MP Seah Kian Peng explains visit to market after Facebook post on 'playing role of safe distancing ambassador'

MP Seah Kian Peng explains visit to market after Facebook post on 'playing role of safe distancing ambassador'

Seah Kian Peng safe distancing
Marine Parade GRC MP Seah Kian Peng posing with a vendor at a wet market he visited on Apr 26, 2020. (Photo: Facebook/Seah Kian Peng)

SINGAPORE: Member of Parliament Seah Kian Peng has explained why he was out and about at his constituency on Sunday (Apr 26), after netizens questioned his Facebook post that said he was "playing the role of a safe distancing ambassador".

The Marine Parade GRC MP raised eyebrows after he said that he spoke to residents at coffee shops and at a wet market.

Netizens questioned if he was keeping to stay-at-home requirements during the "circuit breaker" period, and some pointed out that he was without the red armbands and passes worn by safe distancing ambassadors.

Others noted that the People's Action Party had announced earlier this month that it would suspend ground engagements and face-to-face Meet-The-People sessions.

In response to CNA queries, Mr Seah said he has been working from home "almost the entire week", and that he was out on Sunday as he had to sign some documents at the community club.

"I also went to check on how things were at the two FairPrice supermarkets in vicinity (this is part of my job to find out from time to time how operations were and situation is on the ground)," said Mr Seah, who is also group CEO of NTUC FairPrice.

"At same time as I walked through the estate, I would pass by the kopitiams in (the) estate, wet market too. And I thus made those observations. At all times observing safe distancing rules. Based on what I saw, happy that things are all in order," he explained.

"One or two merchants in wet market had some feedback for me as well. All short conversations. Another two residents who saw me had some enquiries for me which I gave them my advice accordingly. All parties concerned observed the safe distancing rules."

As part of measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, authorities have asked residents to stay at home except for essential activities such as to buy food or groceries. Even then, people should go out alone and not in groups. It is compulsory to wear masks once they leave their homes.

Safe distancing ambassadors have been appointed to remind people of these rules. Those who do not comply will be issued a fine. 

READ: Thinner crowds at 4 wet markets with restricted entry; NEA says IC requirement to be enforced from Apr 24

In his Facebook post on Sunday, Mr Seah said he observed that compliance with safe distancing measures was high, and temperature screening and crowd control measures were in place at popular places like supermarkets and wet markets.

"Take care and stay safe," he wrote, adding hashtags like #socialdistancing and #walkabout.

Responding to online criticism of his post, Mr Seah told CNA on Monday: "I hope we don’t politicise this matter. It appears that some are clearly wanting to do so." 

He added: "If people want to volunteer as a SDA (safe distancing ambassador), it takes a few hours a day and some of them especially during the initial period had it rough. So it is work for them.

"Let’s focus on what we all need to do. And work as a team whether you are part of those providing essential services or WFH. If I can make a call out, I hope all of us make things easy for the essential workers and also SDA and let us continue to show our appreciation to all those who are going to work day in, day out to provide these essential services for us."

Another MP, Liang Eng Hwa of Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, also posted about being a safe distancing ambassador on Sunday. He was seen wearing a yellow vest like the other ambassadors.

Mr Liang wrote: "Joined as one of the Safe Distancing Ambassador (SDA) this evening. With the exception of a few, by and large residents are in compliant of the circuit breaker measures."


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Source: CNA/hm(gs)

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