Putting square pegs into round holes, the results speak for themselves

Taiwan, hailed as the role model in COVID-19 pandemic management, has a secret weapon at the forefront of its response.

Vice-President Chen Chien-jen is a John Hopkins-trained epidemiologist and an expert in viruses.

Often called “disease detectives”, epidemiologists search for the cause of disease, identify people who are at risk, and determine how to control the spread or prevent it from happening again.

Vice-President Chen has been relentlessly tracking infections and pushing for testing kits. When he gives advice to the public, they pay close attention because he knows what he’s talking about.

As of now, Taiwan has only 440 confirmed coronavirus cases and 7 deaths.

Taiwan has a secret weapon to lead the fight, Singapore has square pegs in round holes

In contrast, let’s look at the three ministers leading the COVID-19 fight for Singapore.

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong majored in electrical engineering.

Given his background, his key contribution has probably been the adoption of the term “circuit breaker” – a confounding euphemism for lockdown.

As for the other two ministers at the forefront of the COVID-19 battle, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong and Manpower Minister Josephine Teo, both are trained in economics.

Given their background, it’s easy to see that they could possibly have weighed the cost of moving foreign workers out of dormitories earlier to curb the spread of COVID-19, but decided against it because the cost seemed prohibitively high.

Could this decision have been the monumental misstep that led to the huge explosion in migrant worker infections?

Yet another electrical engineer in the COVID-19 fight

If we were to look at the credentials of a fourth key minister, Masagos Zulkifli, Environment and Water Resources Minister, who has been active in the circuit breaker phase, guess what – he’s an electrical engineer by training.

The irony is that aside from electrical engineers and economists and generals, we do have doctors in the cabinet.

But Ng Eng Hen is Defence Minister while Vivian Balakrishnan is Foreign Minister.

In trying to fit square pegs into round holes, it’s no wonder that we end up dithering and teetering while others move decisively because their expertise is put to the best use.

While economists might have been critically held back by cost considerations, electrical engineers were consumed with coining the pretentious muddle-headed “circuit breaker”.

No need to copyright this term. No other country wants to copy something that would subject it to ridicule.

 

Augustine Low

 

 

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24 Responses to “Putting square pegs into round holes, the results speak for themselves”

  • Tam:

    All these jokers are paid millions to mess up big time. We get electrical engineer to be health minister, what can we expect? Indian become Malay president. What a laughing stock!

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  • No hope for sinkies:

    WTF we have a bunch of overpaid misfits in the kitchen cabinet.

    Time to do some real spring cleaning to get rid of these useless items.

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  • Goh:

    Augustine is spot on. We have all kinds of ministers not fit to do the jobs. Why is a doctor defence minister? Why is an electrical engineer health minister? They fumble and drop the ball, they drop shit and give excuses. Paid millions for substandard work….no, worse than substandard….disgraceful and deplorable!!!

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  • Soccerbetting2:

    Reported on Straits Times website :Quote – “ASIAEast Asia SE Asia South Asia Australia/NZ

    Everyone entering Malaysia must agree to pay for mandatory quarantine before trip: Senior Minister Ismail Sabri

    Malaysians would pay half the cost of quarantine services while non-citizens, including spouses and family members of Malaysian citizens, had to bear the full cost.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG
    PUBLISHED1 HOUR AGO
    FACEBOOKWHATSAPPTWITTER
    PUTRAJAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) – All those entering Malaysia will have to bear the cost of mandatory quarantine and are to sign a letter agreeing to pay before they can make the trip to the country, says Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

    The Senior Minister said with the latest policy, Malaysians would pay half the cost of quarantine services while non-citizens, including spouses and family members of Malaysian citizens, had to bear the full cost.

    “This will take effect from June 1 as Malaysia will continue to impose compulsory quarantine on those who return from abroad to prevent the spread of Covid-19, ” he said at his daily media briefing on Wednesday (May 20).

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    Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri said the National Security Council had decided that Malaysian citizens would pay 50 per cent of the full charges of RM150 (S$48.75) per day.

    “Non-citizens, including spouses and dependents of Malaysian citizens, will have to pay the full amount, ” he said.

    Mr Ismail Sabri said the council had also decided that those who wanted to come to Malaysia would have to sign a letter of undertaking, which states their agreement to bear the quarantine costs.

