A ‘vaccine swap’ deal which will see Singapore send Australia 500,000 Pfizer doses now in return for 500,000 doses from Australia in December has already soured, after Singapore officials noticed the fine print clarified they will be ‘first in line’.
The clause means Singapore will receive the return doses in July 2022 at the earliest, but more likely not until 2024.
Frustrated Singaporean officials say they had been misled, and blamed cultural differences for the misunderstanding.
“In Singaporean culture when we say something will be ‘delivered in December’ it means it will be delivered in December. But we’ve heard that in Australian culture when you say something will be ‘delivered in December’, what you actually mean is that there is a sexual assault scandal that needs to be distracted from and that a car park will be built in a marginal electorate next June. There are lots of hidden meanings and subtexts – it is a very complex culture that we are still trying to fully understand”.