Forum: The world has changed with the pandemic. Can Singapore?

The spike of Covid 19 infections among our foreign workers living in cramped and poorly-ventilated dormitories has exposed not only the country’s addiction to and exploitation of low-wage workers. It has also put the spotlight on the inequitable social and political structure on which the Singapore economy is built. This has led to the emergence of a growing population of the working poor and also the elderly poor, even as the country positions itself as one of the world’s wealthiest nations.

The SDP is organising an online forum titled “The world has changed with the pandemic. Can Singapore?”

Live stream:
Date: Saturday 23 May 2020
Time: 2 p.m.

Post your questions for our panellists during the live streaming. Set up a watch party.

The speakers are:
1) Constance Singam
2) Alfian Sa’at
3) Kirsten Han
4) Tan Tarn How
5) Prof Paul Tambyah (moderator)

Speakers’ bios
Constance Singam
is a writer and civil society activist. In the last 35 years, Constance has led women’s organisations, AWARE and the Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations, co-founded civil society groups TWC1, TWC2 and TWC3, and has been a columnist for various national newspapers and publications. Her works include co-editing A history of the TWC: Building Social Space in Singapore, Re-Presenting Singapore Women and The Art of Advocacy in Singapore and two memoirs Where I was: A Memoir from the Margins and Never Leave Town without Chilli Sauce. She blogs at

Alfian Sa’at
is a poet, writer and playwright. His published works include three collections of poetry, ‘One Fierce Hour’, ‘A History of Amnesia’ and ‘The Invisible Manuscript’, a collection of short stories, ‘Corridor’, a collection of flash fiction, ‘Malay Sketches’, three collections of plays as well as the published play ‘Cooling Off Day’. Alfian has won Best Original Script at the Life! Theatre Awards four times. In 2001, he won the Golden Point Award for Poetry as well as the National Arts Council Young Artist Award for Literature. He has also been nominated for the Singapore Literature Prize three times, for ‘Corridor’ (1999, Commendation Prize), ‘A History of Amnesia’ (2004) and his translation of the novel ‘The Widower’ (2016). His plays and short stories have been translated into German, Swedish, Danish and Japanese.

Kirsten Han
is a Singaporean freelance journalist and curator of the newsletter We, The Citizens. Her work often revolves around the themes of social justice, human rights, politics and democracy, with bylines in publications like The Guardian, The New York Times, The Washington Post and Foreign Policy. She received an Honourable Mention from the World Justice Project’s Anthony Lewis Prize for Exceptional Rule of Law Journalism in 2018, and a Human Rights Press Award for her commentaries on “fake news” and freedom of expression in 2019. Her essay, “The Silhouette of Oppression”, was published by Epigram Books in 2019. Kirsten is also a founding member of We Believe in Second Chances, a group advocating for the abolition of the death penalty in Singapore.

We, The Citizens can be found at

Tan Tarn How
is a playwright and arts activist. He is also author of the children’s adventure series The Sengkang Snoopers. A former journalist with The Straits Times for 16 years, he blogs at

Paul Ananth Tambyah
is currently Chairman of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP). He was a founding member of the human rights organization MARUAH, and has been active in civil society for the last two decades. He is an academic infectious diseases physician and Professor of Medicine at a leading local university. He is also President of the Asia Pacific Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infection, the leading infectious diseases society in the region. He has published widely on healthcare reform and social justice issues, including migrant worker rights and the rights of people living with HIV and AIDS.






19 Responses to “Forum: The world has changed with the pandemic. Can Singapore?”

  • patriot of TUMASIK:

    Cathrine Lim should be included in the panel a very Non-partisan and “Thinking” Patriot!!!

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  • Soccerbetting2:

    Reported on TNP website :Quote – “In the second such case in four days, another group of people were spotted in a gathering, this time at a Marine Parade carpark, allegedly to gamble illegally.

    Chinese-language newspaper Shin Min Daily News reported yesterday that about 25 men were seen at a carpark at Block 57 Marine Parade Road allegedly betting.

    Several were standing in small groups while others sat around. Most were holding their mobile phones and believed to be watching a video clip.

    Shin Min also reported that there were beer bottles and food items next to them, and most did not maintain a safe distance of 1m from one another.

    A resident who wanted to be known only as Miss Guo, told Shin Min the gathering takes place at least three days a week.

    She said: “There will be a bigger group on Wednesdays and during the weekends. And they will be watching videos of horse racing or football matches with the volume turned up loud.”

