Yesterday, I sent out a story to Milo Peng Funders about NTU faculty members stranded abroad as the new academic year opens. Instead of being allowed to teach remotely — since many classes are being held online anyway — some academics have seen their classes cancelled, and they’ve been put on no-pay leave. Those granted compassionate leave are exempt from the ban on teaching remotely, but might only receive a portion of their salaries.
I’ve heard of academics employed by NUS and Yale-NUS also stuck outside Singapore, but didn’t manage to speak to enough of them to get a handle on the situation. While university policies like NTU’s aren’t helping, at the root of the problem is the opaque entry approvals system for long-term pass holders — something that I’d covered a year ago.
Fingers crossed, though, that yesterday’s government announcement will provide a glimmer of light for these stranded academics:
New Covid-19 rules incoming (again)!
Starting from 10 August, people who are fully vaccinated (i.e. it’s been 14 days since your second jab) will be allowed to eat at restaurants in groups of up to five (which means my chimaek gang is back in business yaassssss 🍻). Those who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated will still not be allowed to dine-in, except at open-air hawker centres and coffeeshops, where they’ll be able to eat in groups of up to two.
It’s okay if you didn’t get the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines that are under Singapore’s national vaccination programme. As long as you got a vaccine on the World Health Organisation’s emergency use list, you can be considered fully vaccinated. It’s also even easier to get vaccinated now: you don’t even have to make an appointment to get Moderna. If you’re aged 18 and above, just walk in to vaccination centres offering Moderna and they’ll get you sorted. They’re working on doing this at vaccination centres offering Pfizer too. Related: dating apps are letting you specify if you’re vaccinated or not.
Hospital visits have been banned until 18 August, unless the patient is very ill, a baby/child, a mother who is about to deliver/has just delivered, or a someone who needs additional support from a caregiver. I had some experience of how ward visitation restrictions can suck earlier this year, so my thoughts go out to all those out there who aren’t able to visit loved ones at this time.
The Ministry of Health has also apologised about some quarantine screw-ups. Over on Instagram, Bella Khaja has put together this helpful guide on what to do when you get a quarantine order.
Surveillance, surveillance everywhere
We currently have more than 90,000 police cameras scattered across this little island. Apparently, this isn’t enough: Minister for Home Affairs and Law, K Shanmugam, has announced that we will have at least 200,000 of ‘em by 2030. Wah lau eh.
This past week, many Singaporeans got the nasty shock of discovering that safe distancing enforcement officers can enter your home without a warrant to check if you’re in compliance with Covid-19 regulations. Important to note: safe distancing enforcement officers are n0t the same as safe distancing ambassadors (i.e. those people in red shirts who prowl around malls and shout at you for standing too close to the next person). Check out this explainer on the powers that enforcement officers have.
Parliament has also passed amendments to the Police Force Act, giving more powers to some officers. Officers from the Commercial Affairs Department, for instance, will be allowed to arrest individuals in possession of anything that is “reasonably suspected” to have been obtained fraudulently. Police officers will also be protected from liability for actions “done in good faith and with reasonable care”, even if these acts resulted in damage to property or injury.
Got some more…
🤬 A migrant domestic worker tried to run away from her employer’s home by going out the window, and fractured both her legs falling out of the second-storey window. The Ministry of Manpower then interviewed her about her “dangerous act” and used her as a cautionary tale for other domestic workers. If you’re wondering why they seem more concerned with the domestic worker’s “rash move” than asking what would make a person so desperate to escape their employers that they would go out a window… this is unfortunately not new. I’ve covered stories about domestic workers who hurt themselves escaping from their employers — sometimes because employers did things like lock them in a house or room — only to be told by MOM things along the lines of, “Oh, they went out the window because they were anxious to get a new employer.” Victim-blaming 101.
🧑🏻🏫 Students say that they’re more comfortable speaking to teachers they already know instead of counsellors, even if these counsellors are already stationed in their school. It doesn’t help that there’s still a stigma attached to seeing a counsellor. The Ministry of Education is looking into setting up a buddy system as part of a peer support programme.
👩🏻 AWARE has put out a statement about parliamentary speeches relating to gender equality. It reminded me that I forgot to link to their omnibus report on gender equality previously! Here it is.
⚖️ Professor Michael Hor will be talking about the death penalty in Singapore as part of Eleos Justice’s Conversation Series on 18 August at 11am. Register here.
🎭 This is a bit of self-promotion but if your brain needs a break I wrote a fun post about nonsense dramas over at my fun newsletter (fewsletter?), Samseng Zhabor.
Thank you for reading! Feel free to forward this on to anyone you think might be interested. 🙏🏼 Once again, a reminder that becoming a Milo Peng Funder is an awesome thing to do! You can also make a one-off contribution via my Ko-Fi page.
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