On the eve of the week that coronavirus (Covid-19) would descend on Singapore's shores, here is what was at the top of the local news: Mental health declarations for job applicants without proper justification was deemed discriminatory; Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had emphasised the importance of strong cooperation between the civil service and political leadership; and a renewed debate on immigration was under way.
Today, these seem a lifetime away. Since Singapore's first case of Covid-19 was confirmed on Jan 23, we have had to quickly adjust to a new way of living. The fight against the coronavirus has since overshadowed everything else. The Budget speech delivered on Tuesday by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat thus takes on special significance. This is not merely because of the measures announced, but also because it is a welcome symbol of continuity, order and a courageous offensive against an invisible threat.