GE2020: Lawrence Wong refutes SDP chair Paul Tambyah's remarks on Covid-19 task force as 'baseless and false'

National Development Minister Lawrence Wong (left) also addressed Professor Paul Tambyah's remarks that the MOM was to blame for an advisory that asked employers not to get workers tested.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

National Development Minister Lawrence Wong has rebutted remarks by Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chairman Paul Tambyah that the multi-ministry Covid-19 task force did not rely on the advice of medical experts in its work.

Saying the allegations were "baseless and false", Mr Wong, who co-chairs the task force with Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, said on Sunday (July 5) that it has always relied on scientific evidence and the advice of medical experts in coming up with decisions.

"They are an integral part of the team, we involve them in all our deliberations, and every time Mr Gan Kim Yong and I hold the press conferences we have the director of medical services (Associate Professor Kenneth Mak) with us," he said, adding that this has been the case since the outbreak started.

Mr Wong also addressed Professor Tambyah's remarks that the Manpower Ministry (MOM) was to blame for an advisory that asked employers not to get workers tested.

He noted that the advisory was issued in February after an infection at Seletar Aerospace Park.

Many employers subsequently asked their workers to go to A&E departments in hospitals to get tested and certified Covid-19 negative so they could work.

"(Prof Tambyah) has got his facts wrong. It was not MOM that issued the advice unilaterally.

"Doctors and experts requested MOM to put out the advisory to employers," said Mr Wong, in an interview with reporters at the People's Action Party's Woodgrove branch in Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC.

"I fully respect (Prof) Tambyah as a leading expert in the field, but it is disappointing that he has chosen to distort facts just to score some political points," he added.

The minister said he was fully prepared for the SDP to do such a thing, but he had "expected better" of Prof Tambyah.

Singaporeans will ultimately "see and judge what we have done", said the minister, adding that Covid-19 infection rates have been kept low in the community, and major operations have been mounted in the foreign worker dormitories to test and clear all the workers.

"We are on track to completing this major task very soon... and importantly, we have kept our fatality rates in Singapore among the lowest in the world.

"These are the things we have focused on throughout this period."

When asked how much he is on the ground during the election campaign, Mr Wong replied that the work of the task force continues even during this period.

"So whatever spare time on top of that work, that's where I come in to the ground to meet my residents. That's the situation," he said.

"The work is important because we do not want to compromise at all, the work that we have done and the requirement to keep Singaporeans safe."

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This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.