Overall, the Singaporean Prime Minister is a good communicator. He conveyed the message clearly and concisely. He sympathized with the feelings of the citizens and tried to alleviate fear and anxiety towards the infection with his speech. On the other hand, U.S. President Donald Trump emphasized mainly the country’s economy and financial support for patients during the outbreak period. Some of the important facts regarding the disease outbreak were not presented in the speech such as control strategies and current disease trends, etc.
PM Lee Hsien Loong
Be First: The Singaporean Prime Minister announced to the public within a short period (2 weeks) after the outbreak, elaborating on the new developments in the team with regular press. He also represented the current strategy they were tackling with the disease and how they would shift the strategy when the cases were rising in the future.
Be Right: He explained to the public where they were right now and heading to. They have experienced with SARS before, so they have prepared health resources including research and psychological support for COVID-19. He also gave reliable information about Covid-19 such as infectivity and mortality compared to SARS.
Be Credible: He admitted that the disease’s nature was evolving dynamically every day. Although most of the infections had been linked with imported cases, some new cases could not be traced to the source of infection. He gave his honest opinion about local infection in the population. He explained what they were doing right now about contact tracing. He let the public know in advance about the containment strategy if the cases were increasing with rising mild cases in the community.
Express Empathy: He sympathized with the feeling of citizens with overwhelming anxiety and shared the message that the country had enough supplies so that the citizens did not need to stockpile food and household supplies.
Promote action: He gave an example of dealing successfully with SARS once to motivate the public to pass through COVID-19 with similar energy and cooperation. Reducing activities in school, taking precautions for community gatherings, and postponing special annual events were part of the intervention. He provided a simple and short health message that everybody could understand the disease prevention measures. Those include promoting personal hygiene including washing hands and avoiding touching eyes and face, and measuring body measures body temperature regularly, if someone is ill, visiting a clinic.
Show respect: He consistently elaborates on his respectful communication in public announcements. He also paid attention to the fear of the citizens, but he compared the risk of fear with the virus to realize and relieve the exaggerated fear and panic of the citizens, instead building up a strong determination to fight against the disease.
President Donald Trump
Be first: He declared a public health emergency in the state to respond the COVID-19 effectively.
Be right: He presented health insurance for the treatment of COVID-19 and funding for the CDC to develop vaccines and to deliver medical supplies. He described high and low-risk groups of the population.
Be Credible: He made the promise he was not sure about the disease. He said that his administration would finally eliminate the infection and significantly reduce the threat to the people in the country. He claimed that the risk of infection was very, very low but it is highly doubtful that when there was a peak period, the situation would not be the same as the president mentioned.
Express empathy: He was proud of himself about his travel restriction from China and European countries and did not show sympathy for citizens outside of the country. His administration will support financial plans for workers with COVID-19 treatment, quarantined or caring for others with the disease. In addition, low-interest loans, and tax relief will be provided to small businesses and citizens respectively secure the health and safety of people. But he didn’t acknowledge the feelings of the people during the outbreak period.
Promote action: He highlighted the hygiene care to prevent the spread of infection such as washing your hands, cleaning surfaces, covering your face and mouth when you sneeze or cough, when people are sick, and staying home. He didn’t clearly state how a patient should proceed if they need health assistance at home.
Show respect: He showed no dignity and respect to people and patients with COVID-19 in other countries, especially in China and the EU. Thus, it created discrimination against the targeted population even within the country rooted in the knowledge the disease was coming from China and Chinese origin. He also accused the EU of the failure of prevention and control activities of the disease.