S M Ong: Let’s cancel Chinese New Year
Dear Mr Lawrence Wong,
We met when you were campaigning in Yew Tee Square during last year's election.
I was the joker who asked you whether you were going to cry in Parliament again.
You said no.
I didn't get the chance to thank you for not having me arrested for harassment.
Don't worry. I'm not writing to you about your Ministry of Education's response to a transgender student's claim that the ministry interfered with her hormonal therapy.
I'm writing to you about something way less controversial.
I want you to cancel Chinese New Year.
But there's a good reason for it and not just because I hate giving out hongbao.
As you may be aware, there's a pandemic going on.
Remember last year, after Singapore had one confirmed case of the "Wuhan virus", we still carried on with Chinese New Year festivities like nothing happened?
How did that turn out?
We have had almost 60,000 cases and 29 deaths since then.
Businesses shut down. People lost their jobs. The Black Widow movie was delayed.
Even though we lohei-ed like we did every year, it clearly didn't work. Why do we keep doing it?
Don't you wish you could go back in time and start the circuit breaker before last Chinese New Year? How many cases could have been prevented?
On Friday, you announced that each household will be limited to eight visitors per day starting tomorrow, well ahead of Chinese New Year on Feb 12.
Did you decide on eight because it's a lucky number? How ox-picious of you.
But in light of the numerous breaches of safety measuresfrom the start, it's a given that covidiots will break the rules.
Some are already joking about gathering on the MRT where there's apparently no limit to the number of people.
With the worrying increase of community cases recently, you warned of growing complacency and said: "For every rule we set, please do not try and optimise your maximum gain around the rule as though this is something that you could, you know, gain some additional benefit out of."
But you know people are gonna.
You said there would be random spot checks, but how would the checkers know whether the eight visitors in the afternoon are the same from the eight visitors earlier in the day or later at night?
Will the checkers monitor households for 24 hours?
Or will you just access everyone's TraceTogether data?
At best, you can catch people breaking the rules only after the fact. By then, the damage would have been done.
A post-Chinese New Year coronavirus spike is almost inevitable.
And that's why you should just cancel Chinese New Year.
That is, no visiting allowed at all. It would be so much easier to enforce. No counting required. At any time of the day, zero visitors per household.
Neighbours would snitch on each other. And knowing your neighbour would snitch on you, you'd be afraid to sneak in any visitors. Ownself check ownself.
Drastic times call for drastic measures.
Yes, I understand that many will not accept the cancellation of Chinese New Year, but I suspect some may actually be relieved.
No more annoying questions from relatives you see once a year about when you're going to get married or have children. (I'm married with kids, so I'm not talking about myself.)
You can save money on new clothes and hongbao. You don't have to stock up on snacks for visitors. Maybe just for yourself.
It could be the most stress-free Chinese New Year ever.
All this plus preventing the spread of a deadly virus?
I mean, how could you not cancel Chinese New Year?
And the great thing is that even if you cancel it, there'll be another one next year.
The annoying relatives will probably still be there too.
As co-chair of the Covid-19 task force, you know what to do.
I await your announcement at the next virtual press conference, which will be soon, I hope.
We all want the pandemic to be over as quickly as possible.
We don't want it to end with tears in Parliament again, do you?