Yesterday evening I was having a conversation with a local friend, Karann, over a pint of beer at a nearby kopitiam. We got to talking about the recent revocation of work passes here in Singapore. For those who don’t know, ninety-eight people had been investigated, fined, had their work passes revoked, and were banned from ever entering Singapore again during May 1 and June 25. This was for the simple act of drinking, eating and/or socializing either in public areas and private residences. And I figured if ninety-eight were caught, how many were not.
The law changed on June 19, and what we were doing, drinking beer together, was legal. Since that date we’ve been allowed to have social meetings (of no more than five people) though we have to keep our masks on unless we are actually drinking or eating, and we must keep 1 metre apart at all times.
Prior to then, beginning on April 7, people were not permitted to have any social contact with anyone they did not co-habitate with, including immediate family. The only exception to this was children helping elderly parents by visiting them in their home. In any other case, if you engaged in any social contact during this phase of the Covid restrictions, you were liable for a $10,000 fine and six months’ imprisonment.
We spoke about the severity of such measures and we both agreed that, given what we know about transmission of disease, these requirements were essential to protect the health of the community.
I was taken aback then when Karann told me that another friend of ours, Nigel, had asked Karann to his house back in mid-May to have a few drinks, an invitation Karann sternly refused, or so she said.
And with that I started to wonder how many others were prepared to deliberately flaunt the laws emplaced by our hosts, the Singapore Government. I have no idea of the numbers, though I suspect they are higher than I might like to think, and as I wondered I was angered.
I was and still am angry, seething might be the word, at the arrogance and holier than thou attitude that such people have. But I am open to hear their perspective, and so, if I do get the chance to talk with Nigel, I’ll take it.
But really, I’d like to meet one of the morons who broke the law in full knowledge. I can’t meet with one of the ones who got caught as they are no longer here, but I’d welcome any one of you reading this to open up a dialogue so I can understand how you became so morally disengaged that you endangered us for your own gain.
If you have the courage to make contact I’d like to ask “What makes you so special? Who do you think you are to choose to act against the laws of the country that has allowed you to live and work here and against the community norm in ways that threaten the health and perhaps the lives of those around you?”
This is not the same as spitting on the sidewalk, or chewing gum. This is a case of where you have put innocent people at risk.
But I would also like you to know, Nigel and the rest, that if you decide to engage that you should be aware of my perspective on your actions.
I say you should hang your heads in shame.
But you being ashamed would require you to have a conscience. And if you had one, you would not have behaved as you did. So to the ninety-eight who are leaving us I say “I hope you learned from this” while to those others who did not get caught I say “one day you will.”