- Singapore summoned the Indian envoy over Arvind Kejriwal tweet
- Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday expressed concern over a variant
- Singapore, India have been partners in Covid fight, centre said
Singapore summoned the Indian envoy and conveyed its "strong objection" to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's tweet on a "Singapore variant", the central government said today, adding that the envoy had told the country Mr Kejriwal "has no competence" on Covid variants. "The Delhi Chief Minister does not speak for India," Foreign Minister S Jaishankar said in a public snub for Mr Kejriwal, which received a "thanks" from his Singapore counterpart.
"Singapore and India have been solid partners in the fight against Covid-19. Appreciate Singapore's role as a logistics hub and oxygen supplier. Their gesture of deploying military aircraft to help us speaks of our exceptional relationship. However, irresponsible comments from those who should know better can damage long-standing partnerships. So, let me clarify - Delhi CM does not speak for India," Foreign Minister Jaishankar tweeted.
However, irresponsible comments from those who should know better can damage long-standing partnerships.— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) May 19, 2021
So, let me clarify- Delhi CM does not speak for India.
Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan replied to Mr Jaishankar's tweet: "Thanks @DrSJaishankar let's focus on resolving the situation in our respective countries and helping one another. Nobody is safe until everyone is safe."
The foreign ministry's formal reassurance to Singapore also carried a sharp rebuke for Mr Kejriwal.
"Singapore Government called in our High Commissioner today to convey strong objection to Delhi CM's tweet on "Singapore variant". High Commissioner clarified that Delhi CM had no competence to pronounce on Covid variants or civil aviation policy," said the foreign ministry.
While acknowledging the Indian government's stand, Singapore said it reserved the right to invoke the provision of domestic law to check misinformation on some of the comments made by Arvind Kejriwal.
"So indeed, in Singapore, there is an act called Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act known as POFMA. It is meant to mitigate the spread of misinformation. So we reserve the right to invoke POFMA on some of the comments and assertions made by the Chief Minister on this topic," Singapore High Commissioner to India Simon Wong was quoted saying by news agency PTI.
Yesterday, Mr Kejriwal had urged the Centre to "cancel air services" with Singapore on account of what he called "a new form of corona that came to Singapore" and was extremely dangerous for children.
"The new form of Corona that came to Singapore is said to be extremely dangerous for children, in India it may come as a third wave. My appeal to the central government: 1. Air services with Singapore to be cancelled with immediate effect 2. Vaccine options should be worked out for children too," the Delhi Chief Minister had said in a Hindi tweet.
Hours later, Singapore put out a strong rebuttal and said it was the India-dominant strain that had been detected in most recent cases in the country.
"There is no truth in the assertion that there is a new COVID strain in Singapore. Phylogenetic testing has shown that the B.1.617.2 variant is the prevalent strain in many of the COVID cases, including in children, in recent weeks in Singapore," the Singapore High Commission in India tweeted.
There is no truth in the assertion that there is a new COVID strain in Singapore. Phylogenetic testing has shown that the B.1.617.2 variant is the prevalent strain in many of the COVID cases, including in children, in recent weeks in Singapore.https://t.co/uz0mNPNxlEhttps://t.co/Vyj7gyyzvJ— Singapore in India (@SGinIndia) May 18, 2021
Earlier today, Singapore's Foreign Minister said, "Politicians should stick to facts. There is no 'Singapore variant'".
Mr Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) accused the ruling BJP of being more bothered about Singapore than the safety of children.
"This is BJP's crass politics. It is clear that they are more worried about Singapore and Mr Kejriwal is worried about our children," Delhi's Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said.
The highly contagious B.1.617 variant was first detected in India and has now been found in several nations. It is said to have driven the second wave in the country.
Scientists and doctors have talked about a possible third wave that is likely to target children.
Yesterday, Union Aviation Minister Hardeep Puri had also taken a shot at the Delhi Chief Minister, reminding him that international passenger flights to and from India are suspended.