Colors: Blue Color

After receiving some backlash from netizens, leader of People's Power Party (PPP), Goh Meng Seng, issued an apology to a Malay/Muslim lady pictured in one of his posts. The post showed the lady queuing up at Sheng Shiong Supermarket with about seven trolleys full of goods.


Goh used the picture as a means of conveying his thoughts on hoarding and panic-buying during the this COVID-19 pandemic. He also urged supermarkets that have not put in place any purchase quotas/limits to do so as that would benefit Singaporeans by ensuring that supplies are not overburdened and people don't go into a panic-buying frenzy.

Subsequently, Goh learned that the lady made the purchase to share with the needy, as part of the Ramadan fasting month. During Ramadan, Muslims are encouraged to do good deeds and donate to those less well off.

Goh acknowledged his error and took pains to emphasise that the post was not meant to be seen through any racist prisms at all.

However, Goh stood by his comment that the public, fuelled by COVID-19 paranoia, may misconstrue the woman's intentions. This might, in turn, lead to a panic-buying frenzy. He then reiterated his suggestion for Sheng Shiong Supermarket to follow NTUC's lead by rationing food items.

For those who want to carry out charitable acts, Goh suggested that they give out Cash Vouchers instead, or order through online platforms or suppliers to deliver directly to the needy households. Such options do not create unnecessary panic for the public.

The apology from an Opposition politician is immense. Compare that to the apologies by the ruling party. How many times have they done that? Not many.

It shows Singaporeans the kind of person that Goh is. He is forthright and direct with his words, and always hard-hitting when up against the PAP. But he appreeciated that he had made a mistake - what was perceived was not what he intended.

It is a good lesson for PPP's leader. Undeniably, Goh will grow from this episode and emerge a better politician.

Manpower Minister, Josephine Teo, has moved quickly to address questions over the allegedly poor living conditions at some of the foreign worker dormitories here. Teo acknowledged that there are a lot of improvements to be made but she asked for time to first contain the transmissions within the dormitories.

The task facing Teo is enormous. Teo herself shared that there some 200,000 workers living in about 43 dormitories here. The conditions within them can very from one dormitory to another.

After licensing was required of the dormitory providers, Teo pointed out that conditions were improved. With the introduction of the new licensing requirements, these dormitory owners had to meet sanitation and hygiene standards set by the Ministry.

She tried to pin some blame to the owners themselves, claiming that some of her enforcement officers are met with resistance when they do enforcement checks.

Teo added that some employers were concerned with the potential inpcrease in costs, if such standards are raised.

Teo is missing the point. We are not expecting luxury befitting an expensive country like ours. To be fair, even the workers themselves are realistic. What they want is sanitary and hygienic living conditions that they are able to rest in after a hard day's work.

Teo has promised to look into the matter. The question is, will she deliver?

Secretary-General of the Workers' Party (WP), Pritam Singh, lauded and supported the latest Solidarity Budget tabled by Heng Swee Keat in Parliament last afternoon.

Not only was the budget adequate to help vulnerable Singaporeans, Singh also felt that the “quantum and the time frames for the various schemes are calibrated according to the different degree of vulnerability faced by the target groups”.

However, Singh was keen for the government to not become complacent, and urged them to study the possible long-term effects of COVID-19, over and above the nine-month period that the Budget schemes will take effect and be disbursed.

Critically, Singh pointed out, the pandemic has illustrated the vulnerabity of some sectors in Singapore, primarily due to our dependency on low-wage foreign workers.

Singh opined that more can be done to ensure a higher proportion of Singaporeans are employed in these vulnerable sectors,.

This can be done by comprehensively reviewing the living wage in Singapore. They must receive fair compensation and respect for the critical work that they are doing.

Besides this, Singh also urged for an upgrade of the living-conditions of foreign workers in Singapore because “it is a stain on Singapore and Singaporeans”.

