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I am Singaporean XIV – It’s Not Our Fault! April 13, 2009

Posted by The Truth in I am Singaporean, Vol. II.
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Generally, in Asia, “face” is very important.  That’s why disgrace carries such a high price – some Japanese managers kill themselves out of shame and regret, and our Gahmen always tries desparately to silence shame or at least divert it away from itself, as we have seen during Mas Selamat’s Great Escape, GIC losses and CDC bonuses, the suicide of CPT Allan Ooi, and now food poisoning.  And the same strategy has been used from time to time again:

  1. Politicians claim their words were twisted in meaning
  2. “That information is classified.”
  3. Shutting up and hoping it blows over
  4. Reminders to “move on”
  5. Pushing the blame, or formulating a National Education class
  6. Reassuring everyone that “everything is in order”

For example, for Mas Selamat’s escape, there was first a big blackout from the Gahmen, followed by calls to “move on”, because it’s happened and they can’t do anything about it, and then having a certain octagenarian come up and make a National Education lesson out of it.  “Don’t be complacent.” Information about CDC bonuses were classified but in order.  For the suicide of CPT Ooi, MINDEF’s response threw up more questions than answers, and the blame was initially shifted to CPT Ooi’s person.  Only the full letter forced MINDEF to change its stand, although there is still that lingering taste of ad hominem. As for food poisoning…i refer you to the Wayang Party.  National Education in the works!

Ultimately, Wayang Party has taken its share of flak, just as anyone who writes anything does.  They were accused of shifting the blame to the Government, although they said that the Government shifted the blame to the people.  The State media sprung into action, publishing letters which tell us the dangers and risks of eating out, without asking for the role of the Government, or the question: could this have been prevented by Government policy or engagement?  Nothing has been heard on that topic.

Why, then, does the Gahmen try to deflect blame, rather than accept that something has gone wrong?  Why can everyone else be wrong except them?  Do they really have a mandate from God, or is the Gahmen too far deep in its own Singapore where they walk as gods amongst lesser mortals?  A government which sees the need to deflect all blame from itself in order to appear squeaky clean is, in my humble opinion, a government which freaks out when something goes wrong in Paradise.  How many of our MPs have withstood an election?  How many of our MPs were ex-scholars, successful according to a narrow definition – another symbol of an attempt to create an artificial Paradise?  Why do policies which are discussed in Parliament seem to be already prepared for implementation, without going down to the people?  Doesn’t it sound like we, the citizens, are animals in a zoo, which are overseen by the Gahmen, which accepts no responsibility to the animals and is only interested in keeping the zoo thriving?  So, the animals should take care of themselves and always obey the rules of the zoo.  Otherwise, they’ll have to be put down.

A tiger which escapes will scare tourists away, no?

What the Gahmen must realise is that Singapore is not a zoo where things are formally laid down and the people are expected, like animals without any reason, to obey these formal rules blindly and accept their lot.  They have to take some responsibility for their charges and not just for the zoo, although it probably is easier to do the latter than the former.  And that includes admitting that sometimes they are wrong, or that more could have been done.

That they are drawing such a high salary makes that aspect of responsibility even more imperative.  The Gahmen should see that although prevention is better than the cure, they cannot always fix their minds on prevention.  Sometimes, when the cure is necessary, they have to take it.  And not try to make everyone forget the cure by extensive prevention efforts, because the sickness remains, which can and will rear its ugly head one day.

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