Taiwan TV show praises S'pore's Covid-19 response, says govt 'daring' in its approach

An expert on the panel said the pay cut taken by top government officials was a 'touching' gesture.

Kayla Wong | March 03, 2020, 07:52 PM

A Taiwanese TV show commended the Singapore government's efforts in successfully reducing the number of Covid-19 infection cases, and keeping the situation under control.

Spotlight no longer on Singapore as worst-hit country outside China

During the 11-minute segment which was part of a political talk show, News Tornado, broadcasted by CTi News on Feb. 28, the hosts pointed out that during the Lunar New Year period, Singapore had the most number of reported cases outside China.

However, they said the country managed to get itself out of the headlines by keeping the numbers from rising much further in just 20 days.

While they said they do not know if Singapore is a role model when it comes to tackling such viral outbreaks, they acknowledged that its response has indeed worked to prevent the outbreak from escalating, adding that no death has occurred so far.

The show invited experts to talk about the measures the Singapore government employed to combat the virus as well.

Such measures were at times described as being "drastic".

Measures were successful as the government was willing to spend money

A biology teacher on the panel of experts, Pan Yan Hong, pointed out the safety measures local health authorities have taken.

Referring to a video captured by a mainland Chinese woman who was quarantined at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases in Singapore for two days, Pan pointed out the following safety precautions that the facility has taken to minimise direct contact between medical workers and quarantined suspect cases:

  • Staff pass items to quarantined person by placing them in a sealed box-like collection point
  • Room has double doors and a space in between for medical workers to change into protective gear before entering the room
  • The doors do not open at the same time
  • Medical workers dispose of protective gear in a biohazard bin after using it, but not before placing it in a sealed plastic bag first
  • Three dedicated routes complete with separate lifts so medical workers, regular patients and quarantined persons do not come in contact with one another

Measures were successful as the government was willing to spend money

In addition, Pan pointed out that the woman's stay at the facility was free as all costs were incurred by the Singapore government, which was why he concluded that Singapore managed to get the situation under control as it was willing to spend loads of money.

Commending the move, he said it is effective as residents do not have to worry about the financial burden that comes with getting treatment, which might deter some from seeking medical help even if they might be sick.

"Drastic measures"

Pan then raised a few examples of people being punished for not complying with instructions issued by the authorities, such as the 45-year-old man who lost his Singapore permanent residency and was banned from re-entering the country after breaching Stay-Home Notice requirements.

He also mentioned the two Chinese nationals who were charged for lying about their movements and whereabouts.

Furthermore, he highlighted the "140-men task force" the government set up to conduct contact tracing once the first case appeared in Singapore, which ended up putting more than 2,500 people in quarantine.

"Once these drastic measures were implemented, the results showed up immediately," he said.

One of the deputy secretaries at Taiwan Medical Association, Luo Jun Xuan, also pointed out the one-month pay cut taken by Singapore's political office holders, as well as the additional one-month bonus given to public health officers on the front lines.

He claimed that the pay cut was taken to give healthcare workers the extra bonus, and to boost their morale -- a conjuncture he came to.

The hosts then expressed their sense of amazement at the measure, with one of them saying: "Very daring, only the Singapore government (would do this)."

Luo continued by saying that the measure was "very touching".

Praised Singapore for giving high salaries to government employees

A third expert on the panel, Yuan Zong Nan, who is a professor at CYCU Interior Design, then talked about the extremely high salaries given to political office holders and civil servants, whom he said are "the elites of the elites".

Saying that Singapore is an "illiberal democracy", which earned a slight snigger from one of the hosts, he said such high salaries keep corruption levels low.

He further said their high pay also allows for the pay cut announced by the government, which he claimed better motivates government workers to work hard during this time of crisis.

He then claimed that Singapore fines a person for spitting one chewing gum TW$25,800 (S$1,197), and doubles the fine if the person spat out two gums, saying that such draconian laws underlie Singapore's approach to the viral outbreak, which is why it was successful so far.

You can watch the video here:

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Top image via News Tornado