The World Economic Forum (WEF) was supposed to have their annual meeting in Singapore this August. However, because of the recent developments with the number of new COVID-19 cases and clusters in the country, the WEF decided to cancel the meeting.
“Regretfully, the tragic circumstances unfolding across geographies, an uncertain travel outlook, differing speeds of vaccination rollout and the uncertainty around new variants combine to make it impossible to realize a global meeting with business, government and civil society leaders from all over the world at the scale which was planned.”
– World Economic Forum
The annual meeting is usually held in Switzerland, but the organizers decided to relocate to Singapore as we were one of the world’s success stories in containing Covid-19. I thought that one of the reasons behind why the government wanted to roll out the vaccine as quickly as possible was to prepare for this global event that would place us on the map.
Unfortunately, with a tragic lack of foresight, our government was again one step too slow in closing our borders to high risk countries. We had to take another step backwards and go back into a pseudo-Circuit Breaker where we restrict some movements within the country but still leave our borders open.
Moreover, the WEF had to take the stand of cancelling the event. It doesn’t come as a surprise that WEF would choose to cancel the event, but what if WEF did not step up? Would our government have pushed for it to happen? Would we have allowed even more people to fly into the country while we are still seeing new clusters being formed?
“It was a difficult decision, particularly in view of the great interest of our partners to come together not just virtually but in person, and to contribute to a more resilient, more inclusive and more sustainable world… But ultimately the health and safety of everyone concerned is our highest priority.”
– Professor Klaus Schwab, the founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum
Personally, I am disappointed to say the least. At the start of COVID, we could blame it on the lack of experience when the government told everyone that masks were not mandatory. We could even say the same when we were too slow to close our borders to travelers from Wuhan, where the virus first emerged.
However, we no longer have this “lack of experience” as an excuse. We should have stopped travelers from South Asia. Now that it’s a little too late for that, we should have had a proper lockdown instead of this half hearted “heightened alert”.
We should also stop citing the economy as an excuse for why we cannot close our borders – if we had a proper lockdown, we would less likely need a second. Having multiple phases of circuit breakers only prolongs the descent of our economy – it doesn’t really do our economy any long term good. It also continues to put the health of Singaporeans at risk, especially when new strains of the viruses come in.
Where is the foresight that our government previously had? Even if we didn’t have foresight, where is the effort to learn from our not-so-old mistakes? Even if we forgot about our old mistakes, what happened to learning from our neighbors (like New Zealand)?
With a lot of disappointment,