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.