Practicing social responsibility and humanity, Singapore’s best bet in overcoming COVID-19
By: Jasmine Chin (Guest Writer)
A couple of months into the fight against COVID-19, it is a timely reminder for us to reflect on how prepared we are as a community to stand strong in the face of the novel coronavirus threat.
Closer to home, while we may be adequately prepared with the necessary medical infrastructure to support the care of those affected by the virus and to protect ourselves from it, there have been instances of unkind behaviour that has led me to question if we, as a nation, have the adequate psychological defences against such a global challenge.
When the news broke that the ready stock of surgical masks was running low in many retail stores, it was also revealed that many aspiring “entrepreneurs” were selling them at hideously inflated prices on the online marketplaces. This act of profiting by capitalising on people’s fears, and in the process, depriving those who really need these masks of them, brought to light the selfish side of our nation.
Casual racism and xenophobic sentiments have also come to the fore as this public health challenge turned racial in our cosmopolitan society. There have been reports over the last week about Singaporean landlords turning away returning Chinese tenants without providing any alternative form of housing support - an act that is not only discriminatory in nature, but also unkind on humanitarian grounds.
Although I believe that we have the responsibility of remaining vigilant to protect our loved ones, there is also a need to balance alertness with courage and kindness should an emergency occur. We cannot all be self-interested individuals, for it would not benefit the community if we were to step away from rendering support to those who need it.
It is crucial for us to arm ourselves with accurate and up-to-date information such that we can make better judgement calls. For example, understanding that the coronavirus is spread through droplets (and not airborne particles) over a long period of exposure means that it is unnecessary to hoard large stocks of masks for use in transient contact situations. Hence, we can let those feeling unwell have a chance to access the masks instead, allowing them to protect themselves from secondary infections and at the same time, reducing the spread of pathogens amongst the community.
In times of crises, it is common to see the manifestation of humanity's worst as our self-preservation instincts kick in. However, it is my sincere hope that we would not lose sight of what it means to be part of a community, and what it means to be kind towards those who need our support the most at this juncture. The maintenance of resilient community ties is how Singapore can strengthen its social defence in the fight to come against this threat to public health.
Jasmine is a Year 2 Political Science major (with a minor in Film Studies) at the National University of Singapore. She is interested in the study of comparative politics in the regions of Asia and Africa, as well as politics that can be found in visual mediums such as film and theatre. As a member of the NUS Students' Political Association Management Committee, Jasmine is also involved in the active promotion of political literacy amongst the student body.
Views expressed here are strictly those of the author(s) and not of the organization.