Many commentators have assigned the most sinister of pre-planned intentions by the government against Amos Yee. The operative word being ‘pre-planned’.
One popular conspiracy theory in the early stage was how Vincent Law was first seen as a smack at PAP but somehow became one of those roped in to help put Amos in his place. The about-turn was founded on Amos’ unverified claim of Vincent’s apparent ulterior motive to explore spiritual issues with him.
Then, as the wheel turned, the current popular theory has to do with the science of psychiatry and how psychiatric treatment appears to be the original weapon of choice to serve PM Lee’s aim to suppress Amos’ free-spirited criticism of his father’s official legacy. Such commentators appeared to have either not read or conveniently ignored past reports where psychiatry assessment was standard operating procedures. Pre-Dr Winslow’ report, no one wrote anything about psychiatry.
So, while most daft Singaporeans (aka PAP supporters) silently approve of the general treatment being meted out to poor Amos, smart Singaporeans (or PAP detractors) appear to change the emphasis in their conspiracy theory with each new development while keeping closely to a clear intent on PAP’s part to ‘kill Amos the chicken to teach other monkeys a lesson’.
One wonders what’s going to be the next new thing to write about as the trial and tribulation of poor Amos progresses.
There is a simpler explanation not only to what has happened – but also whatever is likely to happen if the saga continues on its current trajectory of ‘let the law take its course’.
It’s called system failure.
To allege that PM Lee has it all figured out how to deal with Amos even before or immediately after his uploaded video is to give LHL more credit in foresight than he deserves. In fact, it’s easy to see how lacking he is in 20/20 foresight by the end of this article.
The Singapore social and legal system is designed to deal with ‘normal’ criminal situations. A system tested effective (thus far) to manage the gamut of crimes that are familiar to our ordered society. It is a system that has not and cannot handle an event, a free-spirit or an outlier like Amos Yee.
As such, what has happened so far is that everyone who is working for and within the system is just doing the assigned duties expected of his role. So, the over-zealous citizens who first reported Amos’ ‘crime’ triggered the police to act on the complaint. The system then required the investigating officer and his superiors in the SPF to duly make the case from ‘evidence’ adduced. This then passed on to the AGC and public prosecutor assigned to the case to file the charges. The judge assigned to preside over the case did not and cannot view her job to include questioning the very existence of the statues relevant to the case in her court but merely to interpret them. That process and unquestioning compliance to one’s job within the system continued with the prison wardens and psychiatrists and everyone else handling the paperwork, including Amos meal preferences.
Everyone just goes about doing their job, collecting their salaries in order to pay their daily expensive bills and mortgages; making sure that they do not lose their jobs. Even if some (mostly) civil servants did raise questions, they preferred to keep matters to themselves instead of risking their rice bowls.
How can it pay to raise that possibility when your political masters have already called Amos ‘a parent’s nightmare’? Or the kindest words were that of the Law Minister saying, ‘Amos’ age is a factor for the courts to consider’ – but dropping the charges? Fat hope.
Therefore, it is rather clear that everyone, including all our ministers, are just playing along with the safe retort that the law must take its course. Not one single minister has appeared to have publicly come forward to stop the whole charade that warranted the UNHCR pleading on Amos’ behalf. How true LHL’s confession of a lack of 20/20 foresight now that he is self-inflicting damage to the good name of Singapore.
We elect leaders not only to manage economic, financial or social crises. We need leaders who are able to step in judiciously and quickly to compensate for when the systems in place cannot handle storms in a teacup that nevertheless can stir up serious harm to Singapore’s reputation and what we stand for – in this case, how we treat our young who are testing the limits of our culture, our laws to suit their generation.
A Few Good Men
PM Lee’s complete silence since the UNHCR’s 22 Jun appeal for Amos suggests that he wants to be seen to let the law run its course.
But it cannot be that his cabinet has not discussed the development robustly. Is it too late for Singapore? Will the hawks in the cabinet continue to insist on wielding the big stick on small man-child Amos?
I think it is time for Tharman, with his claimed attraction to the softer sides of democracy, Shanmugam, with his training and practice of the finer points of justice in action, and those ministers who profess the Christian faith to throw down the gauntlet and do a Dhanabalan.
Dhanabalan resigned from cabinet when LKY decided to prosecute the Marxist Conspiracy. He stood up for his personal beliefs and moral principles rather than be identified with a decision he objected to. I urge those ministers who disagree with the way the Amos Yee saga is being played out to stand up and be counted. They should not only offer to resign from cabinet but also to decide that they would no longer want to stand for the GE so as not to be linked erroneously to the fundamental issue of how we should treat our young who may not always share or express their views the way we are comfortable with.
If these ministers will challenge PM Lee, then there is hope yet for Singapore and our young ones. PM Lee, I think, will only understand the language of threat, sadly so.
How will the parable end? Does Singapore have a few good men?
Law Kim Hwee