    “The signing of the letter can be done at Malaysian embassies and high commissions. After the agreement is signed, the office will also issue a letter permitting them to return to Malaysia, ” he said.

    He said the Immigration Department would play its part to ensure returnees were aware of the new condition set by the government.

    “The Immigration (Department) will be issuing a directive to all airline companies to make it a condition for passengers disembarking in Malaysia to have this letter of undertaking with them, ” he said…. “Unquote.

    Response : So stop going across Malaysia if you don’t want to pay for mandatory quarantine before trip. Better buy bigger HDB flat of 4,5 rooms in Singapore and stay here better still. If corona virus persist longer, tourist attraction like Genting Casino may become unsustainable. Thai Airways is recently reported out to be facing financial problems recently going bankrupt but their Thai government is backing them . So be smart and sell off your Malaysia properties if you have any. Can kick that bad luck Malaysian born “Cow” back to Malaysia to moo moo there.

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  • Uniquely Sinkingpore:

    Goh:
    Augustine is spot on. We have all kinds of ministers not fit to do the jobs. Why is a doctor defence minister? Why is an electrical engineer health minister? They fumble and drop the ball, they drop shit and give excuses. Paid millions for substandard work….no, worse than substandard….disgraceful and deplorable!!!

    To say the least, it’s mind boggling!

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  • limpei:

    Augustine’s observation is insightful

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  • trublu:

    The POINT IS TO TARGET THE CRUX IF THE MATTER.
    Abs,it is to STOP THE RISK EXPOSURE right at the onset like what REAL PREVENTIVE MEDICINE is all about!
    WHO is KIM GAN-YONG?
    IS HE TRAINED IN MEDICINE?
    WHY IS LEE AH LONG PUTTING DOCTORS IN TRADE N INDUSTRY OR FOREIGN AFFAIRS INSTEAD ID MOH?
    ISNT NG THE HEN A DOCTOR too?
    Lee Ah Long does not know how to deploy RESOURCES!

    Having said that,even my granny would have insisted on WEARING MASKS N CONTAINMENT RIGHT AT THE BEGINNING if she were HEALTH MINISTER?!

    WHY ARE SCHOLARS SO DUMB?
    PERHAPS IT HAS TO DO WITH ARROGANCE?

    COVUD HUMBLES THE PROUD HEARTED…

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  • CB & The Emperor's Patronage:

    Churches can carry on with worship services, as long as precautionary measures are in place, the Government assured church leaders in a meeting on Friday, February 14, 2020.

    About 40 people – more than half church leaders – were in attendance as Minister for Health Gan Kim Yong and Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu gave updates on the COVID-19 situation at the MCCY Building on Friday evening.

    Mr Gan reiterated that there were no plans for Dorscon (risk assessment) level to go Red.

    “I want to say categorically that we have no plans to go to Dorscon Red. So please help me stop these rumours going forward, so that we can focus our efforts in dealing with our patients, and support them,” he said in an earlier press conference reported by the Straits Times.

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  • Realistically:

    @ Augustine Low

    “But Ng Eng Hen is Defence Minister while Vivian Balakrishnan is Foreign Minister.”

    Ng Eng Hen was a gynecological oncologist while Vivian Balakrishnan was an eye surgeon. Neither had the knowledge and expertise of Taiwan’s VP Chen, a well-respected trained epidemiologist from the well-known Johns Hopkins University which is a leader in medical research and study.

    As I have said repeatedly wearing of surgical face masks would have been a commonsensical approach from the BEGINNING, ie around mid-January 2020 when the Wuhan COVID-19 spread became known. However the emperor without clothes had publicly advised that the wearing of masks by those who appeared well, would not protect the wearer, CONTRARY to the practice by doctors and nurses at hospitals and polyclinics.

    BESIDES, the emperor without clothes was pre-occupied with calling a premature GE which is not due until April 2021, and had taken his eyes off the COVID-19 pandemic, which consequently resulted in having to spend billions to ameliorate the infection spread.

    Whereas the Taiwanese diligently, after due inquiries, began taking precautionary measures from 31 December 2019.

