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While the government stayed focused during the initial stages of the outbreak and managed to bring the spread under control, it became complacent and took its eye off the ball. This has resulted in a second wave of infections.
For example, in early March, when infections started to dwindle, PM Lee Hsien Loong urged Singaporeans to visit local attractions and “go about our lives as normally as possible” even though the virus outbreak was far from being contained.
Many Singaporeans seemed to have taken his advice and started flocking back to shops and eateries.
Days later, the cases started to surge with the numbers hitting record highs in the last week or so, with a significant proportion of them unlinked locally transmitted cases or linked extensions of existing transmission chains which have not been closed.
Also, despite the Malaysian government’s decision to close its borders and impose a lockdown, the PAP allowed Malaysian workers to come into Singapore and work without quarantine. The PAP even provided them financial support to continue to work here.
There are 300,000 Malaysians working in Singapore. How many of them are infected and living and working among Singaporeans? How many of the latest infections were from these workers?
The PAP may say that our factories, offices and services which are heavily dependent on these workers need to continue to operate. But which is more important – making money or protecting our health?
The PAP’s laxity and delayed reaction to heightened risks have also led to an Indonesian who was already infected with the virus to enter Singapore to seek treatment. This individual has unfortunately passed away but it is reported that he has infected a 62-year old Singaporean.
Foreigners from other countries with work passes continue to be allowed into the country. It was only on 23 March that restrictions were tightened to ban short-term visitors. By then, many of these foreigners have been confirmed with the Covid-19 infection in Singapore.
The tightening of rules regarding public gatherings announced on Wednesday also seem to be a more reactive than proactive measure.
For example, tuition centres are closed down but schools remain open. Workplaces are also ordered to practice social distancing and a 10-person limit on gatherings imposed, but MRT trains are packed with people travelling to work every day.
These inconsistencies are causing confusion and uncertainty among the public, making it even more difficult for the country to get a firm grip on the crisis.
(Despite this, the SDP calls on the public to cooperate and comply with the most current rules in order to help overcome the escalated spread of the disease. In particular, the public needs to ensure that they seek medical attention if unwell and practice good personal hygiene.)
The PAP has clearly dropped the ball which has contributed to a second wave of infections. With ongoing linked local transmissions, this second wave will be many times larger than the first.
The PAP started to prematurely run its victory lap when it should have stayed focused on the problem.
The government was so cocky that it released the election boundaries report and signalled that it would call for elections in the midst of the outbreak, opportunistically capitalising on the public’s goodwill and fear of change during a crisis.
A mandate obtained in such circumstances is clearly tainted and cannot be used as justification to continue its failed economic and social policies which have been hurting Singapore before Covid came along and will continue after the pandemic passes.
We hope that the PAP has learnt its lesson and will not drop the ball a second time by calling for the GE before the Covid-19 pandemic is well and truly over.
The dangers to the public are too great and the distraction from the efforts to control the virus too risky. Singaporeans should not have to pay such a heavy price for the PAP’s selfish goals.