From reuniting families to developing SafeEntry, new short films celebrate how Singapore responded to Covid-19 crisis

Fast officer Marcus waves to a quarantined migrant worker in the film In Safe Hands.
PHOTO: Screengrab/Gov.sg

Felt helpless when the Covid-19 pandemic first struck Singapore?

You would have shared sentiments with Clare Yeo, Senior Principal Clinical Psychologist at the Institute of Mental Health.

But after learning that some of her colleagues were going to the frontline, she was inspired to do the same.

“That made me feel like I needed to step up and help as well.”

Yeo and many other frontline workers’ stories are being told in a new short film series titled As One, an initiative by Viddsee and supported by Gov.sg.

Inspired by true stories, there are a total of four short films, each exploring a different challenge posed by the health crisis, such as developing the SafeEntry system, setting up the National Care hotline in only eight days, or caring for the well-being of migrant workers in dormitories. 

All four films include interviews with the people who had experienced the situation first-hand.

Ong Ling Lee is one of those people.

She was part of the Singapore Tourism Board team running dedicated stay-home notice (SHN) facilities to keep returning Singaporeans safe. 

The film Enjoy Your Stay illustrates the difficult position Singaporeans faced when returning to the country. 

They were cooped up in a new environment for 14 days, unable to return home.

In the seven-minute film, a couple reunite at the facility after staff worked behind the scenes to make it happen.

“It is very rewarding because a simple email, a short phone call could actually make a big difference in people’s lives,” Ong said.

She and her team had to work closely with external and government agencies to ensure that the rooms at the facilities were up and running, and that Singaporeans were comfortable.

From dealing with meal preferences to acting as a courier, they worked tirelessly to ensure everyone's concerns were being heard. 

A viewer of the film commented online: “The struggles the PSHNs (Persons on Stay-Home Notice) as well as the SHN Command Ops officers faced are real. It is really a tough experience for everyone but I am glad that we pulled through together as a nation.”

Aside from Singaporeans, migrant workers in dormitories also had to deal with the ‘new normal’. 

The eight-minute In Safe Hands addresses this.

It explores the story of the public officers who cared for these workers in such times of uncertainty, highlighting the bonds built in the communities. 

Two officers Marcus Lee and Gabriel Chong shared their experiences as part of the group that managed these dormitories.

Through their actions, they not only helped create the conditions for the migrant workers to return to work, but went above and beyond to spot the workers' needs.

For example, after noticing the workers were not adjusting well to the meals served at the dormitories, Lee called the caterers and asked for food changes so the workers felt more at home.

These small acts of kindness helped form a bond between them and made the difficult circumstances a little easier for the workers. 

Another viewer expressed his appreciation in a heartfelt comment: “To all the Marcuses and Gabriels and unsung heroes out there in the frontline, thank you all. To the producer and creator of this clip, thank you for reminding us what is being done to ensure that we can continue to live our lives the way we are doing now.

“And last but not least, thank you Singapore, for creating this safe haven for us when we see that so many countries elsewhere are still trying to cope with the situation.”

As the series title suggests, the short films were created to show that in dire times, Singaporeans can come together and combat it "as one".

“Virus does not distinguish between the rich, poor, colour of your skin, but I think it's only human of me to try to help another human being. It's only right, I don’t see any other way,” said Lee.

For the latest updates on the coronavirus, visit here.

annatan@asiaone.com