Now another heavy weight minister is crossing swords with an ordinary citizen, and a woman at that. Education Minister Heng Swee Kiat used his office to deliver a "stern response" to Mdm Ong for going to the police after her 12-year-old had his $60 haircut ruined by a scissors wielding teacher. The "simple fact", he preached, was that the boy had been reminded "over and over again" to trim his hair, and the school had sent a letter to the parent about the subject. Quoting a media commentary, Heng claims "the mother... did herself and her son no favours."
Mdm Ong's story: She made the police report to file a "personal record" only after calling up the Ministry of Education (MOE) and was told by an official that it would be fine to go to the police. That's Clint Eastwood phraseology for "Go ahead, make my day." Whatever your take about an overtly protective mom or an overtly obnoxious official, we share the same sentiments about Mdm Ong's last words on the hullabaloo, "There is no absolute right or wrong in this matter... it also takes two hands to clap."
Ashraf Khalil (see yesterday's post) explained in his book why the post Mubarak military men didn't have the mindset to handle being thrust into a democracy:
You're are talking about a military mentality. It's the first time anyone has tried to discuss anything with them.
A normal military general, he's either giving orders or receiving orders and carrying them out. The idea that that we can sit down together and I can tell them, 'This decision was wrong', it's outside of their culture.
Couldn't have put it better.