Whilst we are holed up comfortably in our homes, the government had already laid out plans for the worst, and most nightmarish of scenarios that can happen. And don’t think it won’t because at the rate things are going on in the world, Singapore can be hit very hard.
All over the world, countries have implemented even more extreme measures. This means food production and manufacturing are either slowing down, or stopping. Indian rice exports have already been suspended . America has also demonstrated how countries can literally snatch essential goods when their own countries are at need.
Let’s put it blunt here: the risk of food shortage exists and can happen. Panic buying makes it worse. Although the country has a strong stockpile and strong networks, if people keep buying even these defences will be weakened.
Don’t ever forget that we are a very small country that depends almost entirely on trade to literally live.
- Tension and panic turns to riot
You don’t know how humans can behave when threatened. All these rushing out to get supplies and mental tension can affect people in a strange way. Toilet paper hoarding was unpredictable, but that’s ok. What about when panic spreads and people start to riot, loot and do other unimaginable things? Would our security forces be enough to contain ourselves?
- Surrounding countries spin out of control
If we have food and medicine…but other countries do not, what can happen if external forces start to storm our island? Indonesia is already starting to show signs of cracks. Funeral rates in Jakarta have gone up 40% more than usual yet the country pretends things are at calm. When their economy completely collapses, their citizens have to go somewhere.
I don’t think there is such a thing, but I’m not surprised if the government had planned for it. Everyone is talking only about DORSCON Red, but stretch your thinking wider – what if the virus mutates and turns lethal? Then not only is it everywhere, but it causes widespread death. This will put an even larger strain on our healthcare system and who knows, maybe entire islands need to be refitted with hospital facilities.
Remember what happened in Europe during the 2008 financial crisis? Countries went bankrupt, there were bank runs in Greece and ultimately, it is the poor of the society that suffer the most. With no money to buy food, many, including children are left to starve.
Issues that they are not concerned with at the moment:
There are issues that can wait and wasting resources on doing these things now, or even in the near future should be out of the question.
- Revealing how much there is in the reserves
The opposition in Parliament is now pressing the Government to reveal how much there is in the reserves. Revealing the figure puts the country in danger. Let’s just say that in a war, you don’t tell the enemy how many bullets you have remaining. This magazine has written extensively on this, if you want to know more …click here.
- Extending financial handouts beyond the Covid-19 crisis
The leader of the opposition had asked the Finance Minister to provide continued support to people after the coronavirus pandemic subsides. He brought in a (very) old idea from 1930s America after the Great Depression – the “New Deal” was what the concept was called.
Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat had cautioned Pritam on these ideas.
What Pritam of the Worker’s Party had just done, is demonstrate how difficult it is for the government to set-aside money for this rainy day. Every now and then, the opposition digs out an old policy from the West that sounds like “a good idea” and then wants our government to implement.
Welfare, minimum wage, free public services – these are the very things that have trapped Western countries in debt and downgraded their politics into nothing more than a wrestling match. Each one takes turns to win, depending on how bored the electorate feels with the current political party.
Why is Pritam saying all this? Well actually, read beyond his words and you’ll see what the Workers Party is trying to do: take the government’s support measures and politicise it.
The leadership at the helm of Singapore has very little time for this right now. There are things happening in the world and at our doorsteps that threaten the very existence of Singapore.
If the opposition wants to help, it should start mobilising manpower the help out with the distribution of masks, sanitisers and so on. If they had the logistical ability, they should activate networks to bring in goods and supplies from abroad. If they can fine tune policy measures, or can develop ways to deal with blind spots… Then Parliament will appreciate it.
Debates on old ideas (which are already the stuff of university textbooks) should not even be given air-time in Parliament now.