GE2020 not about individual, residents know COVID-19 a 'curveball': Manpower Minister Josephine Teo

Wan Ting Koh
·4-min read

SINGAPORE – An election is not about any individual, especially this “particular year”, said Manpower Minister Josephine Teo.

Speaking to reporters at the start of a walkabout at Blk 92 Whampoa Makan Place with the other People’s Action Party (PAP) candidates for Jalan Besar Group Representation Constituency (GRC), she said, “It is about our lives, our jobs, our future.”

To a question from Yahoo News Singapore on how the government’s handling of the COVID-19 situation, especially with regard to the widespread infection among foreign workers across dormitories, could have impacted voters’ impression of her, Teo said, “They will make up their own minds. It’s not as though we have not explained what went on.

“And, in fact, quite a lot of the residents I’ve met encouraged me and also said that it is a very difficult situation. COVID-19 is absolutely a curveball. No one expected this. We have to do the best we can.”

She acknowledged however that when “we examine everything that we have done... I’m sure we will find many valuable lesson learned”.

This, she added, is “the attitude that all of us bring to the table”. “Never stop doing better, never stop learning.”

Manpower Minister and PAP candidate for Jalan Besar GRC Josephine Teo (right) on a walkabout at Blk 92 Whampoa Makan Place. (Photo: Wan Ting Koh)
Manpower Minister and PAP candidate for Jalan Besar GRC Josephine Teo (right) on a walkabout at Blk 92 Whampoa Makan Place. (Photo: Wan Ting Koh)

Priority in initial months of COVID-19 was to look after S’poreans: Teo

Teo also addressed the opposition parties’ contention that, during the initial months of the COVID-19 pandemic, migrant workers were banned from going to seek treatment or be tested for the coronavirus at hospitals and clinics.

She explained that, during the period around February and March, the priority of the government was to look after Singaporeans.

“We were worried that if a large number of healthy foreign workers were allowed to go and be tested at the hospitals and clinics, would it affect how we look after Singaporeans?” she told reporters in Mandarin during the walkabout.

“Our priority was clear during that period, it was to look after the health of Singaporeans. Our hospitals could not be devoting the majority of their efforts to testing healthy workers, and compromise the process of treating Singaporeans.

“The opposition parties are twisting the facts; we never said foreign workers could not go and be tested. By now, our current testing process for foreign workers is the most extensive in the world.”

Lim Tean’s call for a referendum on her

Teo had been a Member of Parliament (MP) for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC since 2006. She was moved to helm the PAP team for Jalan Besar GRC, replacing Dr Yaacob Ibrahim. Her other team members are Senior Minister of State for Defence Heng Chee How, Central District Mayor Denise Phua and polytechnic senior lecturer Wan Rizal Wan Zakariah.

The PAP team will face opposition party Peoples Voice chief Lim Tean, blogger Leong Sze Hian, medical administrator and entrepreneur Michael Fang Amin and halal certification auditor Azlan Sulaiman.

During his walkabouts in the area, Lim, a lawyer, had called on residents to make the election a referendum on Teo, criticising her handling of the foreign worker dormitory situation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lim had said during a visit to Golden Mile Food Complex on Friday, “I think voters of Jalan Besar on the 10 July should use the vote as a referendum on Josephine Teo and whether they wish to have her lead the GRC.”

When asked about this however, Teo quipped, “I’m not that important.”

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