Singapore Trade Minister Defends Government Messaging on Virus
(Bloomberg) -- Singapore’s Trade Minister Gan Kim Yong, one of the co-chairs of a taskforce managing the pandemic response, defended the government’s messaging on the virus and said decisions are made collectively amid criticism over confusing signals on the country’s reopening plan.
Gan said it may seem that the ministers who head the taskforce are expressing different views on the pandemic as it reflects a quickly evolving situation on the ground. He called it “a mis-perception” that the taskforce has conflicting views, responding to a question on whether this reflects a split in the ruling party and wider society in Singapore.
He told Bloomberg News in an interview that he and the other two co-chairs -- Finance Minister Lawrence Wong and Heath Minister Ong Ye Kung speak regularly on phone, Line and Zoom apps to discuss key decisions and “once we decided, we move in unison as part of the collective decision making.”
“The three of us, the ministers in the taskforce including other ministers, not just the co-chairs, do hold different views because that is the advantage of a multi ministry taskforce,” Gan said in an interview on Monday. “We have the benefit of a variety of views.”
Gan’s comments come after Bloomberg News reported last month that senior members of the ruling People’s Action Party have been concerned that mixed signals from the virus task force were giving the appearance of divisions that could lead to rare infighting.
Singapore has seen a surge in cases despite its high vaccination rate, prompting the government to delay reopening plans and reimpose some social curbs that has frustrated some quarters and made others demand more restrictions.
Gan said the taskforce coordinates the decisions made on the ground to make sure the whole system is consistent and from “time to time we do need to make adjustments,” emphasizing the cautious approach Singapore has taken to start living with the virus.
“That’s why as we make adjustments you will find that one minister says something different from the previous statement because things have changed, so I think we just have to put statements in context,” he said.
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