Vivian Balakrishnan: 'Do not politicise' process of Covid-19 inquiry when emergency phase is over

He said China has been a dependable partner to Singapore.

Kayla Wong| May 22, 09:47 PM

"Do not politicise" the process of the post-emergency inquiry into the global Covid-19 pandemic, Singapore's Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan told Australian media Sky News Australia in an interview published on Friday, May 22.

Both China & Australia are "dependable partners"

Vivian said that in the current time, when the world is dealing with "a clear and present danger" from the pandemic, what every country needs to do is to do what they can domestically, and to also "work with each other to support one another", especially when one requires supplies or emergency assistance.

He continued by saying "actions speak louder than words", and that speaking from his experience managing Singapore's relations with both China and Australia, all three countries have been "dependable partners".

"That is the first thing, to not get distracted by the polemic and the politics," he said.

The Foreign Minister was responding to the interviewer who asked if he has any advice for Australia in "dealing with China", especially since their relations became strained even further after the former called for an inquiry into the origins of Covid-19.

The interviewer had also prefaced her question by saying "just about every country" is currently facing a strain in its relations with China, Southeast Asian countries included.

"Don't politicise" inquiry into what happened with Covid-19

Vivian went on to say in his second point that after the emergency phase in the global health crisis is over, there will come a time when "a proper inquiry" to look into "what happened and whether things could have been done better".

However, while such an inquiry should and will be done, he cautioned countries not to politicise the process.

He said: "There is no point getting on a soapbox and yelling at the top of one's voice."

"... the less said, the more done, and keeping a cool head is most helpful in this scenario."

You can read the full transcript of his interview here.

China stands in contrast with the U.S. in Covid-19 response

Australia has joined many Western countries, such as the United States, Britain, France and Germany, in calling for investigations into China's handling of the outbreak.

While China has rejected calls for a review into the pandemic's origins, and pushed back against such demands initially by defending China's management of the virus outbreak, it later agreed to an international probe into the pandemic's origins led by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

China's pandemic response has stood out in contrast with the American approach under Trump.

While China announced it would make a massive US$2 billion (S$2.85 billion) donation to the WHO, showing its intention to help fight the pandemic globally, U.S. President Donald Trump had threatened to withdraw the U.S. from the WHO unless the global health body can "demonstrate independence from China".

In defending the U.S. in having the highest number of reported Covid-19 cases in the world, Trump had likened it to "a badge of honour", saying the high number was due to the country doing "more testing than anybody else" -- a claim that is inaccurate.

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Top image via Sky News Australia