Singapore—After it was reported that it was unlikely for Singapore to enter Phase 3 of reopening since not enough people are using the TraceTogether token or app, former NCMP Calvin Cheng said he thinks the Government may be “too soft” on the implementation of the contact tracing method.
“I think the Government has been too soft in implementing the use of Trace Together. Encouragement doesn’t work. Nudging doesn’t work,” Mr Cheng wrote in a Dec 8 Facebook post.
He also urged that there be stiff consequences for noncompliance not only in using the contact tracing method but also in getting vaccinated against Covid-19.
“Make it compulsory, and jail and cane if people do not use.
Same with vaccine. Make it compulsory when it’s out. For all residents. If foreign residents/work pass holders do not want to take it, they can leave.”
In October, the multi-ministry task force assigned to tackle matters related to the Covid-19 pandemic listed three conditions that needed to be met in order for the country to enter phase 3, which are adequate testing capabilities, safe management compliance and a take-up rate of Trace Together of 70 per cent.
The Smart Nation and Digital Government Office has said that approximately 2.9 million people have claimed the token or downloaded the app, which puts the number of adapters at 50.8 per cent, falling far short of the 70 per cent target.
Phase 3’s aim is for Singapore “to reach a steady state of permitted economic and social activities until an effective vaccine or treatment is widely available,” said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong in Parliament last month.
Mr Cheng, who is well-known for his staunchly pro-administration stance, wrote in a Facebook post, “Too many people are non-technical conspiracy theorists, who don’t trust the app. Or they are wannabe criminals who fear being tracked.”
He added that these people would prefer to wait for the token rather than the app. But the token takes time to produce, as opposed to the app, which is already available.
The former NCMP seems to hold “these residents (Singaporean and foreign),” responsible for the fact that phase 3 still cannot be implemented. “No groups of 8,” he added.
However, there’s been pushback on Mr Cheng’s post, with a notable comment coming from writer Sudhir Thomas Vadaketh.
Mr Vadaketh expressed his concerns over privacy issues, even as he acknowledged the benefit of TraceTogether’s technology.
“While the technology is great, unfortunately it operates in a political environment known for being opaque and with vindictive actors. This government (including the specific individuals in power today) has a history of spying on its citizens, spying on their personal networks, and then jailing its critics for seemingly trumped up charges (see Marxist Conspiracy),” Mr Vadaketh wrote in a lengthy comment.
He reminded Mr Cheng that “GovTech reports to the PMO” (Prime Minister’s Office), and said that the issue isn’t solely about technology, but that public trust needs to be built, although he admitted that he didn’t think this would happen “anytime soon” and agreed with Mr Cheng that requiring TraceTogether is the only way to boost its adoption.
“It’s not the technology, dude….
How to build trust among citizenry? Hold regular Commissions of Inquiry into these events after XX years, or some such regular declassifications. That will show Singaporeans that any perceived abuses of power, or possible abuses of TraceTogether personal data and social networks etc. will eventually be investigated.”
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