"to rescue truth from beauty and meaning from belief"

This Damned, Damning, Damnable Silence


In case anyone should forget – or does not even remember or know about – today, 26 Feb 2016 is exactly one month since a young boy of fourteen, one who would be a member of what our PM would proclaim to be our ‘extended Singapore family’ in his 2016 Lunar New Year message, was denied his recess meal, taken to his school office, handed over to not one but five police officers without any question or protest by his school principal, disciplinary master and counsellor, had his phone used by the police to call his mother only to be taken away when the mother wanted to speak longer to understand the situation, driven to the police station at Ang Mo Kio (?), went through a few hours of interrogation alone that left him with cold hands when subsequently released to his mother and sister (but only after his mother was made to pay S$2000/- as bail for her son’s ‘confession of guilt’ for alleged outrage of modesty of an 11-year old girl), returned home only to receive a phone call shortly, this time from a  teacher, that he is no longer welcome to attend the school camp that he had his bag all packed and ready to go to, and then after he was informed by his ma of the school’s decision…..no one will ever know for certain the thoughts of this 14-year old boy nor the confusion, anguish and fears that filled his young fledging mind…no one will ever understand how he must have felt as he put aside his handphone, opened his window, look down from the height of his bedroom, climbed over the ledge – and jumped.

‘THUD’ – Benjamin’s body hit the tarmac in his Sembawang Group Representative Constituency flat, located in Yishun. That same estate where even dead cats got their justice – and the keen attention of the MP and even a Minister. And more coverage in the Straits Times, TODAY and ChannelNewsAsia than Benjamin ever did.


It’s been 31 days, a full calendar month since then…and the silence continues…..


This Damned Damning Damnable Silence
Had he lived till 18
Give your life to S’pore, you’d say to him.
But Benjamin is dead
Yet no word of comfort you have said.
You and your damned damning damnable silence.

You, with your faith, beliefs and values
Of Benjamin, what says your God to you?
You, with belief not in God but only yourself
Too busy indulging in self, the rest can go to hell?
You and your damned damning damnable silence.

You, who have the ear of the powers there be
Respect, you relish from the proximity.
Just when Benjamin cries his need of a whisper
We hear not you utter even a soft whimper.
But this damned damning damnable silence.

You, to the Presidents you once spoke
You, of the need for ‘love in politics’ you once wrote.
Where now is your reasoned voice for our Benjamin boy
Where now your kind words for Benjamin do you deploy?
Nothing but this damned damning damnable silence.

You, a philosopher, a vaunted thinker
A Big Ideas cheer leader.
But when it comes to a young breath so achingly lost
Do you even breathe one word to your boss?
You and your damned damning damnable silence.

You, old hands or newly débuted, you MPs all
Men-in-white or Opposition all the more.
Has it ever to you occurred
When a 14-year old kills himself that you must yourself bestir?
Not this damned damning damnable silence.

And you, you leaders who demand we trust you all
You dream for our children the future way, set us our laws and protocols.
You with your Lunar New Year ‘extended Singapore family’ message
But poor Benjamin is dead and you keep silent, no condolence said.
This damned damning damnable silence.

Will we daft ones ever learn?


Benjamin Lim died a wretched, unwarranted, untimely death. The least we all should do as this extended Singapore family is not to forget. Or keep silent in the face of the silence of the powerful, the persons who, we’d expect, surely must, if they do even their miserable, absolute least, open their mouths to say how sad and sorry for the sorrows that Benjamin’s father, mother and siblings have and are going through since 26 Jan 2016.

Law Kim Hwee
26 Feb 2016


3 thoughts on “This Damned, Damning, Damnable Silence

  1. Thank you for continuing to remember the Lim family. Finally, there’s mention of this in the news today:



  2. A poignant essay on a tragedy. An incidence like that would have caused nation-wide uproar in many countries. The silence from the people in power was indeed “defeafening!”.


    • Perhaps, greater than Benjamin’s death and the tragic ‘deafening’ silence of those in power will unfold in the future – the tragedy of a people that know not and do not rise up in righteous anger against its soulless leaders.

      How will those with ill-intent think of and look upon us…ahh, this timid land – with all its expensive, modern weaponry but without a soul?


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