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Starting today, you may notice that your unvaccinated colleague will no longer be seen in the workplace. Quietly, they have departed, soon to be conveniently forgotten. Unless they were able to pivot to exclusively off-site work, they would either have been placed on no-pay leave, or were asked or made to leave for good. In any event, they are no longer able to return to their workplace.

Their “crime”? Making their own personal risk-benefit analysis and arriving at a carefully considered decision not to vaccinate. I have argued in my previous 3 articles (see here, here and here) that vaccination is and must remain voluntary. This decision on the part of any individual involves a complex, multi-factorial weighing of benefits and risks, accompanied with value judgments, which differs from person to person depending on each one’s unique circumstances, and cannot be blindly supplanted by the risk-benefit analysis made on a collective / societal level.

Their “consequence”? Being stripped of their fundamental right to work, to protection against unemployment, and to support themselves and their families, so as to have an existence worthy of human dignity. I have previously argued forcefully that vaccine differentiation safe entry measures (“VDS”) (including preventing unvaccinated workers from returning to their workplace) is unreasonable and unconstitutional.

I grieve. For these workers and their families, some of whom may be driven to desperation or worse, potential destitution. I have sat and listened to some of their stories – looking straight at their anguished faces, as they shared their disbelief, the sense of utter powerlessness, their fears for tomorrow, and their worries about how to provide for their children and dependants. You can see the light of hope being snuffed out in their weary eyes. My heart breaks for them.

Abandoned by their leaders, shunned by society, and forsaken by their nation. Their pain is infinitely multiplied by these aspirational words (which though made in the context of a speech on identity politics, should be nevertheless generally applicable for the building of Singapore’s society) which now ring hollow:

“… as a society, we must continue to give all Singaporeans reason to hope and a fair chance to have a good life…

we will never let any group feel unheard, ignored or excluded. We will never let any group feel boxed in or ostracised. All must feel that they are part of the Singapore conversation; all must feel they are part of the Singapore family; all must feel there is hope for the future.”

Speech by Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong

at IPS-RSIS Conference

on New Tribalism and Identity Politics (23/11/21)

at [48], [52]

I grieve. Because what we are witnessing today, is largely enabled by the silence of many.

Of men and women, and associations and entities, in positions of power and influence, but not speaking up, for fear of being disapproved or disliked.

Today, we are witnessing a failure of democracy, and the dying of basic decency.

I grieve.

Yet, my grief compels me to speak up. And so I have, and so will I continue to do so.

It is my hope that what I have written (and will continue to write) provides much needed clarity to the issue.

And that my speaking up publicly provides you with the courage and conviction to do likewise.

So that collectively, we may give much needed hope to the hopeless, and their families.

Important Note: I am a pro-vaccination, fully vaccinated, concerned citizen of Singapore. Everyone, especially those who are older and vulnerable, should seriously consider the option of getting vaccinated to protect themselves from serious Covid or death. Nothing in this article shall be construed as encouraging anyone to remain unvaccinated or to downplay the seriousness of Covid for those who are more vulnerable to it. Nevertheless, it is of utmost importance that any decision to vaccinate must be made voluntarily, free from any duress or coercion.

Dominic Chan

* Image:

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