‘Home’ singalong criticized as empty distraction from meaningful action

Public housing flats in Singapore. Photo: Coconuts
Public housing flats in Singapore. Photo: Coconuts

As surging COVID-19 cases strain Singapore’s healthcare system and migrant workers bear the brunt of terrifying pandemic conditions, a government-supported feel-good campaign urging a nationwide singalong seems a little out of place, with dozens questioning its purpose and calling it a distraction.

Contrasting the glee expressed by many over Saturday’s star-studded singalong, others have shot it down as a wishy-washy, empty gesture designed for optics instead of tangible results.

“I still don’t understand, why don’t we just raise the salaries of our healthcare workers instead of wasting time and effort on these feel-good, ineffective gestures?” a woman named Saza Faradilla wrote on the government portal’s page. 

In a bid more likely to assuage collective guilt over failure to safeguard their most vulnerable neighbors, celebrities including Singapore Idol Taufik Batisah, composer Dick Lee, and radio DJ Vernetta Lopez will lead a mass singalong of patriotic anthem Home at 7:55pm on Saturday to “show our appreciation to our frontline workers, migrant workers and all of you staying at home.”

Participants are encouraged to flash torches at the window and post videos of themselves singing to social media to increase the chances of having the footage televised on various streaming platforms.

It’s unclear how catching a glimpse of oneself on screen will do anything for embattled health care workers or sick patients, but then again it’s something new to do on Saturday night.

Some said the campaign was a deliberate attempt to distract people from the embarrassing issues that have surfaced due to the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly the dire living conditions of migrant workers. 

“If by singing helps to show [appreciation] to the frontline workers and the migrant workers? All they need is us doing the right things! Stay home for the frontline workers. And do the right things and correcting our wrongdoings and to provide better living condition for the migrant workers,” a Dannah Lam chimed in. “Not all this actings to show support. Government. Time for you to wake up from your LA LA land. You are paid millions of dollars to do your job for our country people and citizens of the world.”

“These are all unnecessary distractions from the real problem. Stop the virus from spreading and recovery fast. We want our normal lives back,” Facebook user Fir Ida said. 

Instead of holding live karaoke sessions, some suggested raising the pay of those on the front line such as cleaners, medical workers, and those in public transportation. 

“What is the point of this gesture? Just double their pay and triple their year-end bonus,” a man named Gabriel Khoo said. 

More than 90% of Singapore’s new cases in the past week were found among migrant workers living in densely packed and poorly maintained dormitories. Singapore today reported 897 new cases, mostly involving dorm residents, taking the total number of known infections to 12,075. 

Editor’s note: This article has been updated with a different photo. 

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By the numbers, COVID’s exponential growth among migrant worker dorms made for 94% of cases in last week (Charts)

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