By: B Goode
As expected, the Zika epidemic has spread to other parts of Singapore with more than 100 people affected including an expectant mother. More terrible news await in the coming days and weeks.
Almost overnight, a tiny insect has managed to expose the gross incompetency and lackadaisical attitude of the government in tackling this issue. The people are terrified and are on the brink of a collective panic attack. No amount of government propaganda and information massaging can change this fact.
While Rome burns, Nero is taking a selfie.
What have the government done so far? Let’s count the ways:
- The Ministers are practically nowhere to be seen. In a war of any kind, we expect the leaders to be at the forefront, in the battlefield, in the trenches. Not in their air-conditioned ivory towers.
- The Environment Minister whose department, the NEA’s incompetency is causing the outbreak in the first place is seemingly oblivious. *More on this later.
- Teo Ser Luck has so far visited migrant workers’ dormitories to show his concerns for their welfare. Hello! Are we not humans too?
- MOH is giving free screening to expectant mothers who exhibit Zika symptoms when they (MOH) are the ones who said that some victims do not show any symptoms at all. Why not offer free screening to all expectant mothers and their family members? Do we have to wait for a Minister or a VVIP and their family members to get infected before the government release the necessary funds for free screening for all?
- The authorities are fogging all infected areas. What about areas that have not been affected? How about doing it for the whole island? In fire-fighting, which is what they are doing now, it is important to prevent the fire from spreading to other unaffected parts by spraying water on them.
Let me now focus my utter dismay at the NEA.
Zika virus is transmitted primarily by Aedes mosquitoes. The same type of mosquito that is responsible for Dengue. For years the NEA has seemingly embarked on a seemingly sustained campaign to eradicate mosquitoes. I said `seemingly’ because the results do not match the effort. The walk doesn’t match the talk. Despite decades of effort, dengue cases don’t seem to be abating. In fact, they are increasing. So either they are not doing what they say they have been doing, or their strategy has failed miserably.
The Zika outbreak started from a construction site. How difficult is it for the NEA to inspect construction sites? I imagine it to be very difficult. Was that the reason why either no inspection was done, or it was done cursorily? When was the last time the construction site in question was inspected? Was any mosquito breeding nests found? If yes, what was the action taken? If no, where did the mosquitoes come from?
In most condominiums, fogging is conducted on a weekly basis. I know because one of my rich friends stays in a condo.Why can’t the NEA impose certain kind of regulation on all Town Councils to do the same? Why can’t the NEA impose the same regulation on all construction sites?
If fingers need to be pointed, they should be pointed directly at the NEA for their decades of incompetency in combating the mosquitoes. They were very fast to point their fingers at the Indonesians for the haze. The Minister even asked to boycott the companies causing the haze.
But when it comes to the mosquitoes, the Minister is nowhere to be seen. Why didn’t he ask for the contractor to be punished and banned? Because that will be very difficult to do isn’t it?
If the Minister himself is not showing any interest in the issue, what can we expect from the people under him?
So the Zika virus is spreading worse than the forest fire in Riau. But there is another virus that is fast spreading within the bureaucracy.
It is called incompetency.