Singapore – Opposition Peoples’ Voice leader Lim Tean likened Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung’s initiative to resume travel to New Zealand to an invitation to one’s home being turned down after news that New Zealand is not making any changes on resident travel restrictions.
Mr Ong announced on Friday (August 21) that the unilateral reopening of Singapore borders to Brunei and New Zealand is a “small, cautious” step to jumpstarting Changi Airport and serves as an invitation to the world that Singapore is open for business, reported straitstimes.com.
“The aviation sector, Changi Airport and Singapore Airlines do not just concern the sector itself, but are linked to the whole economy,” said Mr Ong. “So we need to really start to take steps to open up in a safe manner that can revive Changi Airport and resuscitate the aviation sector.”
Keeping in mind the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Mr Ong added that visitors from these two countries will need to take a Covid-19 test upon arrival and could only go about their itineraries if the test results are negative. Furthermore, a limit on the number of visitors would be imposed, with Brunei flying a maximum total of 500 passengers on the two flights per week and New Zealand a total of about 1,200 passengers on the four flights per week.
He noted that both Brunei and New Zealand have successfully controlled the virus outbreak thus far, with infection rates below 0.1 infections per 100,000 individuals. The low infection rates on top of safety precautions to be followed means “a very, very low risk that we can manage,” said Mr Ong.
Meanwhile, New Zealand has responded to the initiative of reopening Singapore borders to visitors, noting it will not change travel advisories to residents. We are aware of Singapore’s intention to establish selective travel programmes with a range of countries, including New Zealand. This reflects the close relationship between our two countries and the trust Singapore has in New Zealand’s response to Covid-19,” said a spokesperson for the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade on Saturday (August 22) to channelnewsasia.com.
However, residents are still advised not to travel amid the pandemic, added the spokesperson. “We will continue to review these settings in response to international developments.”
In response to the exchange, Mr Tean called it a “dreadful example” of government leaders being “unable to handle the greatest crisis in modern times and now damaging Singapore’s prestige on the world stage.”
“It is like trying to invite a person to your home but having the invitation turned down, and the invitee saying ‘no thank you,'” said Mr Tean.
Members from the online community wondered if a reciprocal agreement was reached before announcing the initiative, only to be turned down politely. Facebook user James Kok provided a neutral observation on the incident, noting New Zealand had its reasons. There were also a few things the government could learn from these correspondences, added the netizen.
This Is New Zealand’s Contemptuous Response To Ong Ye Kung’s ”Initiative”!It is like trying to invite a person to your…