On 7th April, circuit breaker commenced in Singapore to slow the spread of COVID 19. Our routines were mothballed and we were requested to go into hibernation until 4th May. That was manageable, but then COVID exploded in the migrant workers dormitories and circuit breaker was extended until 2nd June.
Circuit breaker ended a week ago and we’re on our way towards the new normal. It’s coming in three phases; phase one – safe re-opening; phase two – safe transition and phase three – safe nation. We’re in phase one at the moment. It’s due to last a month but could be reduced to two weeks if community infection rates remain low and stable. They are at the moment but the next 7-10 days are critical. If there is a sudden spike we can expect a repeat of the swift and effective shutdown.
Socially, phase one is best described as timid. Grandparents can see their grandchildren and households can have up to two visitors from the same household per day. Social gatherings are still prohibited and we can only go shopping for essentials. Masks, as before, are obligatory except during strenuous walking, jogging or cycling. On the other hand, 75% of the economy is resuming operations. We can tell from the noticeable increase in traffic noise and the occasional thud of a pile-driver. It’s only in phase two that our lives will see a significant shift back to normal. At that point, 100% of retail shops and services will restart and we will be allowed to see up to five friends at a time.
With the world still grappling with a global pandemic, it’s been astonishing to see it knocked off the front pages by the murder of George Floyd. I haven’t watched the video because I’ve seen too much footage of police brutality since the savage beating of Rodney King back in 1991. Rioting and protests followed that too, but this is on a different scale. Trump’s response made a tense situation explosive but thank goodness wiser voices drowned out his brays for blood.
Whilst violence is always self-defeating, peaceful, disciplined, persistent, action-orientated and focused protests can work. The Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia in 1989 and the Civil Rights movement in America proved that, but what about these protests? I am optimistic. Even if the aims aren’t met now, ‘protests get people politically active,’ and that can have major repercussions from local to national level. That, coupled with the message, (however unfair), that silence makes you complicit, cannot be ignored. That message challenges you to examine what’s important to you and act on it. It urges you to be courageous, (a cloak few of us would embrace), and take a side.
That message had a direct impact on me this week. Of course I expressed my support for the protests, that was easy. What was less easy was putting the message into practice when I heard that Facebook, unlike Twitter, was not going to remove or label inflammatory content posted by President Trump. That message ate away at me. I had a choice, do I ignore it and carry on using Facebook or do I speak out? For years, I had ignored my concerns about its failure to protect users from criminals but the failure to flag up or remove inflammatory content was a step too far. I was not going to allow my silence to endorse the message that with great power comes no responsibility and I said as much when I announced that I was coming off Facebook and FB Messenger with immediate effect.
My decision hurts me far more than Mark Zuckerberg. I used Facebook daily and for some of my friends it was my only means of communication. I have directed them to my twitter account @LC43 but it is not the same as seeing photos of family and friends and I will miss them.
Now, I think it’s time for me to be silent for a while and give you the chance to hear other voices. I’m going to invite some of my friends to share their passions or stories in a guest blog. So watch this space and if I can get my act together, I’ll be introducing one of them on 19th June.
Until then, thank you for dropping by and continue to stay safe.
Love from Singapore