Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Sophistry of Law Minister K. Shanmugam

The general feeling is that there is a lack of moral integrity in the Law Minister K. Shanmugam in his tendentious way of expounding the quest of the late President Ong Teng Cheong for an account or details of the Singapore reserves. Minister Shanmugam showed a fertile imagination in asserting that President Ong was not " stonewalled" and was in fact provided with "a complete listing of State buildings and lands" by the Government. He further asserted that President Ong wanted all of them valued at (then) current values which could have taken 56 man-years.

Quite fantastic! This was the first time that Singaporeans had ever heard that President Ong had asked for a listing of State buildings and lands. All along it was made clear in the public's mind that President Ong had asked for an account or details of the Singapore reserves which had caaused great consternation to the PAP leaders. For some esoteric reason, the PAP leaders considered it prudent not to share this information on Singapore reserves with President Ong lest it could lead to some unforseen consequences. So the PAP wallahs hatched a grotesque excuse to President Ong that it would take 30 years of work to provide the information the President had sought for.

President Ong was not so naive as not to realise that this was an underhand trick of the Government to prevent him access to the information he asked for. And as to be expected, this was the beginning of his turbulent relationship with the PAP Government, which is never known to be magnanimous. This state of affairs continued until the retirement of President Ong. The PAP leaders continued their vindictiveness even after his death by not according him a State Funeral, when other lesser dignitaries were accorded this honour when they died.

The disrespectful impertinence towards President Ong by the PAP leaders over Singapore reserves has continued to fester among Singaporeans who from time to time showed outrage on this disrespect. President Ong was regarded as a People's President and was adored by Singaporeans, especially the Chinese-educated. There is a prospect that this will continue to haunt the Government and so Mr. K. Shanmugam, as Law Minister, took upon himself to try to put the ghost to rest. With due respect to him, he lacks the finesse and moral integrity to put up a convincing explanation. He started on the wrong footing by asserting that there was no "stonewalling" of President Ong which no decent Singaporean would believe. Then out of the blue with a sleight-of-hand he introduced a so-called "complete listing of State buildings and lands" provided by the Government. Mr. Shanmugam did not mention if President Ong was satisfied with the Government's presentation, which would have obfuscated him, let alone satisfied. The puzzling question is why should President Ong want a listing of State buildings and lands when it was clear in everyone's mind what he asked for was about Singapore's reserves.

If Minister K. Shanmugam expects his sophistry to dispel the suspicion of Government's disrespectful treatment of President Ong, he will have to try harder and with more sincerity.


Eric said...

It seems that Mr. Shamugam might be factually correct.

The Singapore reserves include both cash and asset components. Mr. Ong was trying to ascertain the asset portion through asking for a full listing. See Mr. Ong's interview with Asiaweek (, and his response to "So the government had been stonewalling you, the president, for three years?"


Eric said...

I think this is of significance too. The EP's duty as the custodian of our reserves goes beyond the direct audit, but also includes his or her explicit approval.

"In the last year of his presidency (1998) Ong found out through the newspapers that the government aimed to submit a bill to Parliament to sell the POSB to DBS. The POSB was, at that time, a government statutory board whose reserves were under the president's protection, this move was procedurally inappropriate and did not regard Ong's significance as the guardian of the reserves; he had to call and inform the government of this oversight. In spite of this, the sale proceeded and the DBS owns POSB and its name to this present day." (From

Anonymous Craven (AC) said...

Sort of remind me of Cedric Foo's explanation of White Horse in the Parliament...

Alan Wan said...

Incidentally the question for our PAP govt to answer is, if the outgoing President is unable to produce a complete listing of the reserves that he was supposed to guard during his tenure and handover to the incoming President, how can anyone be convinced that who shall be ultimately responsible if some hanky panky occurred along the way ?

Does it mean that we have to take our PAP govt's word that no hanky panky can ever occur during PAP's term of govt ?

chikako-chan said...

"The PAP leaders continued their vindictiveness even after his death by not according him a State Funeral, when other lesser dignitaries were accorded this honour when they died."

I had initially thought that the lack of a state funeral was a political issue, but it was not. The government did not deny him a state funeral instead apparently the Ong family rejected it. President Ong passed away just 4 days before CNY and a state funeral would have 7 days of mourning and would have extended into the CNY period. President Ong was reluctant to "trouble people" and this was also acknowledged by his son at one of the speeches read out at his funeral. In fact, after all was done, the SAF guards and his bodyguards etc only made it back home with their families on the night of CNY eve.

But I do agree with you that some individuals who received a state funeral weren't as worthy of a state funeral as Ong.

Overmydeadbody said...

That Chinese New Year excuse could be used either way, to deny him the honour of a Presidential funeral or a convenient excuse from the family for the disgrace imposed. Point is who will tell us the truth now? Whatever, President Ong TC's requests should now be answered with no further excuse and listing and valuation can be two different exercises on the total National wealth. You cannot guard what you have no exact knowledge of.

Tantrick said...

Another arrogant bastard in Singapore. I doubt that he can win any Singaporean's heart.

I love your blog by the way... good job. Eloquent and very bilingual, it's hard to see this quality in singapore.

Btw regarding the salary, now that George Yeo is out of the seat, can we suggest that he go and look for a job that will pay millions to him? And we are talking about not Singapore government affiliation position.

My professor and i was talking about this and both of us doubt that he could. I would love to have george yeo to prove us wrong.

Here is my email address. I would love to befriend you.