In his round up speech during the debate on the White Paper on Singapore’s Response to Covid-19, Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong highlighted the one element that was crucial in shaping the PAP Government’s response during the pandemic: trust.
He also highlighted that trust among citizens has strengthened and promised that the PAP Government “will work assiduously to preserve and strengthen it so that Singapore will always remain a high trust society”.
Below is an excerpt of his closing speech delivered on on Mar 21, 2023.
Finally, no matter the shape and form the next virus will take, there is one element that is crucial in shaping our response and that is trust.
Singaporeans trusted the Government to make the right decisions and to act in the best interest of Singapore and Singaporeans.
The Government did not take this trust for granted. We were open and honest throughout the crisis. We shared information candidly, even when things did not go well and even when we did not have complete information. This was essential so that Singaporeans could continue placing their trust in the Government.
Equally, if not more important, the trust amongst Singaporeans has been strengthened.
This is not the case in many other places where trust amongst the citizens had been declining even before Covid-19 and may even be at historic lows today post-crisis. And hence during the pandemic it was hard for these governments to implement tough Covid-19 measures.
After all, if trust is low, then people may say, “Why should I comply with your measures? Because if my neighbours or my friends are not complying then why should I do so?”
And so you can see this is what has happened in many other places: where there is little trust, public health becomes politicised and individualised, and the country’s pandemic response is quickly compromised and impaired.
Fortunately, social capital and trust have been high in Singapore over the decades and the silver lining in this terrible crisis is that social capital and trust have increased.
A post-Covid survey, or post-three year survey, commissioned by the Ministry of Communications and Information showed that social capital grew over the course of the pandemic, most notably trust amongst citizens strengthened.
More than seven in 10 Singapore residents felt that their relationships with their neighbours and friends remained the same or became stronger during the pandemic. A similar proportion of respondents were confident that the Government would know what to do in the future pandemic and that Singaporeans would help one another tide through the next crisis together.
We are heartened by these survey results.
This trust is extremely precious and we will work assiduously to preserve and strengthen it so that Singapore will always remain a high trust society.
Top image: MCI/YouTube