    4 incidents in a day but cases of serious hurt and rioting down this year, say police
    May 22, 2020
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    A cleaner, who wanted to be known only as Mr Zhuo, said the group would sometimes appear at 1pm and stay for at least four hours.

    The authorities should put a stop to this, he added.

    Shin Min reported that some people went had gone up to another man standing near a fruit stall and passed him money, although there was no visible transaction of any goods.

    Mr Zhuo added that the group used to gather near the wet market at Block 50A Marine Terrace but moved to the carpark recently.

    Shin Min also reported previously that a group of about 40 people were gathering at a bus stop in Marsiling for alleged gambling activities.

    In response to media queries, the police said they are aware of illegal gambling activities and will be taking enforcement actions against such activities, including possible breaches of safe distancing measures.

    The police said:”Members of the public should lodge a police report if they have witnessed illegal gambling activities.”"Unquote.

    Response : Singapore Pool online closed during cb. So isn’t it good time for illegal betting to take rise? I only bet with Singapore Pool only.

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  • Soccerbetting2:

    Source from Straits Times website :Quote – “The Straits Times app

    India reports biggest 24-hour rise in coronavirus cases as lockdown eases

    Rules in areas with lower numbers of cases were relaxed.PHOTO: EPA-EFE
    MUMBAI (REUTERS) – India registered some 6,000 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Friday (May 22), the country’s biggest jump in 24 hours, as New Delhi eases a nationwide lockdown and airlines prepare to resume some domestic flights.

    The country of 1.3 billion people reported a total of over 118,000 confirmed cases on Friday, a roughly 5 per cent increase from Thursday’s figures. Included in the total are 3,583 deaths.

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi has extended a lockdown, begun on March 25, to May 31, but relaxed rules in areas with lower numbers of cases and allowed state governments to issue their own guidelines on some matters.

    India’s airlines will be allowed to resume flights with about a third of operations as of Monday, but only on domestic routes and under rules that are among the strictest in the world.

    “This surge in cases has happened after movement of people has been partially allowed. But if you see overall, this is a much lower exponential trajectory as compared to the rest of the world,” said Giridhar Babu, a professor of epidemiology with the Public Health Foundation of India.

    “The only question now is: How do you reduce mortality? Do we have the capacity? The answer seems to be yes,” Babu added.

    India’s contagion hotspots include the capital New Delhi, financial hub Mumbai, Modi’s home state of Gujarat, and the southern state of Tamil Nadu.

    “Our Covid wards have been full for the past week, and we are expanding capacity to enable us to admit more patients,”said Dr. Lancelot Pinto, a respirologist at the P. D. Hinduja Hospital in Mumbai.” Unquote.

    Response :”India registered some 6,000 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Friday (May 22), the country’s biggest jump in 24 hours…” Singapore should wake up to stop the importation of Indians into Singapore. You all see the sudden steep surge in corona virus in India in 24 hours. That is alarming! India don’t have the brain like the China to solve corona virus. Singapore should send those Indian foreigners back to India, don’t forget to send Tharman, Kasisviswanathan Shanmugam, Indranee Rajah, Janil Puthucheary, Halimah Yacob and all their families members back to India to stay there and check the Corona virus cases there for us for five years. Oops, I make a “genuine” mistake. Halimah Yacob is a “Malay” status not an “Indian”. Singaporeans will be all dead if those corona virus foreigners Indians come to spread over to Singapore.

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  • Top Money for Top Talents:

    Dear All,
    Our founding father LKY had already said. Singaporeans had become less striving and less hard driving and if the spurs are not stuck in their hide, it is their business.

    What LKY said is very true.

    For example, there are 6 chicken rice stall in a market.

    Is it PAP duty to ensure that the 6 chicken rice stall get the same number of customers and profit ? Hell, no.

    For example, If 4 of the stall are lazy and unmotivated and do not bother to make quality chicken rice with XO, it is their fault that their business is bad and make no profit.

    The same theory apply to the lazy and unmotivated Singaporean workers. It is their fault that they are retrenched due to their poor and bo chap attitude.

    Go ask Gilbert Goh. He had been conned by many lazy and unmotivated Singaporeans.


    Majullah $PAP$ $PAP$ Huat$ Huat$ Huat$
    Singaporeans must be Cheaper, Better, Faster.
    Workers must accept wage sacrifices to keep businesses going.

