Singapore would not close schools due to the COVID-19 coronavirus

Prime minister Lee Hsien Loong said today that, “If schools are closed, children from lower-income families would bear the heavier burden of the tighter restrictions.”

But why?

He added: “If you do not have (the schools) open, it does not mean that your problem has gone away, because where do the kids go? Those who have parents who can look after them at home — well, okay they ‘guai guai’ (Mandarin for ‘obediently’) sit at home, do homework, no computer games.”

He also said: “But those without parental care at home may head to the video arcade or to the shops to roam around, thus placing them at greater risk of contracting Covid-19 than if they had remained in a controlled school environment.” [ LINK ]

These are the issues:

(1) As a government, if we are worried children are going back to homes where parents are working and cannot take care of them, then we can provide special “epidemic prevention childcare leave”. This is what Taiwan is doing – companies are required to allow employees to take 14 days of this special leave, and they are not allowed to penalize employees or force them to take their own personal leave too.

(2) If we are worried low-income families will be burdened because Singapore’s system pay them such low wages they need to rely on public service, then let’s pay them higher wages. So that even in times of a crisis like COVID-19, they will still have enough savings to cope.

(3) Also, why do we have the perception that kids who stay at home are “guai” and those who head out will go to “video arcades”? There are other activities too. Are we putting a value judgment or stereotyping children from families with different incomes?

Look, Singapore is not a poor country. Even now, the supplementary budget released yesterday, it is still lesser than what other countries with lower GDP per capita is providing for their citizens.

Singapore’s GDP per capita is similar as Denmark, and Denmark can afford to give about S$4,500 to S$5,000 as wages to low-income earners, and about S$8,000 to median income earners. In Singapore, cleaners earn S$1,200 and median income earners earn S$4,500.

Denmark is also a small country without natural resources. So why can Denmark do it, but not Singapore?

And Denmark can give its citizens free education, free healthcare, unemployment benefits, adequate pension, because it’s paying its workers such high wages, that even when it taxes them, they not only still have high post-tax wages, the tax they pay is enough to give them back free services.

The Danes pay tax, but Singaporeans pay CPF back for the same thing, and we are paying a similar proportion for CPF as they pay in tax. So why aren’t we getting back free services? One reason is because wages in Singapore are lower, and the other is because, of what we pay into CPF, it is not returned in full.

In short, with Singapore’s GDP per capita, Singapore can afford the wages and free services like Denmark.

And Singapore would be able to afford the social protection Denmark is providing to its citizens now too during the coronavirus – its workers are getting wage subsidies of 75% during this COVID-19 outbreak. In Singapore, general workers are only getting 25% in wage subsidies.

Also, in Denmark, unemployment benefits go up to as high as 90% of a worker’s pre-unemployment wage, and the average unemployment benefits is about 60%. In Singapore, the government is finally giving some form of unemployment benefits, but it’s only S$800 for 3 months. Also, S$800 is less than 20% the median wage in Singapore.

What I am saying is Singapore has the money to do more. Singapore can do more. And more needs to be done to protect workers who are losing their jobs, having their work hours cut because of the coronavirus. And we can definitely provide subsidies for parents to take time off to take care of their children. If we can implement draconian measures to punish people who sit too close to one another during this coronavirus, we can also punish companies who do not let their workers go home to take care of their children.

We can do it. We can do it. And we must do it.

There is no reason why Singapore cannot do more.

 

Roy Ngerng

 

 

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16 Responses to “Singapore would not close schools due to the COVID-19 coronavirus”

  • Asd:

    I think the president should declare state of emergency because the goverment seems to be waiting for worsening statistics before doing what many countries are seriously doing now which is to lock down and stay home

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  • PAPVID-20:

    Children are not allowed into video arcade if they’re in school uniforms. So, ai mai nia, want or don’t want only. If emperor lee and his eunuchs are seriously worried that with schools closed children will end up in arcade, then just order arcades to forbid all children from entering lah.

    Also, if govt can assign si mi “safe distancing AMBASSADOR” in every part of sg to remind people about social distancing, surely they can also assign “mata will catch you AMBASSADOR” to look out for children who are on the streets or malls without parents’ company and warn them to go back home.