    As I hv said many times, it is the emperor with clothes who had FAILED in EPIC way to protect sinkies (& the FW) from the ravages of the COVID-19 by his sheer incompetence and lack of critical thinking skills……..and not solely the fault of the 4G Ministers, atlhough people like Gan Kim Yong, Josephine Teo and Ong Ye Kung should be dismissed for their respective failures.

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  • Doc Not So Useful::

    The two doctors in cabinet – Ng was oncologist and Vivien was ophthalmologist. Both not much use for a pandemic of this nature.

    As I posted before, PAP underestimated the virus and overestimated their capabilities. Given also that this is election period, PAP simply die die wanted to showcase the ‘useless’ 4G leaders as good and capable. The biggest mistake was that the Singapore govt should but didn’t formed a council of epidemiologists, infectious disease experts and doctor with infection expertise to advice and council them and for these group of people to lead the fight against this disease.

    Instead, we have politicians of dubious backgrounds of electrical engineering, economic acting as pandemic expertise causing us to wasted billions of tax payers’ dollars.

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  • opposition dude:

    Well now, hasn’t this been the greatest comedy show put up by the PAP’s monkeys, turkeys and donkeys so far. We have had loads to laugh at ranging from their funny and downright ridiculous excuses about the Banglas being on the radar since January, not knowing a few cases could lead to a cluster despite clusters being reported previously and their slowness in imposing Dorscon Red. All hallmarks of an inept government who got caught off guard and responded too slowly.

    I wonder how this will affect their vote share. Will it cause it to plunge down to below 60% or will it not matter too much to the kiasee dafts?

    Oh well, let the PAP continue to brag and boast that they are the best, we all could always do with a laugh or two during this lockdown!

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  • MarBowling:

    It’s EASY as ABC when we humble folks WANT TO COMPARE the performance of Taiwan VP Chen with our World Class Multi-Millionaire Ministers in HANDLING the Covid 19 Pandemic outbreak.

    However, it’s very DIFFICULT like climbing Mount Everest, when we humble folks WANT TO COMPARE the salary of VP Chen with OUR World Highest PAY Ministers. And forget about comparison when a VP, Head of State, Sovereign Head, etc of ANY COUNTRY ON PLANET EARTH, WANTS TO COMPARE THEIR SALAY WITH OUR SOVEREIGN LADY, HOLEE JINX!

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  • NotMyProblem:

    Just trying to understand this; After June 1, Circuit Breaker will be lifted to Phase 1. After 4 weeks, Phase 2 kicks in for few months (don’t know how long) then Phase 3 until vaccines found. No vaccines, no complete lifting of restriction.

    But safe distancing is the restriction that kills businesses. How hawkers centers going to do business with only take-away? PAP must know not all offices have pantry/place for meals! There are jobs involve moving around too! Where are these people going to eat? What happens to DORSCON, what color?

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  • NotMyProblem:

    There are 3 important events after circuit breaker.

    First, the NDP which will be virtual on TV. This is Ok. Like all previous NDPs, it is just showing some black and white old photos and some one shouting “merdeka”. All PAP’s propaganda and fanfare. This can do without any problem, saving money for sponsors on goodie bags and saving on logistic. This is only a feel-good event.

    The second event is the F1 night race at end September. Organiser already expressed objection to close-door event, without spectators. So no spectators, no F1. Our government needs this event too, to open airport for in-coming flights. Also needs to fill up hotels and F & B businesses. Tourism Board needs to collect levies too. But the tricky part is the lifting of all restrictions for spectators. This cannot be allowed now. It can only be announced after the coming Pandemic General Election.

    Now the third event, the Pandemic General Election (PGE). When? You ask.

    F1′s organiser needs about at least one and half month to prepare for the event. So it needs to know by mid-August if the restriction can be lifted for spectators. But the current Covid-19 restriction is a disadvantage for the Alternative Parties. It restricts the size of rallies, limits face-to-face interaction and outreach with voters, etc. Lifting the restriction for F1 means lifting the restriction for PGE.

    So PGE has to be before the F1 event. Covid-19 restriction would still be in place for PGE. After the election, the restriction could be lifted for F1.

    So election is best held after NDP, the feel-good period! Best bet will be mid-August.

    After election, JT can throw the Covid-19 ball she is carrying. Foreigner workers facilities could be dismantled and FWs can return to thier dormintories. What ever Covid-19, let someone else take over. JT could become a Minister without portfolio.

