Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen

Sending troops to Iraq cannot be a top-level decision that is passed down for reasons unknown

Based on a recent report on the Straits Times, Singapore is set to increase its troop presence in Iraq. To justify this decision, Dr Ng Eng Hen stated that “for Singapore to not contribute when there has been “most significant gains” in taking back Iraq “is not within our character. ” What are less clear is what the “most significant gains” are and how these gains have benefited Singapore.

While I understand that not every detail can be made public due to the sensitive nature of national defense, more elaboration is definitely warranted given that sending our young men to foreign soil to fight a war in which they run the risk of being tortured and/or killed is a very serious issue indeed.

Do the gains relate to information sharing that help us nab potential terrorists who may wish to perpetuate acts of terror within Singapore? Is there a financial or economic gain profit in supporting a war machine? Is it to ingratiate itself with the US now that relations with China seem to have cooled somewhat?

Some detail ought to be presented and debated in parliament in order for a well thought out decision to be made. Has this debate ever taken place? Judging from published information to date, it would appear that there has been minimal discussion on this in Parliament. Sure, there have been announcements and speeches – but that is a whole other kettle of fish to a proper debate.

From what I can see this decision seems to be fait accompli!

Soldiers are a state resource. There should, therefore, be some level of accountability and transparency as to how they are utilised. It should not simply be a top-level decision that is passed down for reasons unknown. Lives may be lost and for the families whose loved ones are being deployed for war, they deserve to know more than a vague statement of “considerable gains”.

I don’t know enough to comment on the justifiability of the decision. I do however have concerns as to how this decision was made and how it is to be implemented. While I will not, at this point, go so far as to say that the decision is unmeritorious, I do think that more information should be provided so that the MPs can at least flesh out the prescient issues. Was this decision even put to a vote within Parliament?

Our lives should not be put at risk over something that we have no information about. We reserve and deserve a right to have a say in this and the government needs to provide the basis for sending our soldiers to what could very well be a one-way trip!

This quite simply put, is unacceptable. Our Member of Parliaments are voted to represent our interests, let them do their job. What are MPs for if they can’t even have the right to discuss the potential life and death of its citizens?