PAP halts canvassing after MP draws flak for food center meet-and-greet

A hawker poses with Member of Parliament Chia Shi-Lu on Sunday at the Alexandra Village Food Center. Photo: Chia Shi-Lu/Facebook
A hawker poses with Member of Parliament Chia Shi-Lu on Sunday at the Alexandra Village Food Center. Photo: Chia Shi-Lu/Facebook

The people making the rules seem to have gotten the hint that they should also follow them.

Singaporeans enduring a month of virtual lockdown have gotten the hang of myriad new safe-distancing rules – at least enough to call out a politician making a trip unnecessary to anything but his own electoral prospects.

MP Chia Shi-Lu, who represents Tanjong Pagar GRC, drew criticism after posting photos of himself socializing and handing out masks to hawkers Sunday in Bukit Merah while most of the country is cooped up at home. 

Under the rules, public or private gatherings of any size are prohibited, as are nonessential activities out of home. Confirmed coronavirus cases rose to 2,918 last night after Singapore reported 386 new infections.

Without referring to Chia’s Sunday walkabout, the ruling People’s Action Party last night announced it was suspending all “ground engagements” for the foreseeable future.

“The PAP will always serve you. However, as a result of the Circuit Breaker Control Orders we will unfortunately not be able to do our usual ground engagements such as market visits and home visits, nor be able to meet you face-to-face at our Meet-the-People Sessions,” the party announced via Facebook.

While no polling date has been announced for Singapore’s next parliamentary elections, they are expected to take place in the coming months. Due to coronavirus fears, however, opposition groups such as the Workers’ Party have already suspended ground campaigning.

On Sunday, Chia said he made a “quick trip” to the Alexandra Village Food Center to distribute face masks and see how the hawkers were managing amid the so-called circuit breaker period.

His blatant public socializing did not sit well with netizens, many of whom have been staying at home as much as possible to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. Singaporeans are only allowed to leave their homes for essential trips such as grocery runs until May 4 at the risk of S$300 (US$210) fines.

“I thought circuit breaking rules dictate that we should only go and buy food and essentials? Distributing masks, SOCIALISING and TALKING and TAKING PICTURES are allowed?” Facebook user Lewis Loh wrote in the comments. 

“I can’t believe you’re a medical doctor. Instead of obeying the circuit breaker laws which are to PROTECT the population and not overburden our healthcare frontlines, you went on a PR stunt under the pretext of giving out masks! What part of STAY HOME do you not understand?” another user named Gwen Chua said. 

Chia, who is also a doctor at the Singapore General Hospital, has not addressed the flak publicly. 

Other stories you should see:

MP put on blast for saying ‘it takes a virus’ to clear field of foreign workers
NTUC Foodfare ‘investigating’ workers who barefisted face masks

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