"to rescue truth from beauty and meaning from belief"

Roy Ngnerg’s Dismissal : Integrity Inconsistency


This is an opinion piece that just cries out to write itself into existence.

TTSH & MOH – High Standards of Integrity

Press releases are not to be taken lightly. There is usually plenty of time to think through the many possible interpretations for the different audiences intended or that may come to read them.

For citizens taking the recent statements put out by TTSH and MOH at their face value, we cannot but applaud them for setting and then holding even their lower-ranking employees to their high corporate standards of integrity.

From TTSH, we have

Mr Ngerng’s conduct was incompatible with the values and standards we expect of our employees. While our staff are free to pursue their personal interests outside work, they must conduct themselves properly, honourably and with integrity.”


MOH supports TTSH’s decision as Mr Ngerng’s actions show a lack of integrity and are incompatible with the values and standards of behaviour expected of hospital employees.”

For both TTSH and MOH to go to such lengths to demonstrate their commitment to integrity is indeed laudable. Both are merely practising what PM Lee has time and again emphasized what Singapore cannot do without:

… maintaining high standards of integrity and honesty is the key differentiator between politics in Singapore and in many other countries.” –  (28 May 2014, on ‘Constructive Politics’ in Parliament)

PAP & PM Lee – Consistent Stand on Integrity

Every one of the three PMs that Singapore has known thus far has emphasized the supreme importance of integrity at one time or another.

The moment key leaders are less than incorruptible, less than stern in demanding high standards, from that moment the structure of administrative integrity will weaken, and eventually crumble. Singapore can survive only if Ministers and senior officers are incorruptible and efficient.” – (Then PM Lee Kuan Yew, 1979 [Link])

But it is not just efficiency of the bureaucracy. More important is integrity: integrity of political leaders, public officials and the value system of the country.” – (Mr Goh Chok Tong, 18 Oct 2008)

This is the standard that we must hold ourselves to, and that Singaporeans have rightly come to expect from those in politics, whether in government or opposition. This is why we must take accusations of dishonesty against political leaders very seriously,
– (PM Lee Hsien Loong, 13 July 2013, in Parliament when confronting WP on AHPETC’s spring cleaning of hawker centre)

Aren’t we Singaporeans so darn fortunate to have leaders who put so much emphasis on the indispensability of integrity in public institutions and life?

Integrity Consistency – But For A Toothpick Thrown Into The Works

Many restaurants give you toothpicks, but the toothpick is so big it can never go through, but this one is so fine that whatever is inside sure can come out… In fact, can never resist…They always serve in a pack,” – he told reporters at BreadTalk Group’s new headquarters in Tai Seng.

And because I go there very early – 10.30 in the morning – always full right. And guess what? By the time I left, normally right, it’s half left. The other half is in my pocket.” – (Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Lim Swee Say, 22 July 2013, on Din Tai Fung’s toothpicks [Link])

Why are we holding lower level employees to the high standards of integrity in the use of office time and resources while completely ignoring a minister in the PMO going to lunch at 1030 hours as a matter of course and snitching on toothpicks? And, as someone astutely pointed out, since SGX trades can only be done from 0900 to 1700 hours working days, how about another minister who could trade shares in the million units and make millions $$$ more there from?

Of course, we must state a sparrow or two do not a summer make, that the entire government and civil service is lacking in integrity.

But, we must surely recognise ‘it is important to see distant things as if they were close and to take a distanced view of close things’. Hence, could we be looking at ‘the moment’ that LKY speaks of, “The moment key leaders… are less than stern in demanding high standards, from that moment the structure of administrative integrity will weaken, and eventually crumble.” LKY, the wise man that he is, understands that the one who is faithful in little is faithful in much.

The question of the moment, then, for PM Lee is, has that moment passed by him now? Or will he put aside his pride or double standards and come through for Singapore somehow? Or is he so distracted with his own personal reputation over a silly infringement from an over-zealous citizen, that he is too far gone to care for the State of the Nation?



3 thoughts on “Roy Ngnerg’s Dismissal : Integrity Inconsistency

  1. Pingback: Daily SG: 16 Jun 2014 | The Singapore Daily

  2. I would also like to know if the PM receives monetary compensation as the chairman of the government owned GIC, and if the MM receives both a MP salary and pension concurrently. If so, are they considered double, or even multiple, dipping?


    • Hi!

      I do not have the full nor verified details in response to yr query. Someone I asked responded with this:

      “According to wiki, the pensionable age for MPs is 50, must serve no less than 9 years and entitled to 1/30 of highest annual salary during his term of office subject to a maximum of 2/3rd of MP’s salary. In addition to their MP pensions, Ministers gets another 1/27 of their highest annual salary during their term subject to 2/3rd of their Minister’s salary. They can start drawing at 55 even if they have not completed their term of office. Bloody hell! But it appeared there is a change in 2011. Those appointed after that date will not received pensions and those before will their pension calculated up to that point.

      I believe LKY receives both pension and MP salaries. I do know under UK Law, this is possible provided tax is paid on both pensions and salaries in aggregate.

      I also believe that GIC being a separate legal entity will have to pay its board of directors. However, as the Chairman is an non-executive, his salary or in actual fact director fees, is usually a token amount.

      Hope it helps.”

      I would venture that PM LHL, Lim Hng Kiang and similar who are over 60 years old are drawing both pensions and salaries. LKY, too, his pension & current MP’s salary. CUrrently, this does not appear to be a problem with the electorate…but that may change. Who knows?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s