Thursday, September 13, 2012

Not Exactly Conversational Mode

Not too long ago, a minister of state got an old man evicted from his HDB flat after intervening in a typical spat between neighbors. The poor chap is adamant that he had been framed by his neighbour, a 74-year-old woman. MP for Marine Parade GRC Tan Chuan-Jin wrote on his Facebook page that the resident had been “bullying his downstairs neighbour repeatedly” until the “poor woman was distraught and at her wit’s end”.

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.

30 comments:

  1. unfortunately, i have to disagree with you on this......

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    1. Me too. That mother was too protective. Well done, teacher !About time, Authorities are respected and walk the talk.You know who I am referring to ? The SPF, the MAS, the LTA,the whole gamut of "As". Might as well, include the "Bs" & "Cs", no ?

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    2. 3 points:

      1. The principal failed to take responsibility for the teacher's act - that is KBW territory of "The buck stops below me" attitude. She also failed as the chief disciplinarian - whose duty is it to ensure the warnings are followed up?

      2. The school gave warnings (in plural) and it has a rule to cut students' hair. Is that reasonable? Well, there are schools which do not have such rules - last I checked, parents are free to choose. Mrs Ong obviously refused to have her son's hair "re-coiffured" in the time allowed, so does the school have to carry on sitting down and talk, delay exams until the talk is conclusive?

      3. analogy in Tahrir Sq is bunk - the military men never bothered to sit down with the sheeple and sheeple never had a choice to go to another country. Parents can enrol elsewhere, even in haute coiffure classes for their fashion-conscious kids if so desired.

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  2. I thought the school principal already confirmed to the mother that it was wrong for the teacher to do it. And now all the public uproar, a 180degrees U-turn for the Minister to say it was right afterall for the teacher to acted like that.

    Ditto it was also alright for LKY to behave like a bully or gangster with a hatchet waiting for his enemy at a cul-de-sac.

    Just imagine if someone go and tell the police he/she has a knife waiting at the void deck, what do you thing our police will do to them ?

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  3. Not trying to defend what the "Bully" has done, but one point that sticks out is a fact that he's diagnosed with nasopharyngeal cancer in 2007.

    The couple are clearly not well to do; not sure what stage his condition is and history, do we know if there has been deficit of care in seeking treatment? Is he receiving chemo or radio therapy etc.. he might have overwhelming frustrations that are difficult to control as result of his condition, and may act out irrationally or uncontrollably which may explain his behavior.

    Rather than giving surface diagnosis of an "unreasonable bully" , sometimes, few has deep psychologically issues that tends to be overlooked. Instead of using abnormal trying cases like this to highlight disharmony issue and turn it into an ugly neighborly dispute, I would have preferred HDB/MP showed that they problem-solve it with deep listening, truly understand the underlying issue with compassion -- as a society, we are admittedly not very good at.

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    1. Is it terminal? Poor odd job laborer, no house and still want to evict him, must be desperate! Typical PAP corporate punishment style - do as I warn or else.. 赶尽杀绝. Is like giving the patient pain-enhancer instead of pain-killer.

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  4. There was a time when parents treated teachers with respect. Teacher was really a honourable profession. People may have since become smarter and more intelligent, but not necessarily more moral and wise.

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    1. Yes, those were the days before we had principals like the ACS(I) guy who was let off without accounting for his shameful conduct with a teaching staff.

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  5. Seen my fair shre of spoilt brats and abnoxious parents. Both mother and son should be slapped in public.

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    1. Don't slap the mother so quickly, we need her to produce more kids and improve the TFR. Whack the school bus driver instead, for taking so many twist and turns, just to score political points.

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    2. The mother might have overeacted with a silly police report, but the teacher is wrong too for not at least give a courtesy call to the parent. How much effort/work does it take to pick up a phone and let her know about an intending discipline? And I am just curious, where the hell is the damn principal? Why was there no mediation by him/her? Did he/she take a stand or just being cowardly here to let it get escalated to such drama?

