The announcement of the replacement of Eric Tan, CPIB director for supervisory lapses in order to rebuild public trust in the bureau hit recently by a $1.7 million scandal did not take the public by surprise. That he had been completely in the dark as CPIB director when his enterprising assistant director at the bureau, Edwin Yeo Swee Hong, was siphoning off bureau funds to the tune of $1.7 million meant for the bureau operations from 2008 until his ruse was uncovered last year is mind-boggling. So his replacement as CPIB director is only a natural corollary of his supervisory lapses, otherwise the Government will find itself in an untenable position to try to rebuild public trust in the bureau. That Edwin Yeo had been able to embezzle bureau funds for four years without detection under the watchful eye of his director is more in the nature of a fiction.
From past observation of his highfalutin character, especially in his high-handed handling of the invited guest list of former CPIB directors in connection with the 60th anniversary celebration of the bureau, he stood out as a director of pomposity, totally bereft of humility and civility. In a fit of funkiness, he decided to exclude me,as a former CPIB director, from the anniversary celebration in order to ingratiate himself into the favour of the former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew who was a guest of honour at the celebration. Eric Tan had a morbid fear that my presence would cause great embarrassment to his honoured guest Lee Kuan Yew because of our mutual antagonism. I was however not sore that I was excluded but was livid that Eric Tan had not the civility inform me beforehand and I had to learn about it after the celebration from the press report. I wrote to him in the most civilised manner requesting an explanation but he persisted in his arrogance in not even replying to my letter, much less to offer any apology. To add to his impudence, he had the gall to get his man to leave an unsigned copy of the anniversary coffee table book at my doorstep. There were blog postings both by me and by TR Emeritus castigating Eric Tan for his arrogance and his lack of civility.
This is now so much water under the bridge and normally it would serve no useful purpose to harp on the incident except to show in this instance the uncivilised character of the man. His present downfall is a lessen which Eric Tan must imbibe seriously and carry out a soul-searching of his actions. Above all, he must carry out a transformation of his pompous character and show more humility and civility in his dealing with other people. At the present moment he does not know where he will go after he leaves CPIB at the end of September but if he is willing to change for the better this will no doubt stand him in good stead in his future career.
It is a bit uncanny, but I had the unerring feeling that some kind of retribution will befall Eric Tan for his unprincipled and uncivilised behaviour towards me and any other people. There is no hard feeling and certainly, as in the Chinese saying, no taking pleasure in the calamity of others, (幸災乐禍). On the contrary, we wish him every success in his future career.