A message from SIP’s Founder, Ms Penny Low.
“Dear all, the current coronavirus evoke much memory, and pls allow me to share a real story, with some thoughts on battling the current crisis. It’s a little long, but I’ll appreciate your patience.
I was at the frontline of the battle against SARS back in 2003. Back then, as a rookie Member of Parliament who just emerged from holding together Singapore’s multi-racial social fabric post 911, SARS was another test of our response, capability and character. Only this time, we were flying blind, not knowing what/who our enemy was.
We asked many questions and even simple things like should we still do handshakes? Nothing for ordinary folks but not doing so would cost us votes. Then very soon, we realised the severity of the situation. One of my residents became a victim and I visited her wake, where only her family was present, as she had to be cremated within 24 hours. Her family was both surprised and touched that we dared to visit. By then, we were out on the streets every day, teaching the right way to wash hands in multiple languages and dialects, distributing masks, taking temperatures of hawkers, commuters, passerby and strangers – knowing every second that we have put ourselves in a high risk category. One of my volunteers- a retired nurse told me “Ms Low, u don’t do it. You are young and if anything happens to you, it may cause a by-election. I’m old, let me do it.” If you’re in my shoes, you’ll understand that is tempting, especially since there’s 2 young children living under the same roof with me, and I have to isolate myself after doing all the temperature taking every day. But then again, if leaders do not have the courage and mettle to lead in times of uncertainty, then we are unworthy of our peoples’ confidence and trust. So I continued to stand in the frontline, to protect our people, knowing jolly well that anything can happen, and rewrote my will. And so did all my parliamentary colleagues.
As the days pass, we learnt more about SARS, and the appropriate measures. By then we have lost a few people whom we know personally, including our beloved top forensic doctor. Given the daily field trips, we have also witnessed first hand, the fear and rejection of those who have been quarantined or in the frontline, as well as the love of even strangers, who hung food outside the doors of those who have been quarantined, so they have enough to eat and know that they are being cared for. I know that I carried on the frontline fight, not just out of a sense of duty, but also because of the support of my grassroots volunteers and even no-name residents who send goodwill notes and tonics to my team.
Let’s face the crisis together, as a loving humanity. Many of our healthcare workers and volunteers (esp those in China) are at the battle against coronavirus now. Many are tired and maybe even fearful – for themselves, for their loved ones. They have put their lives at stake to protect public health. The least we can do, is to spread calm and accurate information. What we can do further, is to send them cheers, encouragement, loving messages electronically, or send them tonics, assistance(think about safety) and contribute meaningfully to the fight. I know and am sure that they will be warmed and encouraged by your acts, and pls do continue to cheer these heroes and heroines on, long after the fight.
Together, our positive and loving thoughts can conquer a lot more that we think.
Together, we can make a more inclusive, mindful and better world.
Thanks for allowing me to share. Please remember: the first line of defence is yourself. So do the right things – hand wash, mask if necessary, as per health advisory. Stay vigilant and be blessed.”