Happy birthday S’pore. You deserve a real birthday celebration.

09/08/2022

Dear country I love the most,

It’s must have been tough for you: witnessing the havoc wreaked by the Covid-19 pandemic on your people over the past two years or so.

To ward off the virus and protect Singaporeans, the Government rolled out the vaccination programme and implemented the safe management measures (SMMs), while keeping a keen eye on the economy.

People trusted the Government and stuck to the rules. A sharp sense of social responsibility swept across the island: we wore masks, took our jabs, stayed home and adhered to the number of friends we could meet for a meal.

Despite not able to throw the usual birthday bash for you in 2020, I could see a beautiful Singaporean identity taking shape amidst the savagery of Covid.

Then came 2021 – The year of Delta.

Just five months into Phase 3, we reverted back to Phase 2 in May and days later, the Phase 2 Heightened Alert (P2HA) was introduced, starting from May 16 to Jun 13.

Things got better but not for long.

More clusters popped up and we had to go back to P2HA from July 22 to Aug 18 – a painful reversion that erased the hard work we’ve done after the first P2HA.

We suffered as one.

To compound matters, the main National Day Parade that year was postponed to Aug 21, marking the first time that the parade was postponed in our history.

We took it in our stride and kept the faith with the Government and, more importantly, with fellow Singaporeans.

Despite the setbacks, the vaccination rate was improving by the day and proved to be one of the most efficient tools in our fight against Covid-19.

Another year flew by and here we are in 2022.

Today, you must be glad to know that we are one of the countries with the highest vaccination rate in the world.

We also survived the first Omicron wave in Jan and psychologically, the lowering of Dorscon level to Yellow did wonders.

This is because after two years mired in Orange, seeing it being lowered to Yellow showed us that things are working and we are on the right track.

That put us in good stead when dealing with the current BA.4 and BA.5 wave, which we endured with close to no SMMs.

A remarkable feat and an important juncture in our journey towards endemicity.

I’m fully aware that the end is not here yet for there will certainly be more mutations and the protection of vaccination will wane.

That’s why Health Minister Ong Ye Kung spoke about up-to-date vaccinations in Parliament on Aug 1.

“I have deliberately used the term ‘up-to-date’ vaccinations, rather than a second, third or fourth booster shot. This is because at some point, just like flu vaccinations, we will have to stop counting the number of jabs, or boosters we take. Instead, we must ensure that we get a jab at a suitable interval – may be nine months or a year. This is something MOH will try to determine in the coming months,” he explained.

Sounds like another major step of living with Covid-19, if you ask me.

He also highlighted the fact that with each wave, we are coping better. Besides not imposing further social restrictions or imposing border measures, our hospitals are generally able to cope better than the last wave.

“That means that the Singapore society, we have taken another major step forward in living with Covid-19 as an endemic disease. I think this is a big National Day present for all Singaporeans.”

Indeed.

Singapore, you deserve a proper birthday celebration this year. To see the crowds back at The Float is a wonderful sight.

But what’s truly wonderful is knowing that whatever wave or variant thrown at us in the future, Singaporeans are ready to face them.

Because we are bigger than our fears.

Because we are stronger together.

Happy 57th, Singapore.

Cover photo credit: Bing Hui Yau on Unsplash