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    3. The school's principal, Mrs Jasmail Singh Gill, agreed with Madam Ong that the teacher had no business cutting the boy's hair.

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    4. Ah, so the school head got argued and abused into the ground issit? Many of the problems that we are facing today, and almost all that we will face in the future will be a result of parents spoiling their little darlings. At the rate things are going, the mother will be spending a lot of time in camp when her little boy boy does NS. He won't just need a maid to carry his knapsack, but another to push his stroller. Then in a fit of uncontrolled frustration, he'll turn the gun he has on others.

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  6. Bully got dealt with, mother had some sense knocked into her. What's the problem? Would you have preferred for the lady being bullied to be ignored and overprotective parents demanding how our schools are run?

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  7. And this is why we have courts and lawyers and judges.

    So nobody, including Millionaire Ministers can suka suka be judge, jury & executioner.

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  8. It is truly bad and worrisome that our Cabinet Members are involved in minor cases of the people.

    Do we have discipline in our people and Laws in the
    Land???

    How can Cabinet Members be doing those simple jobs of settling minor disputes. What are the Ministries and their Officers doing?

    patriot

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    1. how many MPS cases do you think they truly handle each month? Likely handful cases only but they have to give impression that they are actually walking the grounds. So they cite few oddball cases. Just like the Queenstown wayang for the British Royalty, is just to show they "know the grounds". Ditto to national conversation.

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    2. All these cases just highlight the pettiness and the irrationality this population has sunk into.

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    3. Why Cabinet Ministers messing with simple law & order matters?
      My answer : because, there are no Law enforcement from proper Authorities.

      Ha, ha!

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    4. Or perhaps technology/social media had brought them to the forefront of attention, unlike before.

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  9. Cutting the boy's hair is definitely wrong as the teacher had infringe on the boy's personal rights. What the teacher should have done is to give him a verbal warning, followed by a written warning and then suspension and finally dismiss the student if he continues with his indiscipline.

    As an analogy, if you park your car in a handicapped parking lot, you get a ticket and if you continue to keep your car there, it can be towed away. It would never OK under any circumstances be vandalised this car just because he committed an offence to park in a reserved lot.

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    1. Logical, if you are super law abiding.

      In real life, a ticket and a tow means nothing to a lot of rich but lousy drivers.

      Yes, vandalism is a sizeable offence, meaning the Police if they can be found, can arrest the culprit on the spot.

      A "smarter" way to deal with such irresponsible drivers. Sorry, I cannot think of any.

      Anyone can offer a suggestion or two?

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    2. Without breaking the law?
      Stomp and Shame lah..;-)

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    3. in Taipei vehicles that are parked illegally will be towed away and stored in some area that is about 100 miles outside the city, the owner has to personally retrieve his vehicle after paying a fine plus towing and storage charges.
      perhaps spore authorities can tow vehicles parked in handicapped lots to be ferried to Batam and the same process apply like in Taipei.
      Batam governor will surely welcome the additional income and repeat offenders will only be those who are truly daft. LOL

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  10. The teacher need to be educated in anger management.
    Mdm Ong need to be educated in parenting.
    Education Minister needs to be educated in education :p

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    1. Just why he is in charge of national conversation, not national education. Just talk only what, wayang lah! ;-)

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    2. Cher cut boy boy's hair.
      Mother buay song call mata.
      Minister lan lan.

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    3. Boy warned and adviced multiple times. verbally and in writing
      Enforcement is done
      Parent complain
      Minister stands by teachers actions as should be.

      This is ridiculous when enforcement is done, complain, when no enforcement also complain.

      Nothing satisfies

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  11. Chiu Ka Ying, 16, sought help from her ITE counsellor in dealing with her personal problems last year, ended up being molested by her Life Skills lecturer, Michael Tay Jau Jen, 36, who told investigators that it was consensual. The ITE investigation report said the allegations could not be confirmed, but it found that Mr Tay had behaved unprofessionally. Haunted by the incident, the girl jumped to her death from the sixth storey of a building at ITE College East at Simei Avenue. Such is the state of the educators in Singapore.

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