way that SARS was for the 3G leaders, the financial crisis in Asia for the 2G leaders, and building Singapore was for the first generation of the country’s leaders. -/TISG