Sunday, July 3, 2016

Coroner's verdict on Benjamin Lim

This was the letter I emailed to the Right Honourable Law Minister K. Shanmugam on 1.7.16 on the subject:

Dear Mr. Shanmugam,

I seek your indulgence in writing to you as the Minister-in-charge on a matter of public interest.

Singaporeans have been following the coroner's inquiry on Benjamin Lim with keen interest. Benjamin Lim was the frail 14 year-old student who was hauled by five burly policemen in plainclothes from his school in January for alleged molestation of a girl to the police station for interrogation. He was arrested and released on bail. He went straight home after that and the tragic thing was that he was found dead at the bottom of his flat after he jumped out of the window.

The coroner's inquiry was not without controversies and threw up a complexing picture of questionable police procedures and the inadequacies of the school authorities in dealing with the case. As a result the coroner had to adjourn the inquiry to 8 June to give his verdict. But the puzzling thing is that there was a no-show of the coroner's verdict nor was there any announcement of postponement.

Almost a month has now passed since 8 June and would it not be time for the public to be advised as to the progress of the coroner's proceedings and when a verdict is to be expected? The verdict is important as it would show whether there is any culpability on the part of anybody, especially the police, in the tragic death of Benjamin Lim, who in the meantime may be making a poignant cry for justice.

With due respect and regards. Yoong Siew Wah

This must have come as a shock to Mr. Shanmugam but I am not too optimistic that the high and mighty Law Minister would have the humility to reply to a plebeian. My letter could have caused not a little ripple  as it brings to the public notice a disturbing and unusual situation in the administration of justice. The State Coroner was scheduled to give his verdict on the tragic death of Benjamin Lim on 8 June and quite inexplicably he gave a no-show without any announcement of any postponement. And this was to drag on with no explanation or announcement by the Minister of the reason of the no-show or the resumption of the inquiry. This unusual state of affair would have been allowed to continue indefinitely if this had not been brought up with the Minister.

It boggles the mind as to why there as no-show by the State Coroner. He was scheduled to give a very important verdict on the tragic death of Benjamin Lim which could have serious repercussions on certain quarters like the police. Could there be a possibility, even if remote, for the State Coroner to have suddenly found himself to be in an unpardonable situation where he had to act against his own conscience and abstained from giving his verdict?

The inquiry has so far disclosed some disturbing features. The State Coroner might have found it bizarre that the police had to send five burly policemen in plainclothes to haul a frail-looking 14 year -old student from his school to the police station for interrogation. And the manner in which the confession was obtained from him left a very big question mark. Benjamin"s father tried to raise the question of the five policemen  in the inquiry but this was blocked by the State Counsel assisting the inquiry who was obviously anxious to shield the police from being shown as extremely stupid by sending such massive force to haul in a frail student. How can the police now say that they are understaffed? Then there is the doubtful evidence of the school supervisor on the reason for stopping Benjamin Lim from attending a school function the next day which the coroner found questionable. This was the reason for adjourning the inquiry to 8 June for a verdict as the coroner wanted to satisfy himself on the truthfulness of the supervisor's evidence.

A young innocent life has been sacrificed and the public has the right to know what caused his death and whether anyone is responsible for it. The distraught parents are left with no one to look after them in their old age. It cannot be more strongly emphasised that the coroner's inquiry must be resumed without delay to arrive at a verdict and the Law Minister must come out with an early announcement, if only to redeem his serious omission. Let this be a warning to an over-confident PM Lee Hsien Loong and his Cabinet, especially his Law Minister that there should not be any attempt at cover-up which will have dire consequences to the PAP.

A final word for the Workers' Party. An email was sent to Pritam Singh on 23.6.16 requesting him to enquire from the Law Minister but it seemed to have fallen on deaf ears. The Workers' Party needs to buck up and it can redeem its omission by taking up this matter in Parliament.