These are valid concerns raised by Singh. Indeed, COVID-19 has ruthlesslhy explosed our flaws. Having more Singaporeans employed in critical essential sectors, it provides Singapore and Singaporeans with a sense of security that can help transmit calm during periods of chaos.

The welfare of foreign workers is also in need of a review. Without them, some of our most important industries can be semi-paralysed. While the wages earned here may be more than what they earn back in thheir homelands, it should not be reason for us not to treat them well and provide them the basics of proper and sanitary living conditions.

 The government has done well but they must realise that they are not perfect.

Leader of the Progress Singapore Party (PSP), Dr Tan Cheng Bock, has made it clear to the PAP - the General Election (GE) can wait. The governments sole focus now should be to mitigate COVID-19 and not to think of how to win votes.

The government has incrementally implemented social-distancing measures as part of the overall strategy to reduce community transmission. They have also put in place safeguards to reduce the import of COVID-19 from overseas.

Calling for an election now will not make sense. It takes only one irresponsible or uninformed person to infect others. Should that scenario transpire, our healthcare system may not be able to cope with the sudden surge of patients.

Healthcare workers may become fatigued and overstretched. Mistakes may happen. This will undo all the good work that has been carried out so far.

Dr Tan said, "A later election may take place at a time when the COVID-19 situation has improved, which is a realistic hope and not a fanciful wish". In a few months or a year from now, other governments may have gotten their act together. Vaccines may have been approved for distribution and clinical use.

Can the PAP out this scenario completely? Surely not.

There is no need to hurry the elections. Many regional and federal governments around the world have postponed their elections. 

It would be irresponsibe and unwise of the PAP not to follow suit.




In Parliament, Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean dismissed a suggestion first made by Dr Tan Cheng Bock for the General Election (GE) to be held beyond the deadline of April 2021, and for a caretaker government to be appointed by the President in the interim, following the end of the deadline.

Teo explained that the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) has advised that such a delay is unconstitutional and will only be possible if a state of emergency is declared.

Unsurprisingly, while not outrightly closing of the possibility of a delayed election (to be held later in the year), Teo outlined several measures that can be taken so that the GE can be held "safely".

Among the measures mooted for the hustings is the live streaming of speeches and televised rallies.

On polling day itself, Teo elaborated, measures like an express lane for senior voters, social distancing during queuing, and hand sanitisers for voters, can also be implemented.

By taking on this topic in Parliament, Teo and his party are trying to socialise Singaporeans and get them acclimatised to the idea of having an early election.

The PAP may argue otherwise. However, they can't continue to pull the wool over an increasingly knowledgable and discerning citizenry. 

An early election will only benefit the PAP and no one else.

Why put our lives at risk now? They can't say with certainty that the situation won't get worse. On the other hand, they also can't say that the situation will not improve 6 months later.

Why take the risk?

For many years, PAP's policy of selecting paper-Generals from the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), has attracted criticisms from political-watchers and the public.

More often than not, these paper-Generals, are scholarship holders. They are perceived to be the elites in the country, from a very young age.

With its recent introductions of new candidates who may contest the elctions under its banner, it is clear that PAP has not abandoned this approach.

Former Army Colonel, Fahmi Aliman, and former Airforce Lt. General, Gan Siow Huang, were pictured with PAP heavyweights, Goh Chok Tong and Ng Eng Hen. 

Online, there has been plenty of discussions among netizens on where they will be contesting.

The question that need to be asked is if they are even worthy of contesting. Both are career civil-servants. They served in the Armed forces where the regimentation and rules organises one's behaviour. Such a regimented environment is also, arguably, more predisposed to group think.

In the real world, no one cares about their former ranks. Their mental capacity and their ability to connect will count. 

Can they perform without their ranks? Can they connect with their citizens?

PAP's persistence with these policy is perhaps symptomatic of the PAP's own inability to attract and recruit credible talent from outside of the civil service. In the longer-term, the PAP will surely be weakened, to the benefit of the opposition parties in Singapore.




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