Friday, March 21, 2008

Still have not been Sued

A Young "Pro-Government" supporter asked me to stop posting "Scandalous" and "Unpatriotic" post on the government's performance in the Mas Selamat Affair. The young man in question, felt that I was "Unappreciative" of Singapore and the good work that government has done. He's reminded me that the government has done a good job, delivering 7.68 percent economic growth and unemployment is at an all time low. With such a proud record in delivering the economic goodies, why was I being such a "Western - Liberal" and calling the government's performance in this instance - incompetent. How could I keep expecting the government to be "God" and why couldn't I accept that the Minister of Home Affairs is "Only Human and therefore prone to Human Error."

Well what can you do with such request? I believe that the only response to people who ask you to stop posting "Scandalous" things is to keep posting more of the same. As a Singaporean who has served his National Service, it's my obligation to question the system. I think PN Balji says it best - "The government has got 75-80 percent of things right but it's vital that private citizens harp on about the 20-25 percent that they have not got right." Thanks to Mas Selamat affair, the private citizen has something to harp about and should take every opportunity to do so until Mas Salamat kills himself with laughter.

Perhaps I'm starting to sound like a broken record here but if I don't keep repeating myself, I fear the messages I believe in will be forgotten in the "Feel Good" factors that surround us. I am not "Anti-Government" but given a choice between being "Pro-Singapore" and "Pro-Government," I chose the later. I shouldn't need to stand for election to get my feedback accross. Suggesting that I need to do so, is in itself a form of betrayal to Singapore or any other nation.

Point 1 - Mas Selamat's escape, while a blot on the Home Affair's Ministry, is but one incident in otherwise enviable track-record.

Well, true, Ministry of Home Affairs has a good record in keeping Singapore safe. Singapore is remarkably crime-free. It's the one place I can think of where young girls can happily drink themselves silly, sprawl themselves on the streets after midnight and live to tell the tale without so much a scratch.

But as the Singapore Police Force ad campaign says "Low Crime does not Mean NO CRIME." In the case of Mas Selmat, this is particularly true. This is not a low-level pick pocket taking your spare change. This man, according to the Ministry of Home Affairs is a dangerous terrorist who is dedicated to doing major damage to Singapore. As far as Mas Selamat is concerned, the more people he kills, the better - it underlines his objectives. If anyone suggests that his escape is just a "small" event, they should consider this - in 23-days of freedome, Mas Selamat has a growing chance to not only become stronger, he has a chance to actually achieve his aims. Sure, no one has died in a bomb attack todate, but the chances of that happening has increased and gets higher each day this man is running around. We arrested him under the Internal Security Act because he had the potential to do damage - do we need him to actually do the damage before we understand that his escape is No Small Matter? This is not a paper statistic on the Home Affairs Ministry's record but an actual human whom Ministry of Home Affairs said was keen to do damage to Singapore having the freedome to do it.

Of course, there is also the possibility that Mas Selamat never was the threat the Ministry claims he is. It's happened before, in the 1980's "Marxist Conspiritors" were arrested under ISA - truth was - most of them belonged to the Catholic Church that pissed off the powers that be. But then as former Austrlian Prime Minister, John Howard says, "When it comes to terrorism, don't take the risk." - So let's give Home Affairs the benefit of doubt.

Point 2 -
Minister of Home Affairs, Wong Kang Seng, has done alot for Singapore and he's shown determination to capture Mas Selamat. Calling for his head to roll is political opportunism.

I don't doubt that Minister Wong has contributed many things that benefit Singaporeans. However, Minister Wong is the Man-in-Charge of Singapore's Security, and when you have a major breach of national security like this, the man-in-charge has to be responsible. Saying sorry is not sufficient.

This was not a case of the man escaping and being caught within a few days. If that where the case, we could say this was negligence on the part of the prison services or staff at Whitely detention centre. This is a case of the man running around for 23-days and counting as well appropriate measures being activated too late - just look to the fact that it took them 19-days after his detention to release information that Mas Selamat has a mole on his face. These decisions are made at the command level not on the ground - it's commanders and above who need to be responsible for the failures of the opperations.

In Singapore, the government's performance needs to come for especially close scrutiny and feedback. The reason for this is because our Ministers are paid more than anyone elses. The government told us this was necessary to prevent corruption and attract talent into public service. We accepted the government's argument that was necessary to pay public servants competative rates with the private sector, so we should demand the same results from the government that we do of the private sector - heads of leaders who blunder.

PM Lee Hsien Loong pointed out to the number of jobs paying more than the Prime Minister's in Singapore. He argued that none of these jobs were more important than the Prime Minister's. Therefore when you look at this way, the high official salaries were justifiable.

Since this argument was used, we should carry it further. A CEO who loses money for his shareholders within a quarter put's his job on line. A CEO who loses money within a year gets sacked. Nobody cares about the guys track record and all the other good things he's done. Nobody cares if this is human error. So is the government telling us that the jobs of the PM and his Ministers are less valuable than the CEO's, and therefore they should not be held to the same standards? True, Ministry of Home Affairs does not have a profit and loss statement but it deals in something far more important - national security. Are we saying that the Man in charge of this is not really as important as the CEO of a commercial organisation and should maintained in his high-paying job when national security has been compromised?

Point 3 - Laughing at the Authorities is unpatriotic and insulting to the efforts of the Home Team Uniformed Officers trying to Look for Mas Selamat

National Security is important to Singapore. It's one of the reasons why the government has allocated some S$ 100 million towards terrorism prevention facilities. I, for one, think the police force has done a good job in keeping Singapore safe and our civil defense and prison services do their job too.

And having served in a uniformed group for 2 1/2 years of my youth, I do understand that you do alot of hard work, which the public does not see. But as my National Service Battery Commander once said," All you can and should expect for doing your job is a note saying "Job Well Done." Otherwise what you do is just - what you do.

Besides, it is commical to see how one limping and undereducated, unarmed, working alone man can evade capture by thousands of security personel, backed -up by thousands more community leaders and equiped with the latest technology. Laughing at this situation beats getting upset by the clear inadequacies of the government's search for Mas Selamat.

And as I've often said - who is the big traitor to the man in the field? The public that does not applaud and riddicules the efforts or the leaders who send him into the field with inadequate leadership?

So, let's think this through. Leadership needs to take responsabilities of the failures of this incidents as well as potential success. Demanding this of leaders is not unpatriotic but the highest form of patriotism.

For the record:
My name is Tang Li. My NRIC number is S7439818I and I live in Block 27 Marine Crescent, #22-03, Singapore 440027. I can be reached at +6590256957 or li@tang-asia.com. The views expressed are my own and I welcome anyone to take discuss any issues they may find offensive.


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