Singapore’s fight against COVID-19 was lauded previously by World Health Organisation as the GOLD STANDARD but we can see now that there the gold standards were there for the political optics. Even today, the Singapore government is still looking at optics from a public relations point of view to managing this outcome.

Why is optics so important for the People’s Action Party who’s governing Singapore?

The answer is a simple one – General Elections.

When the virus first struck our shores, we were told by our PAP Politicians against better advice from a group of 4 doctors who suggested that everyone should wear masks. The group of 4 doctors suggestion came very early on in February as it was mentioned, ‘that the ratio of seven cases that are currently in the intensive-care unit out of the 47 confirmed infected cases, is not a low figure’. This was in February.

Reasons cited included:
‘Wearing a mask is not the most important thing to do to keep the coronavirus at bay’

“There will be no more surgical masks for our hospital people because [these would have been] all used up like tissue paper.”

Today, Singapore is serving a “Circuit Breaker” instead of calling it for what it should or needs to be to stop the spread of the virus, DORSCON RED.

The major difference between the two is that a Circuit Breaker pushes the responsibility of staying home to the citizens whilst a Dorscon Red imposes on its’ citizens to stay home.

The severity of the messaging is similarly different too.

With Circuit Breaker, citizens still feel nonchalant about the situation and are not taking staying home seriously and will find all means and ways to get out of the house. This is evident looking at how the government has struggled to keep citizens indoors and have resorted to more ‘tightening’ measures by imposing/threatening hefty fines and imprisonment for those who are caught flouting the rules.

The problem with these tightening measures is that it is ineffective.

And the reason why the government does not wish to escalate to Dorscon Red has not been made known but speculation is rife and one of the most obvious reasons is simply because the government needs schools to remain available as polling stations and counting centres since the government plans to run the elections during this period.

One of the other things to be worried about is how those who are affected due to COVID-19 could be exempted from voting.

“If the general election were to be held during the coronavirus outbreak, Singaporeans who are quarantined over Covid-19 will not get to vote.

That is because they will be deemed to have broken the law on infectious diseases if they leave the place where they are being isolated to go cast their vote.

They will not be penalised for not voting, which is compulsory, and will have their names restored to the electoral rolls unconditionally when the election is over.”

This is serious because the voices of those who have been affected by this virus would be silenced.

As the second densest country in the world, our government has shown how badly it has fared in managing this crisis compared to the third densest country in the world, Hong Kong, which from the very beginning imposed the harshest of measures which has successfully kept the virus under control.

I won’t blame Singaporeans for being lackadaisical at this juncture since the Singapore government, formed by a team of supposedly high-ranking civil servants, army generals as well as police officers have perhaps displayed similar attitudes when the virus first reached its shores.

Singapore still has to deal with a clusterfuck – the outbreak in workers dormitories.

I would have thought that our experience in managing SARS would have taught us a lesson, and it probably did, but perhaps, we have been smug about how well we managed it that we are taking a second beating and losing badly.

Who do I feel the most for?

Our frontliners for sure who have been battling this from Day 1. They must be burned out and in need of a tag out, but unfortunately, there’s no one there to tag them out.

Definitely hope the government will not just tighten, but put a stop to this and raise the level to DORSCON RED to send an important message to Singaporeans to stay home, and to definitely just delay the elections until this is over.

It may be unconstitutional, but this is a different time and certainly, men can make laws to make it constitutional to do so.

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