Saturday, April 19, 2008

Public responsibility

When Parliament seats on Monday, Singaporeans will get answers to many of the questions about the Mas Selamat escape; so says a report in Today.

Members of parliament have filed several questions. But looking at the questions, we can clearly see that the opposition MPs are only interested in pointing fingers and apportioning blame. Mr Chiam See Tong (Potong Pasir) for example, wants to know how the escape occurred. Low Thia Kiang (Hougang) asks for an update on the manhunt, the estimated expenditure on it and whether investor confidence and Singapore’s reputation have been affected. And non-constituency MP, Sylvia Lim’s question is downright mischievous. She wants the PM to explain the Government’s approach to taking responsibility for such major lapses.

The PAP MP, Mr Teo Ho Pin (Bukit Panjang), chair of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Home Affairs and Law, on the other hand is much more responsible. He is not interested in pointing fingers. He is more concerned with bigger issues like how to ease traffic congestion at the land checkpoints. Above all, he wants the PM to address the vital issue of public responsibility. Dr Teo said: “Hopefully he will touch on the idea that public responsibility is important. The Government could not be responsibility for everything.”

How magnanimous. How noble. I am almost moved to tears.

The answer to Ms Lim’s irresponsible question is obvious isn’t it? In fact, simply looking at the noble PAP MP’s questions will give you the answer.

First of all, let me tell you who is NOT responsible. The government is not responsible; at least not the ministers and top civil servants. Just look at all the past disasters that happened in Singapore. Was the minister or the perm sec of the National Development ministry responsible for the Nicoll Highway collapse of April 2004? Was the minister for defence or the army chief responsible for the ‘accidental drowning’ of 2SG Hu Enhuai 2003?

Who then is responsible? Answer: the Singaporean public. Their bo-chap attitude of leaving everything to the government is responsible not only for the escape of Mas Selamat, but also for his ability to evade capture for two whole months. How is it possible for one man to escape the huge dragnet put up by our army and police on such a tiny island? Obviously he must have help from many friends. If the public had been more vigilant, these friends would have been identified and apprehended long ago.

My answer to Singaporeans is this. Ask not what your government can do for you; but ask what have you been doing for the government.

Related post.


Aidil Omar said...


So 9/11 is really the american citizen's fault?

Gary Teoh said...

We the residents of singapore have to be responsible for the mistake of the government because we are the one who voted them into parliament. It is our fault!

Anonymous said...

Let me put it this way - all of us living here, who cherish this country, have a responsibility towards it. Haven't we hear of this saying: 'When the destiny of a country is threatened, every citizen has a responsibility'. The people elects the govt to provide good leadership, and in turn the govt has to provide good welfare and protection to its people. This does not mean that the people should stand back with folded arms leaving everything to the govt. If the 'bochap' attitude spreads to all levels of our society, then I would say this country has not much of a future.

Anonymous said...

private sector pay
private sector responsibility
as simple as that.....

not to mention other honest mistake

Jack said...

precisely...when it comes to their pocket...they pact with the private sectors, but when it comes to accountability ...they say no. Any companies in this world will continue to hire a CEO paying them millions if they are not delivery? No. Then why should we the tax payers do so?

Anonymous said...

The M Selamat great escape story has finally come out in parliament. The shocking truth was that this escape was made possible mainly due to an ungrille window in the toilet. Fingers start pointing to who are to be blamed and eventually the main culprit seems to be the supt of the detention camp. He seems to be oblivious to the need to have a grille enforced window, in his fertile mind just cutting the latch will do, despite being pointed out by his subordinate of the obvious risk, fully knowing the fact that he is running a detention centre for hardened criminals, not just a hotel for tourists - hence uncompromising attention to details is his responsibility. Even ordinary toilet maintenance workers keep a checklist to enforce efficiency. What happened to those so called experienced officers in the detention centre? Are they in dreamland?