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Lawrence Wong rejects SDP claim that Covid-19 task force could have lost focus

SDP Chairman says this could have happened after the announcement of elections

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Singapore — The People’s Action Party’s Mr on Sunday (July 7) described the Singapore Democratic Party’s comments on how the Government dealt with the outbreak as “baseless and false allegations”.

Mr Wong, the National Development Minister, co-chairs the multi-ministry task force on Covid-19 with Mr Gan Kim Yong, the Health Minister.

Referring to recent remarks by Chairman that the task force was led by politicians and that it may have lost its focus after the announcement of elections, Mr Wong said the task force has always depended on scientific evidence and the advice of medical experts in its decisions.

Dr Tambyah made the comments during a pre-General Election forum organised by the National University of Singapore Society (NUSS) on Friday (July 3). Dr Tambyah is an infectious diseases expert and he was recently elected as president of the US-based International Society of Infectious Diseases (ISID).

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Dr Paul Tambyah is an infectious disease expert. Picture: Facebook

Dr Tambyah had praised Singapore’s initial handling of the pandemic in January and February. There was a cluster of Covid-19 cases involving foreign workers at the Seletar Aerospace Heights construction site in February. This was handled very well and was cleared up.

However, when more employers wanted to send their foreign workers for testing, the Ministry of Manpower issued a statement telling them not to bring their workers for testing and that, if they did, they would lose their work permit privileges.

Mr Wong said it is not true that authorities discouraged the testing of workers against the advice of medical experts. He said that medical experts are essential in their team and they are included in all their deliberations. He added that, at every press conference organised by the task force, Associate Professor Kenneth Mak, the Ministry of Health’s Director of Medical Services, was there.

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Mr Wong said he fully respected Dr Tambyah as a leading expert in his field but “it is very disappointing that he has deliberately chosen to distort the facts, just to try and score some political points”.

“I had fully expected and I was prepared for the SDP to do this, but I had expected better of Professor Tambyah. He claims the MTF (multi-ministry task force) is distracted. But it seems that he is the one who is doing the politicking and undermining the work of everyone on the frontline.”

He said Singaporeans will ultimately “see and judge what we have done”.

Mr Wong added that the Covid-19 rates have been kept low in the community and major operations have been mounted in the foreign worker dormitories to test and clear all the workers.

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Mr Wong is in the PAP team standing in Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC. Its other members are Mr Zaqy Mohamad, Mr Alex Yam and Ms Hany Soh. Its opponents are a team from the SDP, comprising Mr Benjamin Pwee, Mr Bryan Lim, Mr Damanhuri Abas and Mr Khung Wai Yeen.

Dr Tambyah is contesting in Bukit Panjang SMC against the PAP’s Mr Liang Eng Hwa.

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