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  • oxygen:

    HOW DO YOU RESTRUCTURE AN ECONOMY QUICKLY when Raffles Place/Shenton Way is silently deserting of commercial and retail business, Orchard Road is dying into red-light at night and THE REST OF THE COUNTRY IS ONE BIG CONSTRUCTION SITE. And any activity associated with “construction” is like leper now – never mind it is condo construction or retail commercial space or infrastructure or white elephants like Changi Jewel and T5. Changi Airport is like a deserted old abandoned bus-stop.

    It is like an UGLY NO BEAUTY putting on a tonne of pastry make-up worry about caught in the rain of perpetual stormy equatorial weather.

    THIS IS THE ACHIEVEMENT OF 3G outstanding scholarly achievement of – our economy has MAXED OUT AND THE POPULATION RECYCLING ECONOMICS under the barely disguised Population White Paper incinerated by the pandemic outbreak.

    Too bad, the Covid-19 pandemic have beaten them to the election date. 4Gs are fumbling fools. The rest can clearly see the “visible achievements” described above of A DISINTEGRATED ECONOMY of 3G dilapidated construction.

    I feel sorry for the 30%, the other 70% deserves absolutely what they voted for.

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  • Sg is doomed:

    Another way of asking the question is,

    Can the 70% sheep change?

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  • Elcb:

    Got covid.

    Gov.itself ownsef want chain.

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  • Harder Truths:

    Can $G survive the post-CoVID world?

    Short answer : No
    Long answer : No

    Only real people will survive – not sheep.

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  • Realistically:

    If I remember correctly, Constance Singham had written a piece calling on some discredited politicians to remain behind the scene. I hope she repeats her call in the overall interest of SINKaPOOR and sinkies and also to call out those who are self-werving, insincere and only after the $16k MP allowance with their s*ake oil offering of populist measures which are unsustainable ezpecially their total ignorance of the root cause of SINKaPOOR’s problems and the functioning of our economy.

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  • Quo Vadis Opposition?:

    Another way to put it is:

    1. If even the Biggest Crisis in the history of mankind cannot change Singaporeans, Nothing can. All of us will have died and these 70% jokers continue to note the same way. I expect 80-85% this time due to crisis which Always benefit the Incumbent as proven worldwide and the billions using our reserves spent giving out money. Our reserves.

    2. If this crisis cannot take China to task, China will over take USA.

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  • Quo Vadis Opposition?:

    Despite the biggest crisis and dormitory fiasco exposing the failures in multiple policies, we all know that SG the republic cannot survive on its own without these cheap labor. SG has among the highest densities of banglas employed per capital. For political correctness we cannot say it’s exploiting. Also cannot say system largely based on connections with no true entrepreneurship.

    Even the biggest crisis proves nothing significant will change. It’s gone farked!

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  • Key is Election Agents:

    Sg is doomed:
    Another way of asking the question is,

    Can the 70% sheep change?

    The Key lies with Election Agents. Wink.

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  • trublu:

    Like it or not,we have got to CHANGE.
    At least,BECOME MORE SINGAPOREAN again,not wallow as SINKINGpooReans?


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  • Hurray SDP !!:

    I attended the Live streaming yesterday. There were many participants and it was very encouraging to listen to the frank and open discussions.

    Thank you Constance Singam, Alfian Sa’at, Kirsten Han, Tan Tarn How and most importantly Prof Paul Tambyah (moderator).

    It’s a very good way of having frank and open discussions on Singapore and our challenges we face as Singaporeans. SDP is doing what the Worker’s Party should have done all these, despite being around in Parliament for last 20 yrs.

    SDP’s community outreach programmes have been well received and adored.
    Thanks to Dr Chee and his dedicated team who are expected to be our voices in Parliament after the election. SDP must win.

    Singaporeans, please vote for SDP in whichever constituency they stand for in this coming election.

    Hope Worker’s Party is doing enough to safeguard Aljunied GRC and WP held SMCs from being snatched way by any Lighting party. Don’t be over-confident.

    “Trust is not what you say, it’s what you do”…..Dr Chee

    Thank you SDP.

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  • MarBowling:

    Sg is doomed:
    May 22, 2020 at 10:14 pm (Quote)
    Another way of asking the question is,

    Can the 70% sheep change?

