People are UP IN ARMS over the below news:
Understandably so. Communications from the government haven’t been the clearest. We’ve already experienced different shades of orange different phases, and confusing restrictions. Regulations would change suddenly, and at one point everyone was trying to figure out who could and couldn’t dine in (pictured below)…then restrictions tightened further.
Though the headlines made me sigh, I’m unable to empathise with – and perhaps even angry at – the many opinions I saw on social media. I couldn’t figure out why, so I slept on it and have come to conclude this is due to WHAT people are unhappy about and WHY they’re unhappy.
People are accusing LW of shifting the goal post. Let’s just put it this way, there was never a goal post to begin with. Prof Elvin sums it up quite well here (albeit in a rant that I do not entirely agree with). It’s a whole thread, so you’ll have to view it on Twitter.
🚨Warning: *Rant ahead* I'm a bit curious as to why some journalists with good knowledge of how Singapore's system works are wringing their hands over (a) the perceived government flip-flopping of Singapore's COVID restrictions with lack of detailed parameters for policy shifts, pic.twitter.com/Lotv41TOSa— Elvin Ong 翁加运 (@ElvinOngPolSci) September 8, 2021
Additionally, Minister LW does make sense. If ICU numbers goes up, we will have to take concrete action. It’s logical and perfectly rational…this also hasn’t happened yet. I cannot comprehend why people would take offense in this when it’s a perfectly logical statement to make.
But perhaps the people I find most ridiculous are those who protest that the government is doing a shit job (WHAT) and that their personal freedom has been violated and spew vicious words on social media without any tact (WHY). All in the absence of a valid argument. More on that later on.
The Seemingly Valid Arguments
Let me first include some social media posts that I felt were both articulate and valid:
1) Recognising that there are 2 sides to this situation and that Singaporeans’ perception of how the government is handling it varies much more than others.
Observations about Singapore from tweeps in neighbouring countries indicate how huge the gap is in perceptions of acceptable competency. Plenty to critique here, but we must also recognise our immense privilege in coping with covid. pic.twitter.com/rysedu2HCe— Dhevarajan Devadas (@historyogi) September 7, 2021
2) Using data driven answers to support opinions while being open for discussion. The comment section warmed the cockles of my heart (haha), because It consisted of others chiming in to discuss why the data was erroneous, or why it wasn’t.
Reading the equation and the comments gave me much to think about, and assisted in my own opinion. Refreshing!
3) ST Journalist Janice Heng wrote a beautifully balanced commentary.
She elaborates on why the “lack of hard thresholds” (Heng, 2021) (i.e. no goal post, as I said) may be necessary to give the “taskforce room to manoeuvre” (Heng, 2021), and yet how it is detrimental because without numbers the end is never in sight. You can read it here: https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/opinion/how-readable-is-the-roadmap-to-endemic-covid-19
4) Another opinion article by Professor Teo Yik Ying clearly articulated the varying factors and fronts that need to be considered. A professional’s point of view is always welcomed.
Read it here: https://www.straitstimes.com/opinion/covid-19-endemic-time-for-a-frank-conversation
Overall / My Thoughts
Coming back to the first part on unjustifiable opinions – we need to be reminded that there are 2 sides to everything.
If your anger is a result of the restrictions preventing you from galivanting and having the time of your life, and your opinion consists of opening up clubs and loosening restrictions without any logical reasoning, perhaps it’s time to take a step back and re-evaluate yourself. Harbouring such inconsiderate one sided opinion will get to nowhere.
If your anger a result of the government’s ever changing narrative, or you believe that other actions should be taken based on data & weighing the pros and cons – good on you. Valid points with constructive criticism should be raised and should be encouraged.
I personally am extremely annoyed by the lack of clarity in the journey ahead. I wish to gain clarity on the direction that we’re heading towards because it feels as though we’re going in circles. Government communications have been confusing, and excessive restrictions are not sustainable in the long run – especially for those whose livelihoods have already been severely affected by them.
Yet, this is the first time we’ve been in this predicament, and I hold onto the faith that the well-meaning intentions from our leaders will eventually translate into actions that will bring us to calmer waters. I mean, do people seriously think the government doesn’t want to open the country again, when it contributes to a huge portion of Singapore’s GDP? Would remaining closed off be in their favour?
But this also requires the collective effort from us people. We’re all in this together and cannot bear grudges without playing our part. Before angst-ing about the situation, think about others. Ask doctors in public hospitals about their thoughts of people complaining about the restrictions are stupid while they’re on 3 calls a week. Consider parents who worry about their children not being vaccinated. Give a thought to those who have had loved ones pass away while people complain. If you’d rather a less emotional guide: think about the factors that will need to be considered when making a nation-wide decision. How can we / the government better navigate the present situation, what are some areas of improvement, and what can we do at the moment?
Go beyond an individualistic mindset, maybe? Our country is already at a point of great privilege.
Heng, J. (2021, September 8). How readable is the roadmap to endemic Covid-19? The Business Times. https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/opinion/how-readable-is-the-roadmap-to-endemic-covid-19
Teo, Y.K. (2021, August 13). S’pore’s Covid-19 ‘endemic’ road map: Time for a frank conversation. The Straits Times. https://www.straitstimes.com/opinion/covid-19-endemic-time-for-a-frank-conversation