Singapore—Last week, Singapore toppled New Zealand from the number one spot on the Bloomberg Covid Resilience Ranking, gaining the title of “the best place to live during Covid”.
However, despite Singapore’s success in managing the pandemic, including its efficient vaccine rollout, a May 1 BBC article discussed the “deep dissonance” that exists simultaneously with the “near-normal” everyday life for many.
BBC writer Tessa Wong points out that she has the freedom to see her family any time, go out to dinner with friends, and pretty much do what she wants to do—including going to the cinema—provided she uses a mask and a contact tracing app and practises safe distancing.
But like others, Ms Wong underlines that this is not the case for everyone in Singapore, specifically the “hundreds of thousands of migrant workers who are still mostly confined to their workplaces and dormitories”.
For them, movement is much more restricted, and even the freedoms they are given—such as socialising in specific recreation centres—require permission from the firms they work for.
Such restrictions are perhaps understandable, given that over 90 per cent of the country’s cases were discovered in the cramped, and at times, unhygienic dormitories, and that an outbreak of infections among the migrant workers remains a risk.
However, activists are still calling out the segregation between them and the larger population.
BBC quotes migrant rights activist Jolovan Wham as saying, “Because the migrant workers lack political power, it somehow becomes socially acceptable that they bear the brunt of our policy failures.
“New Zealand may also be near the top of the Covid Resilience list, but it did not trample on people’s rights. It’s not just about the result, but the means of how we get there.”
However, migrant workers are not the only ones who may be left out in “in the best place to live during Covid”.
The report also highlights the precariousness of those from low-income households, many of whom have lost jobs, took pay cuts or have had to shift to the gig economy, like food delivery riders.
This lack of financial security takes a toll on individuals from these households, who suffer stress due to the lack of a security net.
According to social worker Patricia Wee, this stress can take a toll on the whole family, with cases of family violence reported to be on the rise.
Even for those who don’t suffer from financial stress face stresses of their own, life is not 100 per cent stress-free. In land-scarce Singapore, where many are used to the freedom of travel, a type of cabin fever can make people feel as though they are in a gilded cage—safe, but unable to go elsewhere.
And while these may seem to be minimal troubles amid a world suffering from the pandemic, Ms Wong writes that Singapore cannot remain cut off from the rest of the globe forever, due to the need to reopen for the sake of the economy.
“Singapore will fully rejoin the rest of the world one day – and that will then be our true test of Covid resilience,” she added.
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