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.