Goodest Leaders: March 2020

Moon Lee and Tsai square

Moon Jae-in, President of South Korea; Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister of Singapore; Tsai Ing-wen, President of Taiwan

For containing the coronavirus in an effective and responsible manner the governments of South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan deserve praise. The governments of Singapore and Taiwan promptly implemented measures for effective prevention and control of the virus. South Korea's interventions halved the rate of spread (compared to Italy) and allowed the country to continue functioning more or less as normal. Although these countries are geographically close to China, they provided decisive leadership in promoting large-scale detection of infections. Furthermore, they demonstrated prescience in establishing border controls (not usually a practice encouraged in the Good Country philosophy, but vital for controlling pandemics when conducted in a timely, humane and proportional manner), encouraging the use of face masks for citizens, and, for many years prior to the arrival of COVID-19, investing heavily in efficient healthcare infrastructure and pandemic readiness.

From broad testing regulations to contact tracing and case isolation they have continued to set the bar on how to manage the pandemic at a national level. In ensuring domestic control over the disease each government is doing its part in slowing down the global spread of the disease, thus protecting the citizens of many other countries as well as their own. The Gold Standard of Dual Mandate behaviour is ‘harmonising one’s domestic and international responsibilities’ and this case is a clear example of exactly that principle.