Moving to

I'm moving to Mostly.

I plan to use that site as a "self-marketing website" of sorts and to manage content in a way that I would otherwise not be able to do on blogger alone.

This blog will stay, ostensibly for more provisional ideas prior to refinement. I'll be gradually moving content (I still like) over to the other website. =)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Trust Me, I'm with the Government

A thread started on HardwareZone yesterday is titled "SAF firework Projectile narrowly missed 20 yrs old girl at One Fullerton - NDP act blur at first", making reference to an event reported by the Straits Times as "Projectile lands on diner's plate during fireworks display" (ST, 31 Jul 2011). What happened was, during the NDP preview show, a hot, grey, 10cm-long object with some black powdery substance inside landed on a young lady's dinner plate at One Fullerton. A spokesman for the organizing committee denied that the grey projectile was part of the NDP fireworks display when alerted to the incident by the Straits Times. The following day, the Straits Times followed up with "Projectile that landed on plate was from NDP" (ST, 1 Aug 2011).
    'We were having dinner and enjoying the fireworks when suddenly, a projectile fell from the sky and bounced off my daughter's plate,' said Mr Sia, 52.
Noting that ballistics were involved, death or serious injury would have been possible. The Sia family should be thanking their guardian angel, he really earned his pay that evening.

Was this simply a case of the classic you think, I thought, who confirm? Or perhaps a more serious (but poor) attempt at deceit on the part of the spokesman. Trust Me, I'm with the Government?

This comes on the heels of the deferment-cum-posting semi-scandal of a certain son of a certain DPM. A press statement by then Second Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen stated that permission had been given for exceptional talent:
    Straits Times, 13 February 2009

    IN THE last 10 years, fewer than 10 Singaporean sportsmen and musicians were given permission to defer their full-time national service (NS).

    These deferments are often sought when these young men want to pursue their studies, training or represent Singapore in international competitions.

    However, rarely is approval given because it is vital to uphold the national service system’s strength and integrity by making it universal and fair to all Singaporeans, said Second Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen yesterday.

    Also, the national service system provides for Singapore’s national security and survival, he noted.

    These factors form the basis of the three principles underlying national service, said Dr Ng, adding that permission had been given for exceptional talent. He was replying to Nominated MP Eunice Olsen, who wanted the Ministry of Defence to be more flexible in giving deferments.

    She referred to a Straits Times report last December about Mr Keegan Ng. The 20-year-old had won the Marion S. Gray Outstanding Musician Award at age 11.

    He wanted to study piano at the Eastman School of Music in New York, but was told he had to complete his national service first. He has since given up his plan and is now deciding whether to study accountancy or business administration.
Save his blood ties to a powerful politician, Patrick Tan was as far from exceptional then as he is now. A look at his research interests and publications reveals some important but hardly ground breaking work as well as a lot of work of the typical "minor extensions of existing work" type. (This important work I'm pointing to is his group's current work on mining DNA microarray data to improve treatment methods for breast cancer.) His current academic record is good, but hardly outstanding. His potential for research after his Bachelor of Arts degree and before his PhD was not clear either. Why was he rated to be exceptional talent? If no favouritism was shown, then logically it would then be a matter of (intentional or unintentional) gross negligence through allowing an incompetent (in the technical sense of the term) assessor to rate Patrick Tan's potential.

Furthermore, on the matter of his posting, a spokesperson for MINDEF told The Straits Times that Patrick Tan's posting as a "defence medical scientist" was done "according to vocational guidelines". This is doubtful as there does not seem to be such a vocation. If there were, it'd be a career track with that vocation name. (I'd appreciate it if someone would point me to publicly available information on this "vocation" if it exists. I just can't find it. It's like WMD in Iraq all over again, I can't prove that no such information exists.)

I'm disappointed. These are no S$12M SLA scandal, but they do not add to the credibility of the public service in a political climate where it is most needed. Many public servants manage their dealings with the public with integrity (though with a bit of fear of sticking their necks out). But now that "Trust Me, I'm with the Government" is not going to cut it, life for most public servants may get more difficult.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Of course no govt officer would do anything to damage his career in the service! The more senior grades are on pensionable service, so they aren't going to do anything stupid.