Context is, of course, very important to interpreting and understanding what’s said. But before we can proceed, we need to ask, if Jo’s motivation is to ‘clarify’,
– Why then does she not include verbatim both the ‘suggestion’ or question asked and her original response at the REACH Post-Budget 2015 Public Forum, 26 Feb?
– Why did CNA & Today delete the original report of the Forum? Were they ‘instructed’ to do so, by whom?
Without knowing what she was responding to and the original reports, how does it help readers to compare what and why she finds it necessary to clarify after nearly a fortnight.
As it is, the uploaded videos at REACH, PAP F/B & Youtube are absent her reply. We only have CNA & Today original reports i.e. “She addressed one participant’s suggestion that national servicemen should be paid more. While she noted the importance of giving NSmen recognition, Mrs Teo said service for the country cannot be measured in dollars and cents.”
Since she prefaces her clarification with ‘My recent comments on National Service appear to have caused a stir, wouldn’t the logical first thing to do be to refute the reported remarks and context? As only ‘110 participants’ attended the forum, uploading the video of the relevant part will also allow everyone to listen, watch and weigh in more intelligently.
Note also that she did not repudiate both the part about ‘one participant’s suggestion’ and her reported response i.e. while she noted the importance of giving NSmen recognition…service for the country cannot be measured in dollars and cents.’
Instead, of directly addressing the unclear report, she introduced unverified, her own perceived, unverified view and projecting herself as a leader ‘sensing the disquiet’. With that, she then rephrases her reply as ‘the contributions of NSmen cannot be valued in monetary terms. What the SAF provides by way of the allowance cannot be used to measure the high levels of their contribution – it cannot be measured in dollars and cents.’
In effect, she paints herself as a leader while using a personal, emotional spin to nudge fence-sitters, marginal supporters and the mal/mis-informed voters (FMMs) to give her the benefit of the doubt.
Bottomline and specific to the episode, in not repudiating the report and introducing unverified info without the requisite video for readers to understand the original words and context – combined with the now un-cached report – she comes as someone caught with her pants down and then taking 2 weeks to dream up a narrative to confuse the FMMs .
Suffice to observe that her case as she makes it out to be will not stand muster to a basic court appearance on at least 2 counts; concealing and removing evidence.
Hence, instead of clarifying, she tries to confuse her way through.
Moving away from the specifics of this episode, let’s try to piece her words and conduct as a Senior MoS.
A little over a year ago, in response to the initial Marina Coastal Expressway foul-up, she said, ‘We cannot have the attitude that everything will be perfect from Day One. If we go in with that attitude, it can only mean that we have to build in a lot of redundancy.’
Even for SMEs, whether offering goods or services, the most basic operational philosophy is ‘getting it right the first time’. Many of us have also heard and read of Goh Keng Swee’s modus operandi along the same line. Lee Kuan Yew (when he was younger and not given to hubris and lowered standards about 50-year floods) once related at a National Day Rally how he insisted that when he picked up his phone in his official car, it’s got to work! Period.
Do not the 2 episodes (readers here, please list more snafus here) suggest that Jo Teo is not fit for her job as a Senior MoS and should go back to being an MP?
Furthermore, it is said ‘out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks’. So, there is no need for any hearer or reader to ‘twist’ her words as her supporters (in particular, Calvin Cheng) allege. Her conduct is plain enough for the reasonable person to see. Jo Teo believes deep in her heart that there is ‘service for the country’ and, well, ‘service for the country’ – depending on who dominates parliament to assign the monetary recognition level. (NB: Nowhere is there any call for the same level of monetary recognition as ministers. All calls are for what is reasonable as ‘recognition’ e.g. where ministers insist on pegging at the top 10% earners, some ask only to measure against current cost-of-living. So, who is twisting whose words?)
With this, Jo Teo confirms that she has more than reached her level of incompetence and that for all her words and (debatable) charm, she believes in her own sense of entitlement, supposedly, as a PAP-sanctioned ‘talent’, never mind service to country.
As a junior amongst full minister, her conduct appears to corroborate how more and more citizens are perceiving the PAP leaders, that they are out of touch with us and that, when confronted with a slip in word or action, they lack the courage or integrity or both to admit to being human sometime, to apologise but instead try to divert or deceive their way through.
Still fresh in our memory is Khaw Boon Wan’s sham Butterfly Lover talk-cock (sorry, no better English term than a Singlish one) to deflect over-complacency and professional neglect of duty in his ministry’s tender evaluation.
The worst and highest level event of the PAP’s shameful, self-deluding ways is PM Lee saying, let’s move on, after Singapore’s renowned terrorist, Mas Selamat, escaped while sacking a low-ranking guard and letting uncle-in-law Wong Kang Seng (who incidentally organized a casual makan session that resulted in his nephew making PM-elect back in 2003/4).
There we have it, Jo Teo’s clarification and conduct serve to corroborate the perception that PAP leadership is unlike the original PAP of their fathers’ days. They have become self-serving, touchy narcissists lacking in competence and integrity.