While it is not enshrined in the Constitution, I consider it my fundamental right as a citizen to be able to sit down in a coffeeshop or hawker centre every morning and have my kopi-O. So when this is taken away from me, I take it that we are in lockdown mode.
Of course this lockdown is not as tough as last year’s CB and Tightened CB. It’s a lot looser this time around. I can still go to my barber, see my dentist and see a show at the cinema. It’s a very ‘loose’ (as opposed to tight or tigher) CB, if it is a CB at all. Unlike what some people say, you can still have a little fun with a very loose CB.
But somehow the wordsmiths have failed us this round by not coming up with something catchy to describe what we are in (like CB and tightened CB). Instead, they have come up with a term like “ Phase 2 – heightened alert”. (Face-palm++).
I take umbrage at the use of the word “heightened”. The use of this word is very insensitive to us short people. As a halfling, I feel I am targeted if not discriminated against whenever I see the word “height” or “heightened” being used. Why can’t people use other terms like “broadened alert” or “widened alert” or just “light lockdown”? Which is why this hobbit really hopes this country will have a short(er) prime minister soon, who can stand tall, I mean stand-up, for us short fellows.
To avoid the use of this very vexing word “heightened”, I will call the current phase as “loose- lockdown phase” or “LL phase”. “LL” sort of describes rather well how I feel now.
Many friends have asked this hobbit how should we respond to this new LL phase. Well, it’s obvious – just follow law. Stay at home if you can. Cook at home, eat home, work from home etc. Don’t go anywhere unless necessary and if you do, wear your mask and bring your TraceTogether along.
But beyond legal compliance, others have asked – how should we respond intellectually and emotionally?
Some chaps ask rather difficult questions like –
- Could this LL have been avoided?
- Could we have closed our borders earlier to countries that were having an exploding number Covid-19 cases?
- Could we not have this LL phase now?
- Could we have diversified our foreign labour sources and not take just from one region in the world, just like how we now have four taps to meet our water requirements? Isn’t there just too much risk concentration?
- Should we have segregated high risk and low risk travellers in Changi Airport like what a Straits Times Forum writer said a month ago prophetically (https://www.straitstimes.com/opinion/forum/letter-of-the-week-stricter-covid-19-measures-needed-for-inbound-passengers-at-airport. (hobbit’s postscript: obviously the writers of the official reply dated 21 April didn’t think so –https://www.straitstimes.com/opinion/forum/airport-takes-multi-layered-risk-based-approach-to-curbing-infection)
- Should we have better anticipated double mutation strains like B.1.617 are far more infectious than the old Covid-19 strains, considering what was happening in their place of origin?
- Do we really need to do Routine-Rostered Testing (RRT) for all healthcare workers (HCWs)? Do we not trust our PPE, infection control measures and vaccination to protect our HCWs?
In short, these nasty questions centre around two themes – what lessons can we learn from this setback and are we managing this current wave correctly?
One angsty dwarven banker even asked – between keeping foreign labour coming in to support the construction, process and marine sectors (and helping with economic growth), and now the LL phase – which has a larger effect on the economy and emotional, mental and social well-being of the citizens? What is the trade-off we are talking about? The dwarf remarked – these policy wonks love talking about trade-offs all the time, but somehow nobody is talking about trade-off between keeping the process, marine and construction sectors going and what we are suffering now for four weeks.
I will be honest, having grown up in a fun-loving, carefree, beer guzzling shire in Middle-earth, all these questions are terribly complicated and distressful to me.
But a wise elven wizard helped this hobbit see the light when he commented on this statement:
“These cases all originated from imports because all borders are porous. All it takes is one case to cause an outbreak, and no country can seal itself off totally. At the minimum, citizens and residents must be allowed to return home”. (MOH Facebook Page, 15 May 2021)
He said, “this means it was all inevitable. Just like the Mother of All Clusters (MOAC) in the dorms last year. That was nothing we could have done. MOAC would have happened anyway. Similarly here. It was pre-ordained that we need to have those foreign workers coming in to support the process, construction and marine sectors. Thus we need to take the risk of these imported cases coming in, even though we know that it takes only one case to cause an outbreak”.
He added, “It was also predestined that the super-infectious B.1.617 strains would have led to the Changi Airport and TTSH clusters and probably now the tuition centre/schools clusters as well”.
He concluded, “Everything was preordained and predestined and hence inevitable. We made the right calls, no error of judgment was made. This is the way”. (In an elven accent – not Mandalorian)
Yes, it was all evitable. And once we accept this explanation, a lot of other questions are also answered or become moot as well. It’s like you are playing an online role-playing quest game, and your avatar discovers this powerful magic item (more like you paid bucket-loads of money for it) that gives your avatar enormous benefits. Example – you discover the Amulet of KNN – which renders your character immune to psychic attacks, -8 to mace attacks, +5 to dexterity score and +50 hit-points.
The elven wizard then introduced me to this magic item called the Ring of Inevitability. He fished it out of the pocket of his Cloak of Non-culpbability; the Ring burnished under the midday light and I was immediately desirous to obtain it.
He whispered to me that once the wearer has the great magic item called the Ring Of Inevitability, he will be immune to questions such as “if only we had….?”, “Could we have…?”, “Could we not have….?” etc., etc. from all those around him, including himself. Such tiresome questions become inconsequential once we wear the Ring of Inevitability.
And he was right. Once I bought the Ring of Inevitability from him and wore it, I was happier and more peaceable immediately. I no longer asked myself all these vexatious questions and could accept the current LL phase with the kind of equanimity that Sir William Osler described. I also dismissed such questions from those around me as irrelevant and even irreverent to me, the mighty Ring-wearer. I felt l have become invisible to obnoxious questions as they passed right through me. I no longer took umbrage to these questions anymore as I became as invisible to these questions as the Nazgul Ringwraiths of the Second Age in Middle-earth.
I didn’t even feel LL at all about this LL phase anymore. Gosh, I hadn’t felt so good since I was given fentanyl by my anaesthetist for a procedure years ago…..
Before he left, the elven wizard grinned and said, “You should consider taking the Cloak of Non-culpability as well. The Cloak makes all accusations against the wearer hollow and ineffectual. It goes extremely well with the Ring of Inevitability”.
Note: for the avoidance of doubt – this post is a satire.