Friday, July 1, 2016

An insight into Singapore's preparedness in counter-terrorism measures

Especially after the murderous terrorist attack on Istanbul in Turkey recently, it has been daily exercising the nimble mind of our so-called intrepid PAP leaders, especially the unusually alert PM Lee Hsien Loong and the pushy Defence Minister Dr. Ng Eng Hen almost to the point of insanity on means and ways of softening the public to an imminent terrorist attack of the scale of Paris and Istanbul. That Singapore may be targeted for terrorist attack may not be a myth anymore. It's a question of when and not if. That Singapore may be attracted as a terrorist target may also be attributable to the blustering accounts by PAP Ministers, especially Dr. Ng Eng Hen of the so-called formidable forces at their command to counter any terrorist attack.

The latest gimmick is the establishment of the so-called Army Deployment Force (ADF) of battalion size with a rapid response of ten minutes to a terrorist attack. All this is very well for local consumption but what do you think of the terrorist reaction to such a bluster? Would it not be a challenge to them to target Singapore for all its bluster even if there was no such intention initially? Who would suffer in such an attack? Not the ministers or the armed forces.There is a Chinese saying: If you are careful you can drive a ten-thousand year ship (小心駛得萬年船). There is nothing to prevent Dr. Ng Eng Hen from continuing his blustering way, but it would be at his peril.

It is therefore more prudent to assuage the public mind to our counter-terrorism measures in a less pushy manner so as not to incur the animosity of the terrorists. So far all these talks were about counter-terrorism measures. Has it not occurred to the high and mighty PAP leaders to lay out measures to deal with the aftermath of any terrorist attack? Are there no lessons to be learnt from the terrorist attacks in Paris and Istanbul? Conditions may well be so chaotic that it is difficult to distinguish terrorists from victims and it will be a time when it will require monumental effort to calm the public. Notwithstanding the so-called fool-proof immigration security system, if the terrorists are determined to smuggle themselves into Singapore, events in Paris and Istanbul had proved this can be achieved by the terrorists.They are suicide bombers and their whole aim is to smuggle themselves into Singapore to carry out their mission. They do not expect to leave Singapore alive.

Finally, has it ever occurred to our high-falutin PAP wallahs that the ordinary humble Singaporeans may be able to contribute some very good ideas to our counter-terrorism measures or the aftermath? Only that they have not been asked probably because they are not considered to have the requisite expertise.

May God bless Singapore?

An insight into Singapore's preparedness in counter-terrorism measures

Especially after the murderous terrorist attack on Istanbul in Turkey recently, it has been daily exercising the nimble mind of our so-called intrepid PAP leaders, especially the unusually alert PM Lee Hsien Loong and the pushy Defence Minister Dr. Ng Eng Hen almost to the point of insanity on means and ways of softening the public to an imminent terrorist attack of the scale of Paris and Istanbul. That Singapore may be targeted for terrorist may not be a myth anymore. It's a question of when and not if. That Singapore may be attracted as a terrorist target may also be attributable to the blustering accounts by PAP Ministers, especially Dr. Ng Eng Hen of the so-called formidable forces at their command to counter any terrorist attack.

The latest gimmick is the establishment of the so-called Army Deployment Force (ADF) of battalion size with a rapid response of ten minutes to a terrorist attack. All this is very well for local consumption but what do you think of the terrorist reaction to such a bluster? Would it not be a challenge to them to target Singapore for all its bluster even if there was no such intention initially? Who would suffer in such an attack? Not the ministers or the armed forces.There is a Chinese saying: If you are careful you can drive a ten-thousand year ship (小心駛得萬年船). There is nothing to prevent Dr. Ng Eng Hen from continuing his blustering way, but it would be his peril.

It is therefore more prudent to assuage the public mind to our counter-terrorism measures in a less pushy manner so as not to incur the animosity of the terrorists. So far all these talks were about counter-terrorism measures. Has it not occurred to the high and mighty PAP leaders to lay out measures to deal with the aftermath of any terrorist attack? Are there no lessons to be learnt from the terrorist attacks in Paris and Istanbul? Conditions may well be so chaotic that it is difficult to distinguish terrorists from victims and it will be a time when it will require monumental effort to calm the public. Notwithstanding the so-called fool-proof immigration security system, if the terrorists are determined to smuggle themselves into Singapore, events in Paris and Istanbul had proved this can be achieved by the terrorists.They are suicide bombers and their whole aim is to smuggle themselves into Singapore to carry out their mission. They do not expect to leave Singapore alive.

