“Singaporean or not, people will want some form of security or peace of mind at time like this especially those with old forks and kids at home. So why we always wana label our fellow citizens those bad names? And how we know that those in q were all Singaporean? This is just simply human nature.” – an unfortunate Facebook comment.

No. Just NO.

The Novel Coronavirus took a month to arrive in Singapore from Wuhan. 17 days for local cases to outweigh imported cases (as of 9 February). But it took just hours after DORSCON was raised to Orange before all hell broke loose – Singapore style.

Even as profiteers emerged overnight faster than those for Jay Chou’s concert tickets, I thank businesses like Qoo10. Carousell and Lazada for clamping down on these unethical parasites (congrats though Director Bong). There’s really no reason anyone should be making THAT kind of money ($25 for a loaf of Gardenia bread are you serious Carouseller?)

Of course this can’t stop the more enterprising (hello carpark mask seller). But it’s okay, I’m sure hell will welcome your pioneering spirit.

But even after the paranoid hoarding, basket dumping, ostracism of healthcare workers, xenophobia and plentiful cases of profiteers, one can still chance upon comments like the above on social media. And for me, enough is enough.


Statements like the above only – as well-intentioned (I’m trying here) as they might be – are doing nothing but letting bad behaviour continue. You know what happens when you excuse spoiled children? THEY BECOME WORSE. (Supernanny told me so).

That one statement did it for me because it encapsulated 4 of the worst (yet popular) reasons people love to use to shift responsibility for their bad behaviour.

Let’s do like MC Hammer and break it down. (Best part: Solutions included.)

“Singaporean or not, people will want some form of security or peace of mind at time like this especially those with old forks and kids at home.

Ah, the “False Buddha” statement. Its close cousin is “I don’t want to return the trays because I’m providing jobs for the cleaners”. 

We all want to think of ourselves as good people of course. So we assume the role of saviours – even when nobody asked for it. But seriously, put that fork down. Know this – one good doesn’t negate a wrong. Good intentions can still send you to hell.

The problem with this is, if everyone did the same, then this is exactly what tilts the ship to sink. To illustrate this exponential disease, imagine if one person starting to hoard. It results in stocks disappearing from the shelves, and so more follow. This results in longer wait at lines. Soon even those who want to just get something for their daily grocery, end up getting more to justify the wait. One becomes a thousand, becomes a million, and a real crisis occurs, all because of a few. Now imagine the reverse, where everyone stopped such behaviour – powerful stuff.

Solution: If you want some peace of mind, get an Enya CD. But seriously, I can understand buying an extra few cans of food or some extra condoms (yay!) to reduce visits to the supermarket, but seriously, don’t excuse that auntie who carted back 50,000 instant noodles. Does she have a secret island of relatives waiting to be fed by her?

“So why we always wana label our fellow citizens those bad names?”

It’s called calling a spade a spade. If someone buys 100 toilet rolls, I’ll call him a selfish hoarder. Maybe if I call him a ******* ******* then it’s my bad, but being a “fellow citizen” doesn’t give you a free pass for being a nasty.

Solution: It’s time to call people out. Nicely. Don’t CB people straightaway. (I still love you though SGAG). But if someone around you is hoarding or disseminating paranoia and fear, stop them. (Unless you’re that lady who was giggling breathlessly about her full storeroom – I hope you hoarded the condoms in that ‘minimart’ because you really shouldn’t reproduce). 

“And how we know that those in q were all Singaporean?”

Because I have eyes and ears dammit. If the pictures and videos from the media isn’t clear enough, then it’s clear that you are X-rated (Xenophobic). This method of thrusting responsibility to another is pretty much the head-in-the-sand technique. The answer is clear, and the reasoning feeble.

Also, stop it if you say it is only uncles and aunties, or boomers doing this. You see all age groups in the madness.

Why does this hurt so much? By burying your brain to the truth, you allow the behaviour to persist. In this case, people continue to panic-buy, which flies in the face of what we need to do – avoid spending prolonged periods in a crowded space. (Just see what happened to those who went to Mustafa) That’s what raising the alert is all about folks!

Solution: Simple – don’t be a separatist. On any level.

“This is just simply human nature.” 

Really? REALLY? This is easily the worst excuse of the lot. I doubt even the Dalai Lama or the Pope themselves will admit to understanding what human nature is all about. 

This condescending and simplistic philosophy is not only cynical and destructive, but ultimately unsound. Again, by relegating a behaviour to instinct and shrugging your shoulders about it, you are encouraging inertia in cooperation, and a damaging species ethos. By its nature, it is a black hole and so an easy finish to any debate. But if you want to stand on the side of the nihilistic, then please go ahead. But please don’t take away my vote, thank you very much.

Solution: Ultimately, we need to believe in the community. We need to trust. We may not see it at the moment, but that’s why it’s all the more important to rally. Besides the couple at Punggol giving away masks, if you really need something to make you believe that we can help each others out, check out what Innotrek and Futuready did when they heard about mask profiteers. This is being triggered the right way folks!

By stopping these tired excuses, we start to look inward. And yes, maybe that is when we start to realise some of the things we are excusing are really not that great – initially for others, but ultimately for ourselves.

But the good thing is, it’s still early days. We can still make a big difference. As schmaltzy as it sounds, our best chance to pass through this with the least casualties is if we work together. So stop giving excuses for your behaviour. Stop making excuses for others’ bad behaviour. It’s time we all took ownership – however small we think it’s worth – and earn a little of what it means to be a citizen. The only excuse you should say is when you need to reach for that last box of condom and someone’s in your way.

Bonus! If you really want to be extra helpful, here are some other things you can do:

  • Don’t spread images of the paranoia on social media.
  • Don’t be a hobby virologist. It’s not a pandemic yet but it’s definitely an infodemic. Check your facts before you share info. And if you’re too busy to click and read beyond headlines, please quarantine yourself.
  • Practise good hygiene. Don’t glare at people who don’t – wait the germs fly into your eyes how? Just tell them nicely.
  • Don’t just make fun of bad behaviour online. Comment (nicely), or speak up for others (such as those in the healthcare and service industry).
  • Do small acts to help. It could be anything from passing some masks to an elderly who can’t collect the government issue. Or reminding someone to dispose their masks properly, nicely.
  • Smile. Even through the mask, we can tell, and it makes the world a better place.
  • Share this article if you think it was nubbad. 😛

One Comment Add yours

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