The piece below is a letter submitted by one of our readers.
By Rachel Pang
I am a mother of two children, aged seven and 13. I am writing to express my views regarding the online remarks made by Calvin Cheng.
Children are born into this world with a blank state of mind – tabula rasa. It is already unfortunate that in certain parts of the world, children are thrust into the battlefield at an early age, involved in armed skirmishes, and indoctrinated with ideologies that sanction the taking of lives. I dare say this is a kind of childhood most Singaporeans can never relate to.
Furthermore, there are deep socio-political fault lines running through the history of warfare in the Middle East that cannot be resolved without concerted efforts from international armed forces across the globe.
Then there is the issue of the global terrorism threat.
Calvin Cheng makes it seem like an all-out extermination of an entire race is necessary for peace. Perhaps he chooses a less “complicated” world view that is congruent with his shallow understanding of Middle Eastern politics vis-a-vis the West. I’m afraid it is such banal reasoning that is the cause of most of the conflicts in the world we see today.
It is beyond me how someone of his prestige could make such a remark. I cannot imagine such words coming from the mouths of our ministers or other personages in high office. I am glad that none has surfaced.
It does not matter that Calvin Cheng is a member of the Media Literacy Council. He could very well be a part of the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, or the Singapore Armed Forces for that matter, it does not matter.
The latter scenario conjures not a small bit of trepidation though. I’m pretty sure our army generals in the SAF would not be on the same frequency as Calvin Cheng. Thank God.
What matters really is the perfunctory cold-blooded statement that followed his initial remark about killing terrorists – “and their children too.” It is a statement that puts our humanity to shame. The public furore is justified.
Although he tries to defuse the situation by alluding to armed child soldiers, it is really a foolish attempt. As a member of good standing in the public eye, he should not have made the statement in the first place. One should be held responsible for what one says. Where is the accountability?
I do not wish my children to grow up being influenced by such callous remarks on social media, coming from a public figure who represents the government in some way or another.
Calvin Cheng should make an unreserved apology. Nothing else will suffice.