Singapore Concludes Historic Elections But A Long Road To Recovery Lies Ahead

Despite an ongoing pandemic, Singapore has successfully pulled off GE2020 in the wee hours of Saturday (11 Jul) morning.

While we are finally pulling the curtains on this dramatic & tea-filled general election, our new Members of Parliament will have tough challenges lying ahead of them.

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Singapore is still seeing triple-number cases daily with jumps in community cases. From social-distancing measures to SafeEntry scans, these are just some of the things reminding us of Covid-19’s mark on our nation.

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2020 has taken many Singaporeans by surprise, with events that have completely erased our idea of what ‘normal’ looks like — from the onset of the Covid-19 outbreak, to living in a world where social distancing is the norm.

We take a look at some of the key issues laying in our path for the rest of this whirlwind of a year.

1. Covid-19 pandemic & upcoming recession

So far, Singaporeans have conquered a 2-month long Circuit Breaker and an equally agonising Phase 1 — especially for small homegrown F&Bs and businesses which had to shutter their outlets to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Though Phase 2 promises 5-people gatherings and deeply missed dine-ins, it is staying for the long haul until the pandemic recedes fully — and an ominous aftereffect is the shadow of a possible economic recession looming overhead.

With the end of the General Elections, we hope our new Parliament will be able to continue support for our heartland businesses.

But it’s also a common consensus that we need to direct our fullest attention to balance public health issues with our financial recovery.

2. Reopening our borders

Watching most of our planes stay grounded in Changi Airport & even in an Australian desert, was a heartbreaking sight as our national air carrier & airport remain the pride & joy of our nation.

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For many Singaporeans, Covid-19 also meant cancelled travel plans and postponed meetings with loved ones situated overseas.

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Reopening our borders is something that needs to happen eventually — tackling the when and how is the tricky part.

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However, we do need to achieve a balance between prioritising the safety of Singaporeans and encouraging global commerce before doing so.

As of Jul 2020, Singapore is in talks with Malaysia regarding the reopening of the causeway and will have a verdict by early Aug.

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Seeing the significant progress in the loosening of travel bans, hopefully, we’ll be able to embark on safe Johor Bahru weekend trips by end-2020.

Of course, Covid-19 is not the only health crisis we are battling.

3. Dengue

On top of Covid-19, Singapore has recorded 15,272 dengue cases in 2020, on its way to break 2013’s record for the highest number of infections.

A pretty worrying sign across the island emerged, with districts spotting their own dengue hotspots, evidenced by this infographic dated 10 Jun.

This also led to the National Environment Agency (NEA) releasing a series of advisories encouraging citizens to take adequate precautions in June.

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Though so, NEA has still uncovered cases of mosquito breeding, like this water feature filled with mosquito larvae below.

NEA Finds Hundreds Of Mosquito Larvae In Home, Warns Against Dengue From Breeding

Now, joining the fight against dengue is as crucial as protecting yourself from Covid-19. You can read more about what you can do here.

4. ‘Tis haze season once more

2020 could have one more card up its sleeve, hitting us with another big oof soon — the haze. According to reports regarding 700 fires, a potential haze might be blowing over from Indonesia in months to come.

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Checking PSI levels is no strange task to Singaporeans, who are affected by the haze during the Southwest monsoon season every year.

However, with all that is going on in 2020, haze is definitely not something locals would want to deal with.

The thought of switching out our surgical masks for N95s – just when we are starting to get used to it – is a stressful one.

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As forest fires in Sumatra rage on, we have no choice but to face the haze bravely. However, we can also take heart that it is a temporary episode even if it does arrive soon.

On the other hand, we do have some things on hand to be addressed ASAP.

5. Reconciling differences

2020 has been a year where social issues pertaining to race, religion and gender have surfaced to the fore of national consciousness.

The recent police reports made about Raeesah Khan from the Workers’ Party during GE2020 has shed light on the different ways we confront racism here in Singapore.

WP’s Raeesah Khan Apologises For Insensitive Remarks, Will Cooperate With Police Investigations

The ‘RI blackface incident‘ in June has also sparked discussion about micro-aggression against minorities, in turn encouraged greater sensitivities towards our fellow Singaporeans.

Ex-RI Students Apologise For ‘Blackface’ Incident After Alumnus Alfian Sa’at Shares Racial Experience

Though we are physically distant from events like Black Lives Matter in America, we have seen more youth taking to social media to stand as allies.

As a young nation, we are still navigating how to engage in healthy, constructive & inclusive debate about matters that pertain to race & social class.

However, it is a good sign that Singaporeans have been significantly vocal about such topics compared to before.

The increased level of engagement can be productive in igniting change, leaving us hopeful that 2020 can become the year of woke-ness; helping to reconcile emerging differences in society.

Our little Red Dot remains resilient

2020 has not been easy. With the slew of critical global events setting our nation on track for a financial recession far graver than SARS’ economic impact, Singapore has inevitably kicked into survival mode for the first half of the year.

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Given this context, some of us may have forgotten that Australia’s extensive bushfires and Hong Kong’s ongoing protest kicked off 2020 as well.

There is, however, no promise that it will be less difficult in the months to come.

But as much as there were moments of sadness in this trying year, there were also inspiring ones that showcased our Singapore spirit in full glory.

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Looking back, our little Red Dot has survived much more. If Singapore can be as resilient as it has always been, the challenges ahead would be no exception.

Despite all that lays ahead, we have a quiet kind of confidence that we can definitely survive 2020 as one nation — as long as we remain united.

Featured image adapted from Unsplash.