FOURTH UPDATE ON WHOLE-OF-GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO COVID-19

MP Pritam Singh

Mr Pritam Singh (Aljunied): Thank you, Mr Speaker. First, a quick response to Minister for Home Affairs on his short statement. Yesterday, the Head of the Workers’ Party media team, Mr Leon Perera, put out this Facebook post, this is 13 hours ago: “It is important that as a society, we each do our part to help make sure that difficult times bring out the best and not the worst in Singapore. We should take heed of incidents like this as it is a reminder of the part we all play to deny acceptability to acts of hate such as this appears to be.” This was in response to the Police announcement that it was investigating a man accused of using a racial slur and kicking a 55-year-old woman. Insofar as the Minister for Home Affair’s statement is concerned, indeed, we are in agreement. There is no place for racism in Singapore – no “ifs”, no “buts”.

I have two supplementary questions with regard to the Statement by the Minister for Health.

The first pertains to the HSA safety update that was recently released. It covered the suspected adverse event reports and I think this is a very important document released by MOH, because there is significant misinformation fuelled by not just misinformation alone, but different understanding of the safety of the vaccine. So, it is not necessarily misinformation, but genuine concerns that people may have. As usual, when you are concerned, you tend to be more animated and this can take on a life of its own. So, my request to the Minister is to consider whether this very useful document can be made into an infographic for easy sharing amongst members of the public, particularly the last 20% to 25 % that Minister said is hard to get through to with regard to the messaging on vaccination. The Workers’ Party Members of Parliament have been doing their part to encourage older Singaporeans, in particular, to get vaccinated. 

My second question is, again, to the Minister for Health. This pertains to the cluster at Tan Tock Seng Hospital. We have some residents – as I am sure Members in this House also have – who are in Tan Tock Seng Hospital because of some terminal illness or who are very ill. And the cluster at Tan Tock Seng Hospital has resulted in the visitation hours for family members of some of these patients to be severely curtailed. I am requesting the Ministry to consider whether there could be some regime to help these family members to have a bit more face time with their ill or terminally-ill family members.

Mr Gan Kim Yong: Sir, the answer to both questions is yes. We will try to make our report as easy to understand as possible. Maybe we will rely on “Mr Phua Chu Kang” to help us convey some of these messages. I believe some of you have seen the recent video that we have put out, which has been very effective in communicating some of these messages. We will see how we can make it simpler, easier to understand and to also avoid misunderstandings and rumours.

Secondly, on the visitation to Tan Tock Seng Hospital, I think the Member would understand why we need to tighten our visitation rules because we do want to prevent any infection that is in the hospital from spreading to the community and also to prevent visitors bringing in new infection to the hospital that will complicate the management process at the moment. But we do understand that there are family members who want to visit their elderly, their frail loved ones, particularly those who are terminally ill. They want to spend time with them and the hospital will make exceptions. And if you do come across any of these cases, you can either appeal to the hospital or to me. We will make adjustments and we will make allowance for them to visit as much as possible, but to also take into account the various precautionary measures that have to be put in place. 

11 May 2021

https://sprs.parl.gov.sg/search/sprs3topic?reportid=ministerial-statement-1664

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