Singapore—Education Minister Lawrence Wong took to Facebook on Monday night (Dec 14) to show that he made good on a promise from six months ago about making the vaccine available to everyone in Singapore.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced on Monday afternoon that not only was Singapore entering Phase 3 of reopening on Dec 28, but that the country would be getting the first doses of Covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech by the end of the month.
Moreover, PM Lee said that the vaccine would be free for all Singaporeans and long-term residents, although it would not be made mandatory, and that enough doses would be available for all of Singapore by the third quarter of next year.
Mr Wong, who co-chaired the multi-ministry task force assigned to deal with the issues stemming from the pandemic along with Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, has been at the forefront of Singapore’s efforts to fight Covid-19.
He wrote in his post, “Promise Made. Promise Kept.”
“9 June: I shared in my ministerial broadcast that we will secure the vaccines and make them available to all Singaporeans who need it.
14 Dec: We announce that the first batch of vaccines will be here by year-end. If all goes according to plan, we will have enough to vaccinate everyone in Singapore by Q3 next year; and the vaccines will be free.”
Mr Wong had been one of the speakers in a series of National Broadcasts by Government leaders earlier this year. As the then-National Development Minister, he said on June 9, “If and when a vaccine becomes available, we will make sure that every Singaporean who needs it gets it, and at an affordable price.”
Regarding Phase 3 of the country’s reopening, Mr Wong outlined in an earlier post the key changes that the new phase will bring, include allowing social gatherings of up to eight individuals and bigger capacity limits for spaces such as malls and other attractions.
He added, “Over the course of Phase 3 itself, we will continue to review and consider further relaxation of the measures, provided we are able to keep the infection well under control.”
Mr Wong also underlined that the battle is not yet over, and urged Singaporeans ”to remain focused and disciplined all the way to the end,” and to stay united in fighting the pandemic. “Let’s make 2021 a better, healthier, and safer year for all of us!” he added.
The minister is perceived to have done well as the co-chair, and often the more visible face of the country’s efforts against Covid-19, remaining calm and pro-active even when Singapore’s infections rose to 1,000 a day in March and April.
One exception to his usually calm demeanour was in Parliament on March 25, when he fought back tears as he made a speech.
Mr Wong could barely hold in his emotions as he endeavoured to express gratitude to those on the front lines who have staked their lives in fighting the spread of the disease.
It took him several tries to get his words out, pausing a few times, and asking his fellow MPs to give him a moment before he could finish this sentence: “Words are not sufficient to express our appreciation for the Singaporeans who are going all-out to fight the virus.”
He went on to say, “And I just want to say a big ‘Thank You’ to everyone who is doing their part.” —/TISG