Forum: Build national culture of readiness for crises

Residents collecting their masks at Toa Payoh Central Zone 4 RC, on Feb 1, 2020.
Residents collecting their masks at Toa Payoh Central Zone 4 RC, on Feb 1, 2020.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

The recent cases of panic buying are a continued reminder for us to build a culture of national readiness to meet all future crises.

First, it was the desperate queueing to buy surgical masks, which led to immediate shortages at all retail outlets. Second, it was the frenzied emptying of shelves at all major supermarkets. These incidents created an immediate panic islandwide.

The Government should educate the public to ensure that we are always ready and never caught by surprise, like with the present situation. We must be aware that biological crises are ongoing, and new forms develop every day.

Giving out free masks to the public helped reduce the panic buying. Likewise the limiting of purchases at FairPrice.

The Government can consider the approach of ensuring that every citizen gets to purchase a package of daily necessities at a fixed price in the event of a crisis. This is to give every citizen peace of mind, and to let them know that no one will be deprived of daily necessities at all times as there is always stock reserved for citizens. And the needy and the vulnerable will not fear not having access to daily necessities.

Let us stand united and care for one another.

Lim Tong Wah

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 13, 2020, with the headline 'Build national culture of readiness for crises'. Subscribe