As the people continue to panic amidst the Covid-19 outbreak, supplies like toilet paper and foodstuff remain low because of the panic-buying that had been going on. This particular phenomenon has affected different countries across the globe, including the United States, Germany, Japan, and Australia.
Regarding this issue, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat made a comment during a radio interview on Money FM 89.3 on Wednesday (11 March), as mentioned on the Straits Times.
“First and foremost, we need to provide information as clearly as possible. Because when people trust the information that we put out is accurate, then there’s no need for that panic,” he said.
DPM Heng believed that by providing transparent and accurate information to the people, there would be no reason to panic. On top of that, it could also “build trust with our people”.
“So transparency is important in this regard, and building a high level of trust with our people,” he added.
Since Singapore’s Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (DORSCON) alert level had been raised from yellow to orange on 7 February, the supermarket shelves were emptied in a short span of one day. The people were mainly stocking up on essentials including instant noodles and rice, but toilet paper was the most wanted item of all.
DPM Heng explained that this behaviour is considered a natural human instinct when fear grows as uncertainties arise. This fear causes people to take actions that aren’t in their best interests in the long run, such as having too many rolls of toilet paper and many bags of rice.
This particular panic-buying issue was talked about on the radio when a question on how to promote psychological resilience among Singaporeans was thrown at him. Not only that panic-buying happens in Singapore, but also “in countries where we have such high respect for the resilience of the people”, said DPM Heng.
Besides the arising fear that caused people to act irrationally, DPM Heng also believed that it stemmed from a lack of trust. In this particular case, people had a hard time believing the accuracy of the number of infections that are reported.
When a crisis like this occurs, DPM Heng urged Singaporeans to support one another.
“If we can pull through together, support one another, we can deal with this. We just have to stay calm and carry on.”
Netizens are not buying it
Upon hearing DPM Heng’s opinion on transparency, netizens were unamused and thought there wasn’t enough transparency on the information given to the people. They believe that Singaporeans deserve the truth and are ultimately tired of living in fear because they are exposed to different versions of the news.
Teck Char and Phil Bhojwanay mentioned that the information being spread across the nation should be accurate instead of having different versions because people kept guessing what is really going on.
Many also believed that transparency meant revealing all traces of Covid-19 patients, including the places they travelled to, as well as the exact locations where the patients reside.
However, there were a notable few who applauded DPM Heng for explaining that panic-buying occurs out of fear instead of condemning these irrational acts. These comments referred to Minister Chan Chun Sing’s previous remarks that he was “ashamed” of this particular behaviour.
Although fear is inevitable, Doris Tan believed that staying united with one another is the best we can do to face the Covid-19 outbreak. Daryl Li and Chua Swee Hua had also agreed that what DPM Heng said would create a positive effect on the people, as opposed to Minister Chan’s denigration.