Singapore GE2020: Opposition slams PAP leaders' handling of Covid-19 pandemic

Workers' Party leaders have said that the crisis shows the need for a "constructive opposition".
Workers' Party leaders have said that the crisis shows the need for a "constructive opposition".PHOTO: ST FILE

More opposition candidates have criticised the Government's Covid-19 response so far, saying its handling of the pandemic has left much to be desired.

They pointed to issues such as the changes in policy on wearing masks and school closures, and the outbreak in foreign worker dormitories.

The charges so far have been led largely by Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chairman Paul Tambyah, an infectious diseases expert.

Among other things, he said that government directives on the wearing of masks and the testing of foreign workers were driven more by concerns over shortages and constraints rather than medical advice.

Workers' Party (WP) leaders have also said that the crisis shows the need for a "constructive opposition".

Said WP secretary-general Pritam Singh, in a message to voters last week: "Our Covid-19 experience thus far informs all Singaporeans that the decision-making processes of the fourth-generation or 4G PAP leadership leaves more to be desired. It must be checked by a constructive opposition."

Yesterday, SDP candidate James Gomez, who is standing in Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, said that the pandemic "is the first time Singaporeans are able to see up close the incompetence of the PAP in handling this crisis".

With more than 43,000 cases, Singapore has the highest number among all Asean countries, he said.

"They are inexperienced, and have made not one, not two, but a series of missteps that have caused Singapore's Covid-19 situation to go out of control.

"Yet, they have the audacity to ask Singaporeans to give them a clear mandate, discouraging you from voting for opposing candidates so they can continue business as usual. If we let them, they will pose a health danger to all of us, as they will rush to open the economy."

 
 
 
 

Peoples Voice chief Lim Tean, in his constituency political broadcast yesterday, also criticised the Government's handling of the crisis.

"When Covid-19 burst onto the scene in late January, our Government did not act with speed or decisiveness, despite the fact that they told us they had been prepared for 17 years after Sars. There was a shortage of masks, and worse still, they were telling people to go about life as normal," he said, citing mass events such as Chingay and the Singapore Airshow that went ahead.

"This Government was not protecting its citizens."

Saying that it did not have the benefit of hindsight was no excuse, said Mr Lim, who is contesting in Jalan Besar GRC.

"Great leaders make great decisions and great judgment calls, even when they don't have the full facts before them."

Progress Singapore Party candidate Ang Yong Guan, during a walkabout at Marymount last week, singled out what he called a "one-month delay" in the Government's management of the crisis, after a Bangladeshi worker was admitted for Covid-19 in early February.

"And one month went by until early March, nothing was done about the dormitory, except they went to clean up the place.

 

"That one-month delay, in my opinion, caused a lot of problems, and led us to a circuit breaker, or a lockdown. If they had dealt with that properly and promptly, we won't need to go to a lockdown," he said.

The holding of the election itself amid the pandemic has also been criticised, namely by PSP chief Tan Cheng Bock and Dr Gomez.

Said Dr Tan: "You're putting all at risk. And I'm really worried."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 06, 2020, with the headline 'Opposition slams PAP leaders' handling of Covid-19 pandemic'. Print Edition | Subscribe