Finally, has it ever occurred to our high-falutin PAP wallahs that the ordinary humble Singaporeans may be able to contribute some very good ideas to our counter-terrorism measures or the aftermath? Only that they have not been asked probably because they are not considered to have the requisite expertise.

May God bless Singapore?

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Is this another Sermon on the Mount?

It is a well-known fact that the Straits Times is a PAP propaganda organ. For it to come out now to portray itself as a purveyor of unvarnished news to the public is stretching the imagination to the limit. The sceptical public may want to know the motivation of the Straits Times in its editorial today casting unmitigated aspersion on the integrity of the TR Emeritus (TRE) when the issue of the erroneous reporting of the medical expenses of Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat has been satisfactorily clarified by TRE and other websites. TRE has already apologised for the inadvertent error and does the Straits Times consider that a pound of flesh is the more appropriate punishment?

No one benefits from aggravating the mishap of Minister Heng and what locus standi is the Straits Times on in insinuating that TRE is making Minister Heng the target of lies? Is the Straits Times not admitting that it lacks the ability to exercise proper judgement and due diligence (to quote the ST) on such a serious accusation?

As mentioned before, Mr. Heng is a well-liked minister and it is unfortunate that he is afflicted with a severe stroke in the course of his duty which requires prolonged hospitalisation and intensive care. As the cost of the hospital care is quite astronomical it is quite natural for some members of the public to wonder if this is shouldered by the taxpayers. Since the government has now clarified that the taxpayers will not be burdened with Mr. Heng's medical cost, it would have expected that matters will take their normal course of waiting for the complete recovery of Mr. Heng with TRE having apologised for the erroneous reporting and other websites giving their views in mitigating the TRE's error. In fact the whole issue is a storm in the teacup.

It is indeed mind-boggling that the Straits Times editor has found it fitting the revitalise the issue at this point and it will be interesting to know if this is done with a noble motivation. That the Straits Times has all along viewed TRE and other similar websites as undermining its monopoly of purveying unvarnished news to the public is not too far-fetched. So if it could expose TRE and other websites for disseminating gutter journalism, it would smooth the way for it to continue to disseminate PAP propaganda to the public. In this way the people who are short-changed will be the public.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Must the SPD be so overbearing in its statement?

It's a reminiscene of the British colonial days when you get civil servants writing in an uncultured manner chastising the disconcerted public for any minor infringement. Would you not think it is anachronistic if this happens in Independent Singapore today? Let's examine the so-called civilised statement of the Public Service Division (PSD) chastising the website TR Emeritus (TRE) for allegedly misleading the public that Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat's medical expenses were being paid by taxpayers. Is it not couched in unmistakable overbearing language and would it be expected of civil servants to show some civility in the exercise of their authority towards the public? Surely it is not beyond their ability to compose the statement with more civility without losing the severity of the admonition which they intend to convey.

Mr. Heng Swee Keat is quite a well-liked minister who has unfortunately suffered a severe stroke and is still in the Intensive Care Unit after more than a month. That the public is anxious to know the prognosis of his condition is quite natural. The TRE has inadvertenly published Mr. Heng's medical bill in the region of $500,000 to be paid by taxpayers.without first checking the veracity of the statement. It has since apologised to the government for its inadvertent mistake but added it is disappointed to be accused of misleading the public.

There is a saying that to err is human. To err and to mislead are two entirely different matter and it is obvious that the TRE has erred and not to mislead. A fine example of erring or misleading was in the blustering disclosure by the former Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan that he had paid only $8.00 for an operation and hospital stay some time ago. TRE can therefore be excused for a momentarily indiscretion.

In the public interest the proper attitude to adopt is to monitor the progress of the health condition of Mr. Heng Swee Keat and not how his medical bill is to be settled. Civil servants are not public masters and a showing of a little civility in dealing with the public will endear them to the populace. TRE is doing a public service by providing alternative news to the public from the PAP propaganda that the mainstream media, especially the Straits Times, is dishing out ad nauseam.

