The pandemic is still here but life continues relatively normal in Singapore. Masks are compulsory, you need to scan in everywhere with your smartphone or government provided token, your temperature is taken in all shops, malls and restaurants. Travelling is hardly possible but restaurants, offices and all sorts of public facilities are open and at home you can have up to 8 visitors per day. Events with up to 250 people are being organized again, churches hold their ‘crowd controlled’ but otherwise normal services and the vaccination drive runs smoothly.
That’s the good news but there’s a flipside as well.
Last week the 2020 World Freedom of Press index was publised which features Singapore at position 160 out of 180 countries https://rsf.org/en/singapore, something that didn’t get a lot of coverage in local media but is a clear indication of the desire to control every aspect of daily life.
Another flipside relates to the fact that the entire country depends heavily on cheap labour from less developed countries. Permits to stay in the country are linked to labour contracts, domestic workers need to stay at the premises where they work and blue collar workers are housed in dormitories. When the pandemic raged in Singapore last year, the spread in the dormitories was contained by limiting free movement of migrant workers. At that point also the term ‘Communion Cases’ was minted, to separate infections in dormitories from infections among residents. Several cases were found over the last weeks triggering anew the discussion about foreign workers’ dwellings which are clean and decent but make it hard for people to keep a safe distance. That combined with measures to limit the movement of foreign workers has kept and will keep the spread of the virus under control but clearly at a price.
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Fixer, traveller, writer and founder of TheNeighbour