There appeared to be not very much discussions with two recent relatively important events, namely; the recommendations by the Committee tasked to look at strengthening NS and the COI’s report on the Little India Riot.
Much can be discussed of each Committee’s findings. However, my interest is to see if there something may be right or amiss with the Committees themselves. Perhaps, in each terms of reference, composition, how they go about their work and such.
To keep the article short, I list beloe the key deficiency of each and ask if Committees these days are no more what they used to or should be. But only another ‘tool’ in the govt’s ‘toolkit’ to propagate their own Party, not the national, agenda.
NS: Medication and Treatment Without Diagnosis of Condition
Dr Ng Eng Hen correctly observed ‘…Others have dismantled their NS systems, not because threats disappeared but because public support waned.’ He also reportedly asserted that the ‘Committee to Strengthen NS (CSNS), recommendations are a comprehensive package of significant measures to strengthen NS for future generations and provide SG with a strong defence’.
The CSNS was formed in Mar 2013 ‘to examine how the NS system can be strengthened for the future, to better serve Singapore and Singaporeans’. It comprised 2 working groups with their respective focus;
a) Support for NS : examined how we can better motivate our servicemen and maximise their contributions. The WG also studied measures to strengthen support for NS among the community.
b) Recognition & benefits: examined how we can better recognise and show appreciation for the contributions of our servicemen.
From the given info, the need for such a committee appears not to arise from a desire to build on an already strong ‘public support’ but to arrest what may be a public growing weary or wary of NS for our sons… even as the PM himself declared that the Singapore they are sworn to defend ‘belongs to everyone’, including PRs whose sons get to chose whether or not to do NS when turning 18. No such luck for true-blue born ones.
We would logically think that even before deliberating on Support and Recognition & Benefits, CSNS members must surely ask themselves first and foremost the question, ‘How did we go from strong, unquestioning public support to hearing voices, albeit in the extreme, calling for ‘Abolish NS’?
If such a fundamental question is ignored, if no diagnosis has been made, and correctly made, what good are all the recommendations (treatment)? Isn’t it common sense that the govt would first try to identify, understand and discard or rejig those policies that have, over time, caused erosion of the support for NS amongst citizens?
Little India Riot: Forensic Criminalistics – With Preferred Witnesses
Of the 5 terms of reference, the first 2 are most important since they determine what the next 3 ought to be.
1. Establish the ‘factors and circumstances’ that led to the riot and
2. Establish how the riot unfolded and how the response forces managed the incident.
Our purpose, as with the CSNS, is to examine if this committee has got their fundamentals right in the first place. Otherwise, whatever followed would again simply be the wrong medicine or recommended treatment from a misdiagnosis (or a no-diagnosis for CSNS).
We would think that for any COI to be able to get a fairly accurate picture of the ‘factors, circumstances and events unfolding’ in the riot, ALL WITNESSES prior to, at the point of, during and after the rioting must be called for questioning.
Did the COI do so?
Apparently not. Consider;
– All the MSM reports were confined to the bus driver and his assistant, personnel from the SCDF & the Police as witnesses. Wouldn’t it be fair to say that the driver and assistant could only view things from within the bus and not outside where the real action was? And those sent to quell the riot, didn’t they only come AFTER the riot started and could shed no light whatsoever as to what happened prior to, at the point of and, indeed, during the first early critical moments when matters got out of hand?
– As reported, 53 of the alleged perpetrators were summarily ‘repatriated to their home countries’. All within a matter of 12 days.
– Another 200 were given stern warnings for their ‘passive and incidental role’.
– Yet another 2 dozens or so were charged in court.
Only 8 (9%) out of 93 witnesses were ‘foreign worker’, of which 2 served jail terms. But NONE were from the 53, neither was it clear if any of the 200 – all closest, physically and time-wise, to the real action – were called to testify.
Wasn’t the 53 being repatriated akin to ‘destroying or removing evidence from the crime scene’ by no less than the Singapore Police themselves recommending it to the Manpower Ministry?
Therefore, how credible, trustworthy could the COI findings and recommendations be based on procedural and substantive considerations?
And we have the Chair, Hri Kumar, of the relevant parliamentary committee describing the report as ‘robust’. Bad joke.
Without belittling the sincere efforts of those who sat on the CSNS and the COI, Singaporeans must honestly and vigorously question the MPs they have elected and the Cabinet that initiated the two committees;
1. Are Committees formed to determine already pre-determined or preferred outcomes of the sitting government?
2. Or to determine the factual realities upon which useful conclusions are drawn and actions can be correctly taken for the good of Singapore, not a particular political party?
If we continue down this road, Singapore will lose all our hard-earned credibility as a nation under the rule of law.