Photo by Rob O’Brien/Flickr
Dear reader, if you follow me on Facebook you might find the below repetitive. This is mostly for the benefit of those who don’t.
It’s been a busy month, as many of us have felt the need to speak up about the horrible COVID-19 crisis at Singapore’s migrant worker dormitories—what I have called “independent Singapore’s biggest ever humanitarian crisis”, a phrase that has been picked up. Good.
There has also been a lot associated racism and xenophobia.
Writing has been especially taxing because assorted censors have sprung up all around society, seeking to shut us up. My posts below, some satire, touch on these aspects.
Thankfully there has also been a lot of support from readers. Much appreciated!
On April 9th I published a commentary in New Naratif about the migrant worker crisis. First few paragraphs here:
Singapore has rightly won plaudits for its pandemic response thus far. Yet the recent emergence of clusters of infections at four foreign-worker dormitories shows that complacency is creeping in. What can we learn from this episode?
Consider first the warnings that were ignored. On 23 March, in a letter to The Straits Times’ Forum page (“Employers’ practices leave foreign workers vulnerable to infection”), Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2), a Singaporean NGO focused on low-wage migrant workers, called on the government to provide better accommodation for workers and crack down on errant employers. These are pleas that TWC2 and others have made for years, but with added urgency amid the Coronavirus pandemic.
Coincidentally, the very next day, the Singapore government announced that it would begin to house returnees from the UK and the US at hotels, including five-star luxury ones on Sentosa, for their mandatory fourteen-day isolation. After some initial disgruntlement, it appears like most returnees adjusted to their new routine, finding solace in that beloved Singaporean pastime: one-upping other countries to feel good about ourselves. Nowhere else in the world, so it goes, would potential vectors be isolated in such decadence, able to enjoy biryani, bubble tea, care packages from loved ones and fresh laundry dangling from the doorknob.
Click to continue reading on New Naratif
On April 10th I published a rebuttal to all those who were seeking to get “critics” to shut up in this time of crisis.
Stop all complaining and criticising, Singaporeans. It is time to get behind our government. Politicians are already working so hard—what more you want? “Do not demoralise them [her team] with finger-pointing,” says Jo Teo.
Well isn’t that bloody convenient?
When things were going well, your party and its sycophants gleefully dissed others. Your provocateur in chief, “Our Beng”, filled an evening with his inane jokes, targeting Hong Kong and all the idiot Singaporeans around.
(Hey, Beng. Have you seen the latest figures? Carrie Lam has you in her pocket.)
It would be one thing if such mindless “Don’t complain” waffle was spewed by PAP fanatics. But over the past week I’ve seen it all over the internet, from the unlikeliest voices, people somehow transformed into PAP goons by patriotism’s worst instincts.
I think many in this group mean well, in a Singapore semangat, gotong-royong kind of way #SGunited
Sadly your desire to mute criticism is misguided, foolish, and even dangerous. We need the “critics” in civil society to help us mind gaps, even more so now.
Of course Jo Teo wants citizens to look away. Continue reading