Time to bring out the cane - Why the rotan is necessary to stop the spread in Singapore?



Is this the time to bring out the cane?


" I have never understood why Western educationists are so much against corporal punishment. It did my fellow students and me no harm." 

1998 , The Wit & Wisdom - Lee Kuan Yew




What happened?

On Friday, we were told that the situation is under control but we need Circuit Breakers measures to keep it from getting out of hand. The circuit measures will start on Tues with the closing of most workplaces. 

Instead of hunkering down over the weekend and make preparations for what is to come, crowds were seen flocking to Ikea, Liho, Toys R Us, Challenger, Supermarkets, Restaurants, Parks and even Bukit Timah Hills. The ones that were out were hellbent on making a bad situation worse. While the ones that heed the advice look upon the updates on social media in disbelief. With one weekend of madness, the stipulated month-long circuit breaker might last longer than we anticipated.
Source : CNA 

While the measures to date had been effective in containing the spread, the recent influx of imported cases and the subsequent impact on local transmission could not be discounted. In one particular case, an imported case was found responsible for the start of 3 clusters and 1 death. It is apparent that one is only 6 degrees away from getting an infection if it had not been stumped. Given the speed of the spread, it seems appropriate to back the measures implemented with regulations.  

Is this time to bring out the cane?

What is the cane?

The use of the Cane or Rotan is not a lockdown, rather it is the implementation of rules and laws to complement the measures. Most would see it as a deterrent. Others will deem it as an enforceable measure to ensure the advisories are taken seriously.

As seen by years of 'fine' campaigning, it has its merits.

Why use the Rotan?
  • Advisories Fallen to deaf ears
For the past 2 months, advisories being released to combat the spread. Yet, every time an advisory is given, we would see people circumventing them. From travel advisories falling on deaf ears to farewell party proposed by nightclubs in view of the imminent closure of entertainment venues to curb the spread. It seems counter-reactive whenever an advisory is given. Similar to what happened over the weekend, the urgency of the circuit breakers was largely ignored by the crowds swamping the island for frivolous one last time activity like eating meatballs in Ikea or shopping for toys for birthdays.

Personally, we think advisories will not work in Singapore for various reasons and had listed our views here.  Instead of advisories,  we should change it to regulation instead.  Add a define list of punishment and enforced it to ensure the message is delivered

  • A false sense of security
In truth, advisories would create a false sense of security for some. There will be those who think that actions within the confines of the advisory would be safe. Furthermore, without punishment attached, most would think that it is a small matter. There is no need to panic or raise alarm bells and everyone should be cool about it. The truth is often further than perception. In this case, the severity of the situation had been misread by many. 
  • There are always those that will circumvent advisories
Even for those who understood the severity, there are those who would like to test the boundaries. Take for example, if the ruling was no gatherings of 10 people in a public place, some wisecrack would suggest a party of 20 in the house. It is in cases like that which makes enforcement necessary. Not adhering to the spirit of the advisory is as good as breaking them with intent.


  • Protect those who trust the system
The use of regulations and punishments would help to protect those who trust the system. Law-abiding citizens who understood the severity of the situation should not be subjected to the threats of those who choose to ignore them. If the former have the comfort that laws are in place to ensure compliance, they would be more comfortable knowing that the system can work.
  • Enforcement may be the only way to ensure compliance
Unfortunately, the countless times that advisories had shown one thing- Only enforcement will work in the context of Singapore. For a nation that had been nannied for most parts of the young life, this is not the time to give it the liberty to do what it wants. Unbridled freedom would be dangerous to many who may be confused about how to use them wisely.

  • Delayed implementation  might lead to a longer lockdown
There seems to be a time lag from the announcement of measures to the time it is implemented. Last weekend was the perfect example. The introduction of circuit breaker was a direct result of the community spread. That means the spread is already evident and we have to be prepared for it. There was leeway given with non-essential work stoping on Tues and Schools on Wed.

The time lag was meant for people to get their houses in order. To give them time to prepare for what is to come. Instead, it has been abuse by many as seen for queues in non-essential items such as toys, meatballs and Bubble Tea.

This is unfair to the ones who heed the calls to battle while others try their utmost best to derail the efforts.

  • Those who complied might question if they made the right choice
For those who complied, they see non-reaction as positive reinforcement for bad behaviour. In fact, the ones who listen and hope for a fast resolution ended up paying a bigger price as they see the efforts they made ruin by those who choose not to listen. If this drags on, even the strongest will waver and give up as their efforts not supported by the rule of law.

How to use the cane?

Set define rules on gatherings
Current advisories on movements restrictions are vague. For example, the advisory states avoid socialising beyond your own household can be subjected to different interpretation. A smart-alec can say that one to one tuition is ok since it is not socialising. Another may make exercising in the park as an excuse to meet up with friends for a game of basketball or soccer as they are exercising, not socialising.

Compliment the rules with punishment
As much as we hate to be treated like a child, without the fear of appropriate punishment, there will always be people who would break the rules for the sake of doing so. Punishment will serve to deter those who intend to break the rules and to enforce it when necessary.

Let Citizens Play a part
Patroling the streets by police and military can be daunting, especially during this period. Instead, let the citizens play a part. Give them the ability to report a case with a hotline. That way it will lessen the load of the frontliners. With the added pair of eyes, everyone takes ownership of personal responsibility.





Epilogue


This is NOT a suggestion to lockdown. Rather, to make sure the circuit breakers work, we have to define the rules and the corresponding punishment. Set firm rules on gathering, travelling, essential purchase and so forth. Do not fear backlash for the real fear is the failure to act. Take short term pains to avoid sharper pains later.

With rules in place to make the circuit breakers work, we could restart the same as we are before. Else, at the end of the day, it will be just a fuse instead of a circuit breaker. The former a sacrificial device, that once triggered will lead to complete failure.

If that happens, we will see a prolonged blackout. This darkness will be much longer than we expect. When that happens, we would need more than just a switch to bring life back to normalcy. It may take months if not years to reclaim life back to where it was.

The nation's window to stop the pandemic in the track is getting smaller as the day progresses. We cannot sit back and hope everyone would do their part by compiling with the orders. It is a well-known fact that there will always be dissidents no matter the cause. It is for this reason that we need to bring the cane out.

Act now, bring the rotan. It’s not time to spare the rod and spoil the child. Use it to save a nation that is now on bended knees


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