With Covid-19, Apathy Is A Luxury We Cannot Afford
Images by Marisse Caine. 

Last weekend, while everyone’s attention was focused on the ‘covidiots’ at Ikea, our photographer snapped a few pictures at Orchard Road.

At 11 PM, one auntie was still trying to sell tissue paper to passers-by. She did not have much success because the sidewalks were nearly empty, and most pedestrians kept to themselves.

Meanwhile, at Cuppage Plaza, young Singaporeans were enjoying their last hurrah before the ‘circuit-breaker’ began. Social distancing measures were in place, but surely I am not the only one who feels nervous when such crowded scenes start appearing on my social media feed. 

Supermarkets packed with shoppers. Winding queues outside Ikea or Toys ‘R’ Us. Potential clusters just waiting to blossom and kill.

There is, I think, a sense of learned helplessness that comes with the territory of being Singaporean. You say no to the casino. The Government says yes. You want Tharman as PM, but they give you 4G leadership instead. You were ready to vote for President Halimah, until some random committee swooped in and decided you must vote for President Halimah. At work, scholars leap-frog ahead of the so-called ‘farmers’, their careers paths already determined by some unseen higher power.

Over time, you come to feel that, as an individual, your actions have no impact on the country whatsoever. Nothing you say, think or do, will change things, whether for better or worse. The government is flying the plane. You are a passenger strapped in for the ride.

I don’t think this is entirely true. However, this is never less true than during the time of Covid-19. Your individual decisions, no matter how small, do matter. How you chose to act can mean the difference between a single infection (you) or a 50-person cluster requiring hundreds more to be quarantined and isolated. 

The government can only do so much. The rest is up to us. The tissue auntie doesn’t have a great many options, but we do. We can stay at home, eat regular non-Swedish meatballs, buy our booze from 7-eleven. We should choose wisely, because our choices have never mattered more.

Do you know people who aren’t staying home? What are you doing about it? Tell us at community@ricemedia.co.

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