"Perhaps we need to be smarter, faster than others to survive," I told my wife at the height of the epidemic. My wife answered, "If so, the world will have another villain."

The day the Singapore Ministry of Health raised the alert on disease, most of the markets and supermarkets were sold out of necessities. The infectious disease response system has been raised to "orange" by the government, close to the highest level of "red" in early February, when the first patients were infected with corona virus in the island nation of Lion Island. People in front of the cash register of big supermarket chains such as NTUC Fairprice, Sheng Siong and Giant started to grow longer.

From the cashier's desk, buyers of solid dragons link through cosmetics, confectionery stall, to the beverage, canning, and fresh goods section. Everyone seemed to be bored, impatient because they had to wait a long time, some people angrily left, leaving some shopping carts for free. That afternoon, supplies such as rice, instant noodles, vegetables and toilet paper disappeared on the shelves. By February 8, news of the state of food storage began to appear on social media. , more and more people flock to markets, supermarkets from small to large. The Straits Times newspaper ran the headline "Supermarkets are out of stock".

Having lived here for seven years, I and many people are surprised that Singapore, the most developed market in Southeast Asia and the world, has always been praised for its stable and orderly economy and society. Such abnormal state. The disease has stirred up daily life. Companies began dividing employees into small offices and away from the center. Some families had to take their children to school near the old office, and then the parents ran to the new office, spending an extra two hours a day on the road.

My colleague, a Singaporean sister, was struggling to buy expensive masks because her father had a chronic illness, she had to go to the hospital often and needed a mask to avoid serious illness. When thousands of people scrambled to buy and hoard hundreds of masks, the 80-year-old really needed it.

Even the well-off head of a department, just a click every day to deliver the food to the home, sometimes delivery money is more expensive than food, also rush to the supermarket to dredge what you can buy. for six people in the house. She texted me bitterly: "If I don't buy it now, I'm afraid there's nothing left to buy after being taken away."

I recall, the masking panic ensued before food, beginning about a week after corona virus cases were discovered in Singapore. Less than a week after the case, the island nation lacked a mask supply, and people were eager to buy more stockpiles. I was returning to Vietnam for Tet and was also texted by two brothers and sisters living in Singapore, who each bought 200 masks from Vietnam. At that time, all of Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Tokyo were no longer wearing three-layer masks.

It was then that I discussed with my wife how to hurry and work for my family. But she - a Singaporean woman - brushed it off, because the world doesn't need more "wicked people". She said her family had enough food for over a week. By then the market will stabilize the supply. I do not need to put extra pressure on the supermarket and transportation staff to brace themselves for the unexpected needs of the crowd. I felt uneasy after what she said. We always take care of cultivating everything better for ourselves, how about others, do they not need a mask, do not need prevention, food and drink? But we are so busy with our desires, our mind has no room to think for others, even just neighbors right across the wall.

I know my wife is right, if everyone wants to ignore others to survive, soon the society will be like? It is not difficult to imagine the scene until some time, because we are so afraid of others taking over the source of life, we have to behave without being human sometimes just to have an extra mask or a few coins, a pound of meat.

If anyone has ever lived in Japan, may have seen the scene without the need for propaganda, the government reminded or called on, people in tight situations always choose to buy, receive and take only a small portion of their food. to eat, our necessities, and the rest to come later. If you want to buy too much to hoard, the seller also does not sell but remind, buy a temporary enough to use because there must be sharing. Once they had to utter that reminder, the situation became very embarrassing to the listener. But we also know, very few countries have that culture. Consumer ethics, as well as the sales ethics of individuals in society, sometimes come from the education and value system they enjoyed when they were children.

When it is impossible to appeal to the conscience and self-awareness of the seller, buying in situations of market reversal, limiting the amount of goods sold to each individual, the unit is also a measure to stabilize the government's market. . Singapore did so. The government immediately after food shortages imposed limits on the amount people could buy. The notice is published in mainstream newspapers and supermarkets. Each person can buy no more than two bags of rice (each can reach up to 15 kg), four bags of instant noodles (from 20 to 24 packs) and an amount of vegetables equivalent to SGD 50 (about VND 800,000) per day.

This "quota" is calculated a little higher than normal demand and still ensures sufficient supply in the medium term. Who needs to buy two sacks of rice every day for seven days. So maybe everyone knows then they have bought everything they need and should not have to work hard to buy stock at 10 different supermarkets to do, the Singapore market after three days has calmed down.

I find the lessons from the epidemic useless if we look and ponder the way we live, behave, and operate today's economies. It is the lesson of both the government and the people about cultivating the conscience of the market, including the ethics of both consumers and sellers in turmoil. Attitudes and actions of the parties at the right time, with the right dose will make the "conscience" of the market flourish.

Personally, I know that corona virus is dangerous for elderly people and have a medical history, while I am a young man, sports people, rarely sick. Not to mention, experts recommend not wearing a mask all the time. I gave a portion of a mask to the brothers and sisters to give to their colleague's 80-year-old father, who needed them most. Buy less and consume less, even if you're not short of money, simply because it's the right thing to do.

Phạm Minh Quang