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23 Aug 2020  (578 Views) 
Covid-19 crisis

Opening the borders - setback from NZ
Singapore wants to start opening its borders. The first step is to allow travelers from New Zealand and Brunei to come into Singapore.

It has received an unexpected rebuff from New Zealand. The NZ government probably considers Singapore to be risky and does not encourage its residents to travel to Singapore at this time.

I want to share my response.

Narrow minded people, and here I refer to the Singapore ministers, think only of one side. They are not able to see the other side.  

Now, they get the response from the other side - i.e. NZ. I hope that the ministers learn this lesson. 

How would I do it differently?

I will open Singapore's borders to all countries, except for a few that are highly infected. I will implement the "rigorous testing regime" for all entrants.

This means that we will allow entry for all our neighboring countries, especially Malaysia and Indonesia. 

For regular travelers from Malaysia, I will test them once every few months, and not every time.

These travelers may have higher infection rates compared to NZ, but their rates are similar to Singapore. 

We have many residents in Singapore moving around the place for the past many months. A large number, foreign workers as well as locals, were infected. They did not cause any serious problems - apart from the exaggerated scare in the media about "community cases".

In spite of the high infection rates, our ICU rate and death rate continued to be extremely low. 

The half hearted attempt to open the borders to NZ and Brunei has got its response. The right to be "kiasu" is not restricted to Singapore leaders. Leaders from other countries also have that right.

I know that a relaxed opening will lead to more "community cases". It will lead to more hospitalization and a few more deaths. In my judgment, it will not be alarming.

If I am wrong, it is possible to change the approach and close the borders again. In the meantime, it is okay to take the risk and see what happens.

By overreacting with safe distancing measures and border closure, we are surely killing the economy and the livelihoods of hundred of thousand people. 

Our ministers and people should also take this matter into account in the risk assessment. Being safe can bring its negative consequences as well.

My view - open the borders now to all countries, except for a few highly infected ones.

Tan Kin Lian


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