There is a Chinese saying : People are not grass or wood so who can not have erred but to err and can change is a virtuous act. (人非草木 孰能無過 過而能改 善莫大焉)

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Has the makings of a high-falutin and hubristic diplomat

The name Bilahari Kausikan has come into prominence recently for his high-falutin utterances on opposition politicians about their political views as if he was a PAP political office holder. He was a Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before he relinguished his post to become now an Ambassador-at-large. He has written a number of articles denigrating opposition politicians ostensibly in the nature of a political treatise by a prominent politician. He tried to impress with his so-called intricate erudite verbose writings and blatantly believed that this would draw attention from the public as to how clever he was, but in fact lacking in depth.

Let us examine his apparent motive in his esoteric immature behaviour. It is quite a fad nowadays for promising writers to pen articles on topical political subjects to gain prominence as a rational commentator and it will not be far-fetched to say that our honourable diplomat Bilahari saw this as an opportunity to make a name for himself. Of course it will not be doing justice for himself if in the course of his writing he did not ingratiate himself to the powers that be by writing something that is not very flattering to the opposition. As an Ambassador-at-large he must be thinking that he is in an unassailable position that the opposition cannot retaliate. He may be right that the opposition cannot do anything to rattle his position and so he just continues his antics with impunity.

We have other ambassadors-at-large who do not behave in his hubristic manner. In fact they really live up to their name in promoting cordial relations with the government. Workers' Party Pritam Singh and Singapore Democratic Party Dr. Paul Thambyiah have shown their civilised upbringing in not being too drastic in their response to Bilahari's attack on their character.

Bilahari is not too young and one would have thought that at his age there will be some maturity in his action towards others, especially members of the opposition. He is only a diplomat and not a politician and for a diplomat to take up an offense against an opposition politician is not something which an ordinary Singaporean can normally stomach. So for Mr. Bilahari it is not too late for you to redeem yourself by adopting a more conciliatory attitude towards the opposition. It is alright to be bombastic sometimes but you must do it with finesse. There is a Chinese saying: Turn the head and there is the shore - repent and salvation is at hand (回頭是岸)。

Friday, May 6, 2016

A cliffhanger Bukit Batok by-election

The last nine days have witnessed a very vigorous campaign by the PAP candidate Murali Pillai and SDP candidate Dr. Chee Soon Juan for votes of the Bukit Batok electorate. There had been daily meetings with the residents and PAP election rallies and SDP rallies. Both candidates worked very hard to capture the minds of the voters with their respective programmes and it looks like the BB voters are spoilt for choice in trying to decide which candidate to vote for.

PAP candidate Murali Pillai had been very meticulous in enumerating the benefits that he and his PAP colleagues from the Town Council and constituency have brought to the residents of Bukit Batok for the elderly, the children and healthcare especially for the elderly. In addition, he had the services of PAP big guns like PM Lee Hsien Loong and DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam to appeal to the voters to vote in his favour. His sixteen years of voluntary service to the constituency could also be a factor in his favour. Therefore, Mr. Murali sees himself as a candidate that deserves the support of the electorate.

SDP candidate Dr. Chee Soon Juan on the other hand is a more dramatic and flamboyant individual who shows great intent that he is a more favourable candidate with his diligence and acumen in fending off accusations of character flaws and management disabilities from his PAP opponents and giving a optimistic account of what he could do, if elected, to bring enhancements to the welfare and livelihood of Bukit Batok residents. He has assembled a transit team to take over the Town Council and to make it more efficient and resident-friendly that it will surpass the performance of PAP Town Councils. Most important he has pledged to work full time in the constituency as its MP to which Mr. Murali has no answer. Another important factor is that he will act as a potent alternative voice in Parliament. At times Dr. Chee had appeared to have gone over the top in his eagerness to expose the so-called 
 political flaws of the PAP Government which could not have been to his credit. SDP rallies had been better attended but, from past experiences, this is not an indication of better vote gathering. 

The polling starts today and judging from the vigorousness and competency of the respective campaign, the chances of the respective candidates appear to be equal with neither side appearing to have an overwhelming advantage. For Dr. Chee to romp home in this contest, he will need divine help to tilt the balance in his favour, for example a 50.01 per cent win. There is a Chinese saying: Heaven will not forsake a person with great pains taken in a plan (皇天不负苦心人). Whether this applies to Dr. Chee's case, only the election result will tell.