Singapore—Was it just a case of much ado about nothing, after all? After receiving backlash for her caption on a Facebook post about Taiwan’s donations of surgical masks to Singapore, Ho Ching, CEO of Temasek Holdings and wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, has clarified the matter.
Madam Ho, who had posted a link from Taiwan News on Saturday (Apr 11) entitled ‘Taiwan to donate medical masks to Singapore,’ with the short and rather cryptic caption of “Errrr….,” edited her original post on Monday afternoon (Apr 13), expressing her gratitude to Taiwan and telling netizens to “stop trying to beat each other up in cyber space (sic).”
Errrr ….??????To all our friends and friends of friends in Taiwan, a huge thank you to all that you have done, and…
The Temasek CEO, however, stopped short of an outright apology, choosing instead to remind everyone that “we are in this together as one world.”
Madam Ho wrote, “To all our friends and friends of friends in Taiwan, a huge thank you to all that you have done, and please know that I’m forever grateful.”
She also said she was grateful for those who “reached out, advised, pointed the way, and tried their best to help, sometimes successfully and sometimes not,” without further explaining what she meant by this.
Madam Ho added, “And mistakes? Also forgiven, lah!” And then she wrote “Meanwhile, errrrr …..,” followed by two rows of emojis.
She pointed put that the enemy we all need to beat is “the covid” and that “the little bug doesn’t respect any of our prejudices and biases, hopes or fears.”
And what is needed is for humanity to “all pull together as one, and do what we need to do” out of respect for all those fighting in the front lines daily to keep everyone safe.
Madam Ho ended her post with a reminder to “Meanwhile, mind the gap, keep our saliva to ourselves, and keep safe.”
According to a report in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), Taiwan’s foreign ministry had issued a statement by Sunday (Apr 12), saying that its donation of masks to Singapore had been received with thanks.
And while the statement made no mention of Madam Ho or the ensuing backlash on social media to her remark, it pointed out that the bilateral policies between Taiwan and Singapore “will be based on official statements and will not be influenced by statements by individuals.”
Many netizens had commented on her post questioning Madam Ho’s original caption, with some calling her out for what they perceived was an impolite response, and others wondering why the mask donation had become politicised.
There are hints, however, that behind the furor over Madam Ho’s remarks is Singapore’s frustration that Taiwan issued a ban on exporting masks in the early days of the outbreak, which affected the exports of surgical masks to Singapore made by state-linked ST Engineering in Taiwan.
Tan Chuan-Jin, Singapore’s Speaker of Parliament, hinted as much in a now deleted tweet, SCMP says.
Global Times Singapore, a Facebook page, put up a post on April 7 entitled, “Do you know that Singapore would have way more than enough masks, if not for Taiwan?,” which touches on this as well, and which has also received renewed attention in the light of the backlash Madam Ho received. —/TISG
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