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Why is MP giving out face masks at hawker centre during circuit breaker period?

Many see it as an unnecessary visit and a violation of the restrictions

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Singapore – There is some unhappiness among members of the public over People’s Action Party (PAP) Member of Parliament Dr Chia Shi-Lu going to a hawker centre to distribute face masks in the midst of the circuit breaker measures in the country.

News about his trip to a hawker centre on Sunday (April 12) began circulating on social media, based on a report in zaobao.com.sg the same day.

The event was confirmed by Dr Chia himself in Facebook post. “Made a quick trip to Alexandra Village this morning to distribute some reusable masks to the hawkers there, and also to see how they were holding up towards the end of our first circuit breaker week.”

Made a quick trip to Alexandra Village this morning to distribute some reusable masks to the hawkers there, and also to…

Posted by Chia Shi-Lu 谢世儒 on Sunday, April 12, 2020

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Singapore entered the circuit breaker period last Tuesday (April 7) following an increase in the number of Covid-19 cases. People are urged to stay indoors as much as possible and to only go out for essential activities.

A few days later, restrictions were tightened to ensure public compliance. Singapore’s beaches, certain areas within parks and nature reserves, entertainment venues and non-essential shops are temporarily closed. The wearing of masks has also been made compulsory on public transport and in supermarkets, malls, convenience stores and pharmacies.

Violators would be fined S$300 while repeat offenders would be given higher fines or prosecution in court for egregious cases, according to Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli.

The stringent measures, with which the public must comply, were the reason behind the backlash towards Dr Chia’s post. Many saw it as an unnecessary visit, a violation of the circuit breaker restrictions and an opportunity for Dr Chia to get some campaigning done.

One person who commented on the post had this to say:

“Dr Chia, as a Tanjong Pagar constituent (for the past 11 years) I am concerned by this post. Given your position as my MP and as a member of the medical fraternity, I do hope you will take this feedback in the spirit in which it is given.

“I certainly applaud the intent behind this visit to support our hawker. However, given that the current circuit breaker measures require everyone to stay at home unless absolutely necessary, I am deeply concerned that this post sends the wrong message: either (a) that unnecessary outings are valid if one has noble intentions, or (b) that circuit breaker rules do not apply to individuals such as yourself.”

Photo: FB screengrab

One person called for action to be taken against Dr Chia.

Photo: FB screengrab

Others saw what he did as “campaigning during the circuit breaker” period and wondered if he, too, would be fined for violating the law.

Photo: FB screengrab

Photo: FB screengrab

Photo: FB screengrab

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