I refer to Mr Lee Teck Chuan’s letter of April 26, claiming an incorrect extrapolation of the prevalence of racism against foreign labour in Singapore. The Singapore government has indeed done well in safeguarding the lives and livelihood of migrant workers. But highlighting measures like protecting livelihoods, and providing food and SIM cards, does not justify the racist undercurrents, nor address a problem that some Singaporeans refuse to acknowledge. When the virus swept the cramped dormitories, social media was full of voices laying the blame on foreign workers, saying they came from cultures that had lower hygiene standards. Even more alarming was the lack of empathy. Some are reported to have said that the accommodation “met international standards”. Rights groups including Transient Workers Count Too had warned about the cramped living conditions. It was a problem the government overlooked, as Singapore was then riding high, lauded worldwide as having set the “ gold standard ” in its response to the pandemic. Ministers like Chan Chun Sing mocked Hong Kong back then. He might have been better off demonstrating some humility in knowing that the authoritarian government in Singapore isn’t perfect and is capable of mistakes too. How, then, did the infallible Singaporean government overlook warnings about crowded dormitories? “Thoughtful” Singaporeans might argue that governments cannot be held responsible for every wrong decision. I do agree. However, a healthy society needs checks and balances, not just a tough government. Such societies embrace diverse points of view, and benefit from having a free press and public voices that can question and dissent government decisions, if needed. The sycophancy usually exhibited by The Straits Times , and the Pavlovian response from many Singaporeans who jump to their government’s defence at the first sign of criticism, only serve to reinforce the mistaken perception that the government can do no wrong. Despite the tables having turned , Hong Kong politicians will not take a leaf out of Chan’s book and throw darts at Singapore. Not because Hong Kong doesn’t have straight talkers, but because they are a lot more circumspect and a lot less condescending. Also, if they did, they would be questioned and possibly chastised by both the people and the media in Hong Kong. Gauri Venkitaraman, Lam Tin Help us understand what you are interested in so that we can improve SCMP and provide a better experience for you. We would like to invite you to take this five-minute survey on how you engage with SCMP and the news.