Can you imagine anything more clownish than a deputy prime minister snoozing away during a speech by his fellow- DPM Wong Kan Seng in Parliament? DPM Teo Chee Hean was caught by camera. We have just witnessed a clownish spectacle of the minister and secretary- general of the NTUC who said in Parliament that he was deaf to the criticisms of an opposition MP and we are now presented with the comical spectacle of a deputy prime minister snoozing while Parliament was in session. If Mr. Wong Kan Seng's discourse can induce somnolence in Mr. Teo Chee Hean, he can certainly apply for a patent for insomnia cure.
DPM Teo Chee Hean has been given wide publicity as the man of the moment appointed by the Prime Minister to improve national productivity. With his somnolent performance in Parliament, do Singaporeans really believe that he has the right credentials for the important task. When he can snooze off during a Parliamentary session, what is there to give the public the confidence that he will stay alert in his productivity job. As he is also the Defence Minister, is he setting a good example to his soldiers? If any soldier is caught sleeping on his job, how is he going to discipline the soldier? There will definitely be double standards in punishment meted out to the offending soldier.
It may be argued that there may be extenuating circumstances in DPM Teo's case, as some ministers and government MPs found sleeping during Parliamentary sessions is sometimes a common sight, but a deputy prime minister is not a ordinary mortal. He is next in line to the prime minister and acts for the latter in his absence. Can you imagine the prime minister being caught snoozing in Parliament? There will be mayhem which will lead to further deterioration of confidence in the government.
Maybe in the eyes of the government DPM Teo Chee Hean is a minister of sterling character. With his fat obscene pay of $3 million a year he is expected to give a sterling performance rather than be caught sleeping on the job. He is in charge of our Army, Navy and Air Force and these forces look up to him for sterling leadership. Good leaders learn from their mistakes and improve on them. Let us hope that DPM will learn from his experience.
We may not see the end of such comic operas. It may be appropriate to conclude with a famous saying of the Chinese philosopher Confucius: I do not wish to see it any more. (wu bu yu guan zhi yi)