- Patrick Tan's background would have made him a suitable "Defence Medical Scientist".
- If the position was created just for him, it points to nepotism. On the other hand, it may have been his case which highlighted the usefulness of creating such a post.
- If the position was not retained following his exit, the evidence of MINDEF functioning with both fear and favour would be rather damning.
Saturday, July 30, 2011
On Fairness in National Service
The recent fracas about Dr Patrick Tan, son of presidential hopeful and former DPM Tony Tan, arguably escaping a doing proper NS term raises the old issue of fairness. Let me outline some of the relevant considerations:
I haven't been able to find anything about the role/career of "Defence Medical Scientist" on the MINDEF, DSO and DSTA web pages, so I've tentatively resolved the greyness for myself on this matter.
On my own experience, I myself disrupted, did my undergrad degree and my masters in what might essentially be operations research (same as Tony Tan amusingly, and at the same institution). Now, when I came back, I returned to 3rd Battalion Singapore Guards to a combat role. It was a good time. I did another ICT in July (it was a high key), and it was fun too. I can't really complain too much.
However, I could have been better deployed, the only time I used my knowledge was when I did a simple network simulation for NDP 2008 to identify choke points in the movement of performers to and from the floating platform. There was a certain SAF Operations Research Office in MINDEF and I would have definitely been better deployed there. My skill level would have been, conservatively putting it, between that of a Senior Analyst and Principal Analyst, and since the equivalent pay would be between $5k-$8k, that would have meant considerable cost savings to MINDEF, along with the introduction of new ideas to that office. (Well, the money may be peanuts to a certain some, but the ideas would be even more expensive to buy.)
It would not have been too difficult for the Central Manpower Base to have conducted interviews with returning scholars to determine if they might be better deployed elsewhere. It is markedly unfair if this process is only available to the privileged and well connected.
If the purpose of National Service is to train young men to be a cohesive fighting force to serve as a credible deterrent, the claim that a descendent or relative or a minster can better serve the nation in NS by not really doing NS is highly disingenuous and dishonest.