    What thing this govt cannot do? It’s whether they want to do it anot only.

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  • N.Jungne:

    He will be abandon by his own people

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  • Have a heart:

    That LJ face ong ye goon is a useless chap.

    He has no qualms for a school child to be humiliated for $100+.

    Now, this idiot allows our school kids to be exposed to a deadly disease.

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  • Roy must be dreaming. Giving money to sillyzens is NEVER in the party’s dictionary since ions ago and will never be.

    This time they willing to gib is bcos erection is cumming, but they will surely take back once they have managed to wayang teh 70% dafts.

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  • Hu Chian:

    You’re absolutely right. The problem is Lee Hsien Loong thinks he is a devilish genius, but with a tunnel vision (narrow-minded). He simply can’t see farther than his nose let alone Covid-19. Basically, he is saying that whether you go or do not go to school and contract Covid-19 that is still your problem, not his.

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  • WakeupSG:

    PM’s excuse of children not cared for by working parents going to video arcade or shop is lame as the sweeping measures of closure & social distancing are in place which will deter them going to such places!

    It is just irrational to close pubs, discos, karaoke outlets, cinemas, tuition centres, etc & not the schools!

    Half measures will not do to contain the Covid-19 virus!

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  • Downsize:

    What’s the point of giving subsidy to companies/businesses in order for them to keep their staff when clearly buiness is slow and customers are not there? It might be better for companies to have their employees go on no-pay leave or half -pay by taking turns to come in on alternate weeks. That way you lessen the crowd during work hours, increase social distancing and also, more parents can stay home with their children. Financial assistance should be given only to businesses that help fight the pandemic.

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  • PAPs got to go VTO:

    now theyre making our school kids sacrificial lambs.
    dun talk about parents having no one to take care of them when parents are at work..
    if sgov can accomodate n feed msian workers plus thousands of travellers coming in (for 14 days , some very comfortably in hotels), why cant they find a solution for these school kids.
    go study how the smart japanese are doing it.

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  • Power crazy:

    Hu Chian:
    You’re absolutely right. The problem is Lee Hsien Loong thinks he is a devilish genius, but with a tunnel vision (narrow-minded). He simply can’t see farther than his nose let alone Covid-19. Basically, he is saying that whether you go or do not go to school and contract Covid-19 that is still your problem, not his.

    Like dead old man, loony wants to hang on to power until he drops dead in office or the third C finishes him off.

    This spoilt brat doesn’t care a hoot what you sinkies think coz he believes Sinkapore belongs to him.

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  • Harder Truths:

    The kids do need to stay home – even the chief idiot says that much – but he says ‘no one to look after them’.

    What the chief idiot means is he and his gang will not spend money or create a way of this to happen – i.e. to help the parents and kids weather the crisis.

    Why? because $G kids do not mean anything to them. What really matters is FT kids brought here to study and replace local kids. Why should they take trouble over something that they already decide is not worth it?

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  • What's The PAP doing:

    They are scared that the school children will go to the Arcade. That’s why they do not want to close the school. Like all entertainment centre, all Arcades should also be closed. Problem solved.

    They are using taxpayer money to subsidise companies to retain staff. But should Singaporean taxpayer money be used to subsidise and retain foreign workers and FTs ? They should sack all foreign workers and use the money to subsidise and retain Singaporean workers only.

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  • Nk:

    Don’t worry.you don’t lock down,

    Other countries will lock us down if
    situation no improve.

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  • Lye Khuen Way:

    Yes, Jungne. I have the same belief too.

    $inkapoor belongs to the rest of the World but not it’s citizens.

    Wasn’t that what our Pink in Health Minister once implied?

    Roy gave many examples of how Taiwan handled such a situation.
    Will the Authorities consider them or just brush them aside?

    N.Jungne:
    He will be abandon by his own people

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  • Useless:

    SCMP – New research may point to possible role of children in coronavirus spread
    New research may point to possible role of children in coronavirus spread

    https://www.scmp.com/news/china/society/article/3077402/new-chinese-research-may-point-possible-role-children

    USELESS GOV

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  • Schoolsclosed Postelect?:

    In every country, schools have been traditionally used as voting centres, usually during school holidays.

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