    My foresight is 80-90% accurate. Want to bet?

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  • Yee:

    A doctor is a doctor. Isn’t a doctor better than electrical engineer as health minister? Don’t expect every cabinet to have epidemiologist. Make do, optimise resources…that’s the point.

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  • CITIZEN:

    You have missed one “GREAT” Leader, the GREAT MATHEMATICIAN who is good in BIG and HIGH numbers.

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  • Don:

    Would we prefer to hear medical advice from an engineer or economist or from a doctor? The answer is obvious. Even a non specialist in diseases is better than a specialist in circuit breakers. Tio boh? Augustine is right in that sense.

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  • WakeupSG:

    @Realistically

    Ng Eng Hen was a breast surgeon.

    The right person should be Prof Paul Tambyah

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  • Zero Crisis:

    Taiwan Japan SKorea –their leaders will have to handle at least one crisis per year; maybe typhoon, earthquake, political mass gathering…
    Our so-called leaders sit in Ivory Towers.The last crisis was SARS–handled by a different team.
    Heck, they do not even have to answer Parly question if they choose not to.
    So simply, 4G, 3G —they were never tested.
    Good at passing exams using 10-year series does not a good leader make.
    Blame who—First Emperor of Singapore; he set up a system where only the YES-men can rise; all opponents neutered!

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  • AristoCATs - Strategy ?:

    The writer is spot on.
    -

    Of course, the “Boy General” has recently been missing in action – from conference call.

    * An early big boo-boo calling “Early Shoppers” Idiots
    * Mask Distribution that was in fact a shortage mess.
    * Talking about strategy that was neither clear nor effective
    -

    Please excuse their inExperience . . .

    Some have promised to learn
    the difference – “effort” vs “result” . . .

    -
    So, Please remember the Ballot Box !

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  • Don't play play lah:

    NotMyProblem:
    Just trying to understand this; After June 1, Circuit Breaker will be lifted to Phase 1. After 4 weeks, Phase 2 kicks in for few months (don’t know how long) then Phase 3 until vaccines found. No vaccines, no complete lifting of restriction.

    But safe distancing is the restriction that kills businesses. How hawkers centers going to do business with only take-away? PAP must know not all offices have pantry/place for meals! There are jobs involve moving around too! Where are these people going to eat? What happens to DORSCON, what color?

    So confusing!

    Why not say CB being extended with some restrictions relaxed. Sound like we have exited but in reality, they’re not much different or looking forward to.

    Phases 1, 2 and 3 are now thrown in like there is no light at the end of the tunnel.

    Wake up!

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  • REGIME CHANGE is the solution:

    Another compelling reason for regime change.

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  • Michael:

    Pap handle the virus very badly for the workers. Their actions are also slow compared to other countries. Taiwan has one if the world capable ministry. Vote for capable person to lead Singapore is your next priority if you get one.

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  • Realistically:

    @ WakeupSG:
    May 21, 2020 at 2:05 pm (Quote)

    “Ng Eng Hen was a breast surgeon. ”

    From the Singapore Parliament website on Ng Eng Hen:

    1992 American Society of Surgical Oncology
    1998 Founder Member, Breast Cancer Foundation, Singapore
    1999 American Society of Clinical Oncology

    By the way, “breast surgeon” in the context of Ng Eng Hen refers to a that of a WOMAN ie Gynecological. You might want to know that MEN also suffer from ‘breast’ cancer which I believe Ng Eng Hen was NOT specialised in.

    Oncology refers to a specialist in the diagnosis/treatment/management of a CANCER patient………..that Ng Eng Hen’s specialty as extracted from the MP list stated above clearly shows that he was a gynecological oncologist, NO?

    “The right person should be Prof Paul Tambyah”

    Agree absolutely. I’ve been stating that Prof Thambyah is, to me, the ONLY one in Singapore who has the knowledge and expertise on infectious disease of which COVID-19 is just the most damaging……since the very beginning of the pandamic.

    As I hv repeatedly stated it is the BANKRUPTCY policy of the emperor without clothes which is the main problem NOT only in the handling of the COVID-19 outbreak, BUT also on the all the other aspects of the economy and the politics which is self-serving and self-centred to the emperor without clothes and his immediate family even against his own siblings and parents.

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