    Response: 101% the 70% sheep WILL NOT CHANGE! Maybe ANOTHER 10% will JOIN THEM,

    How come like THAT? THINK the 70% plus the 10% STILL THINK THAT WITHOUT the PAPIGS, SinKapore will be in DEEP SHITS aftermath Covid 19. MAIN REASON behind their WARP THINKING: ONLY WITH THE PAPIGS STILL IN POWER WOULD THE VALUE OF THEIR PRIZED POSSESSIONS(Highly inflated price HDB flats, EC, Private Condo and Properties)REMAIN STABLE AND LATER ON INCREASE AGAIN! Period. Most of these folks are PREDICTING and CONFIDENT that should there be a FALL in VALUE, the REDUCTION is MINIMAL and ONLY FOR A VERY SHORT AND NOT LOONG TERM! Like the GREAT saying: A Leopard WILL NEVER NEVER CHANGE ITS SPOT! Only Heaven and the Barn Owl can MAKE THEM CHANGE!

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  • tst:

    It appears that the low wage Singporean worker is left out in the cold with no one to lobby for their interest. Living examples are the lady with a pull trolley who walk the estates in rain and sun to distribute newspapers. SPH is a billion $ company who has abandoned this lady. Don’t tell me it is the distributor appointed by them who is responsible. It can be incorporated in the terms of appointment. Another case in hand is the guy who pushes returned trolleys up the ramp at Cold Storage Jelita and NTUC Nex. Cold Storage is owned by the conglomerate Dairy Farm. Fancy NTUC who looks after workers interest allowing this to happen right under its nose.

    Singaporeans it is time to wake up and highlight the inequities in our system

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  • Spurmoogum Lee Darkwinder:

    The 70% need to be given instruction to vote for change. They keep waiting.

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  • People rarely Change:

    People Rarely change.
    So, I can prove easily why despite going through the largest crisis known to man, Singapore majority won’t change much. It will likely increase in numbers.

    1. Smokers do not quit smoking despite Covid damages to lungs. They are not frightened by it. Addiction is very powerful.

    2. The risks of infections do not stop singkies buying pearl tea.

    Singaporeans do not change.
    Their fate is eventual collapse of SG.
    Because the model is not sustainable.

    Cheap labor model: not sustainable.
    Cheap imports from China model: not sustainable.
    Reliance on China: not sustainable.

    Absolute Unquestioning trust model : not sustainable. What is produced are business men who are not entrepreneurs but import and sell products from China at the cheapest possible. This is not entrepreneurship.

    What is produced are citizenry behaving like soldiers waiting for instructions.
    The zombies demonstrated they lack even commonsense because they have gone accustomed to basing on instructions. They still have not discerned why the mask advisory was wrong and nothing to do with the virus being new because all that was needed was commonsense.

    The Dormitory fiasco is also something majority has yet discerned as a failure.

    Democracy can only work if the majority are wise. A wise majority can easily control a daft govt.

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  • Yes, indeed it has!:

    yes, it has indeed! It can all summed up by adding a MORE to all the p(q)ualities of PAPist nepotic Bs n their CBs aka plps, bootlickers aka BROWNnosers! Fakes now more fakes but to q(p)ofw(m)a, they r truths n correspondingly truths r fakes to the qofwa the winisters has usurped from the indep power division called the jnbiciary (judiciary). Bab pstlbs have devalued Singaporeans as bafts (datts) way below their erotic craze for $$$$. Children r pushed to be frontline test specimen in closing their erotic crazed $$$$ circuit with now Billions for the gorillasized scums to play footsies with the trumpians n kimlies n their moroic history making sewer network! Children becomes guinea pigs for testing their opacity [ circuit dreakers, u think n not making more gorilla holee for them to play trumpically in kimly fanaticism!
    So what r summed in the MORE. More nfi, more greedy not for service but for $$$, more fakes, more arrogant, more wayang, more time to rape SIN more thoroughhly ( impending call for GE despite the increasing number of infected case n death thru wrong test with more wayanf condolences) more banana more scums etc etc etc!
    On the other hand, what word can be used to sum the effects on the the non political activist 你Si你看i饿死? isMORE equally appropriates startingj with more daft to take shits n scums from the whitened depraved grace, an insult to the english vocab but of course pap dict means differently like accountability n conflict of interests in the legal sect.
    See TK wivh reversed qaq from 1st to 3rd world but then shrunk more fast into its shell n remained more mute.

    Tokyo has a relapse. Pray God nothing happens to the kids n if happens don’t be daft to be nice to these pstlbs who think that if they dont see Sinkies becomes like americans or hongkies, they can go on humiliating Sinkies like the more banana so getting to be McDonald nun bao bao kissing up to the white trashes

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