Caught with their pants down on the uncontrollable spread of Zika, MOH and PAP are again in damage control mode.
The threat of Zika was real even before the first imported case in May but the government threw caution to the wind.
7 months ago, Minister Masagos had already mentioned the 4-letter word when he said “If we can bring down the mosquito population, we will not only mitigate the problem of dengue, but we will at the same time prevent the spread of Zika.” link.
While it is extremely difficult to eradicate Zika, it doesn’t help when our unaccountable civil servants continue to react to issues.
The virus that causes dengue fever and Zika are carried by the same Aedes mosquito. NEA has been battling dengue for more than a decade but dengue cases have continued to rise, hitting a record high in 2013. So how will NEA curb Zika when it has failed to even reduce the number of dengue cases?
It would have been excusable for NEA if we have thousands of square miles of jungle terrain but Singapore is a 719 sq km concrete jungle.
Since the first case of locally-transmitted Zika was reported on 27 August, NEA has been making headlines, no guesses for what they have found. In the Aljunied Cresent/Sims Drive vicinity alone, there were 39 mosquito breeding habitats! Without Zika, these breeding sites would not have been detected.
How many mosquito breeding sites have gone undetected by NEA?
Were the thousands of dengue enthusiasts, grassroots members trained by PAP, all blind? Are Singaporeans really doing the Mozzie Wipeout or Singaporeans slowly kena wipeout?
Not only are our civil servants reactive, PAP MPs are similar. In 2014, PAP MP Zagy called for heavier penalties for construction companies found to have mosquito breeding sites. Again, this was only after the largest cluster was found in Zagy’s ward.
Despite a world record (per capita) of 22170 in 2013, the previous year, PAP MPs like Zagy were concerned only when they were affected, never mind if it wasn’t his ward.
The Chinese construction company involved, China Jingye Engineering, wasn’t fined the first time for mosquito breeding: it was the fourth time. Although it had previously been fined a total of more than $10000, the fine went into HDB’s pocket as “administrative charge”. This benefited nobody except HDB, a totally ineffective measure.
Did the financial cost to taxpayers and productivity loss amounted to only $10000?
Some pearls of wisdom from our million-dollar ministers.
MOS MOM Teo Ser Luck: “Prevention measures for Zika are not much different from dengue, so all these measures are supposed to be in place.” (So how come not in place?)
PM Lee (2 Sep): “Best way to curb Zika is to stop mosquito breeding.” (Best way to reduce MRT breakdowns is to stop operating MRT system?)
There has to be some accountability and we can’t afford to continue with the current reactive approach to tackling dengue. When civil servants have been sleeping on dengue, will they be able to curb Zika?