Sunday, May 1, 2011

Of Responsibility And Accountability

Mr Chiam See Tong, who spoke on Friday at Jurong West Ave 3, harped on the Mas Selamat Kastari episode as promised. He said that as the highest paid ministers in the world, Singapore ministers need to be more accountable, "Take for example our Minister Wong Kan Seng."

Chiam, as well as many others in Singapore, weren't easily satisfied with Wong's "apology" expressed in parliament: "This should never have happened. I am sorry that it has." Recently DPM Wong told the local media, “Of course, the first mistake cannot be obliterated; it was there, I owned up to it, as a minister I took responsibility for it — that’s the right thing to do.”

Naturally, there's a lot more left unsaid about the double standards in play.

An uncle who worked in the production line for HP9815, HP9825, and HP9835 series of desktop computers at Hewlett Packard Depot Road was only too glad to fill in the blanks. The popular Eurasian personnel manager of more than a decade's service was named in a divorce suit when the cuckolded husband took his errant wife to court. HP then was a model company of great integrity and expected the same high level of ethical standards from its employees. Although the PM was not sued, his name was just mentioned in the messy divorce proceedings, it was enough tarnish for HP to sack him immediately. Wong joined during the subsequent organisation reshuffle as Benefits Manager, and then moved on to Personnel Manager. He had a ring side seat to see how responsibility and accountability works in the real world.

The irony is that Wong was introduced by Lee Kuan Yew as the private sector candidate for the team, since the rest were mostly from the public service and the SAF (an going practice even to this day). So when Wong talked about the "right thing to do", he conveniently decided to forget the lessons from the past.

The "right thing to do", at least for a gentleman of honour, would have been to offer his resignation, and leave the decision to the PM. Trouble is, as Lee Kuan Yew once put it, "There is no such thing as an English gentleman anymore." Ditto the Chinese gentleman is a rare bird if you can find one. Especially among the PAP ranks.


  1. Wong can sing so he gets to stay. Besides, who can bear to part with the security of a millions of dollars paycheck? Country security just have to take a back seat. That HP incident too, like most seasoned PAP, he has selective memories I'm sure. Sincerely hope Chiam & his new brilliant team will triump but it remains a slim hope.

  2. Not sure the author is aware or your readers are also aware. Wong KS is related to lee Kuan yew and current pm lee. How so? Lee Kim yew, MM Lee's younger brother, has a daughter whom Wong married. Therefore that makes Wong a relative to mm lee family. He is cousin-in-law to PM lee. Whether this relationship unfairly influences his need to resign from mas selamat case, I let readers form your own conclusion. One point readers need to note though is that in a most reputable MNCs, it is normal practice to any new employee who join to declare whether he/she has relatives in the company, and if have, who are they and what position they occupy.

  3. Sorry, guys, Wong did marry into the Lee family, but not THE Lee Familee. He met his wife when both were teachers, and her maiden name just happens to be spelled similarly.

  4. How come it was also reported that he was related to Mrs. LKY, now which is which ?

    Maybe it's better for our PM to keep any releationship secret, otherwise have to do another 'Steve Tan' ?

  5. I think that is one aspect of our parliament here, which has been subject to criticism by others who are not supporters of the PAP incumbent, that it is often a case of people related to each other by a family network, cronyism, and so on. Singaporeans rarely mention that some of the current PAP's young candidates are sons of MPs.

  6. Other than bringing up the Selamat issue, Chiam should ask Wong KS publicly, as DPM i.e second in command to PM Lee, Wong must state whether he agrees with Mah BT, that HDB flats are affordable, are subsidized and also if he supports Mah in not disclosing actual construction costs to the public, whether he Wong KS, knows how much is in our reserves, the amount of losses incurred by GIC and Temasek to date, whether he has travelled by public transport lately to experience the overcrowding, whether he agrees with public sentiments voicing their disappointment with Raymond Lim, Ng Eng Hen, etc, etc.

    The point is, direct every big time minister to comment on each other's poor performance, let the public see how they lie for each other.
    It helps the public to understand why the whole bunch needs to be voted out and most importantly, no reason to fear a dying old despot who in truth is the biggest coward !