Below is a letter submitted to TOC for publication, it was originally said to have been sent to ST Forum Editor Liaw Wy-Cin, which was rejected or censored as the letter writer puts it.
By David L K See
“The PAP Govt may fool SOME People SOME of the time, but definitely NOT ALL The People ALL The Time”
I am a 68-year old tertiary-educated Pioneer Generation citizen who had completed full-time National Service. Although a retiree, I am still paying various taxes , such as GST and property tax.
Just like myself, many concerned parents and taxpayers are flabbergasted by the two recently reported issues of widespread public concern – government financial lapses and sexualised orientation games at National University of Singapore – with the Education Ministry (MOE) involved in both..
And rightly so, because both issues have recurred year after year over the past ten years. Thus, the urgent need now to nip in the bud these two issues once-and-for-all.
On government financial lapses, the recent Auditor-General’s Office (AGO) Report is peppered with phrases like poor management, lack of financial accountability, no proper system, laxity in control, failure to obtain approval, lack of documentation, irregularities in procurement, conflict of interest, overpayments and ineffective monitoring.
For example, MOE was taken to task for its tardiness on the repayment of outstanding tuition fee loans and study loans totalling $511.49 million..
Public funds are the hard-earned monies of Singaporeans collected through numerous taxes. Recurring financial lapses involving public funds totalling millions of dollars will mean our taxpayers being called upon to pay more taxes in an era of increasing job losses and High Cost of Living.
Following the annual AGO Report, the hitherto practice is for the Minister-in-charge to leave it to the respective Permanent Secretaries of ministries and CEOs of statutory boards to respond, but the latter will conveniently passed the buck further down to unnamed junior officials to issue perfunctory replies which then disappear into one big black hole.
The effective deterrent solution to nip the problem in the bud, is to issue an official Press Release in the joint names of the Minister-in-charge and respective Senior Civil Servant on what is being done to remedy the lapses in recovering lost government revenue, how much monies were recovered and how much remain unrecoverable. This is a visible demonstration of joint public accountability at both political and bureaucratic levels.
On sexualised university games, these will denigrate the dignity of female students and tarnish the reputation of the university.
Reported incidents of sexual harassment and bullying include a boy doing push-ups on top of a girl with his crotch against her face; a male and female freshman acting out an incestuous rape scene between a young man and his younger sister; guys and girls passing M&M chocolates to each other with their mouths (an unhygienic act promoting the spread of saliva-borne diseases).
An outraged mother rightly remarked “Enough is enough. It has been a whole decade and yet nothing has changed. Such activities have a long term impact, not just on students, but on Singapore’s image as well.”
Acting Education Minister Ong Ye Kung’s Facebook post on the matter is not proactive enough to nip the problem in the bud. The effective deterrent solution is an MOE Press Release issued in the joint names of Minister Ong and NUS President Tan Chorh Chuan stating firmly that such activities will not be tolerated by both the ministry and university. Also, culprits will be severely dealt with by immediate expulsion and not just some unspecified “strong disciplinary action”.
An unnamed NUS official had also previously issued a typically long-winded defensive statement. Civil Service Head Peter Ong now owes the public a credible explanation on why, in our supposedly First Class Civil Service, “nameless and faceless” public servants are allowed to hide behind anonymous titles like “NUS spokesman” and “Ministry spokesperson”. Such practices will only encourage a management culture lacking in personal responsibility and public accountability.
Indeed, as what MAS managing director Ravi Menon recently said on curbing money-laundering lapses of banks: “We are beginning to take a different tack because I think naming and shaming hurts them more than financial penalties,”