Pettiness has no place in pandemic times

I’m writing in response to the news story, ‘Over 52K people vaccinated in Brunei’, which appeared in the Bulletin yesterday.

I’m proud of the way my country has tackled the COVID-19 situation, especially with the inclusion of an opt-in programme last month to allow people outside of the first phase a chance to be inoculated earlier. The result is 12.7 per cent of the population having received at least one dose of the vaccine.

However, I would like to bring to focus an issue that surfaced during last month’s drive that I found severely lacking foresight.

The fact that our government is generous in providing free vaccination for all residing in the country should be a cause for celebration and a source of pride. Instead, some have shared their dissatisfaction on social media over the decision to treat both citizens and residents equally. They felt that foreigners should be made to pay for inoculation.

Reading these comments rubbed me the wrong way. As a citizen, I believe the fight to end the spread of coronavirus is a global one. There is surely no room to be petty over privileges, especially during pandemic times as serious as COVID-19. We should instead be grateful that our authorities are objective in their efforts to stem the tide.

Most importantly, not all foreign workers in the country hold a high-paying job. To discourage them from the vaccine by placing a price tag on it seems counterintuitive to what the goals our health authorities have for the nation, which is to safeguard the people against the invisible enemy.

The virus can’t tell the three colours of identity card apart. It doesn’t care if it’s a citizen or an “outsider”; it spreads the infection just the same. As locals, we should instead support the vision of closing the chapter on the current pandemic.

After all, we long for the borders to re-open soon, don’t we?

Local Observer