There are those who say that the tragic death of national serviceman Aloysius Pang is being politicised, with demands for answers and for accountability from the Defence Minister and his generals from the Singapore Armed Forces.
Has it all been too much, too vitriolic, too venomous?
Let’s take a step back and consider the baying for blood by the People’s Action Party over alleged wrongdoing by the opposition.
Speaking in Parliament on the Auditor General’s findings on financial mismanagment by the Aljunied Hougang Punggol East Town Council, Minister Khaw Boon Wan called the Workers’ Party Members of Parliament “evasive, unresponsive and misleading” and went further than anyone could ever imagine: “In Japan, the CEO and board of directors will call a press conference and take a deep bow, and in the good old days, they may even commit hara-kiri.”
The contempt on Khaw’s face and the vitriol in his voice was unmistakable as he evoked hara-kiri (ritual suicide by disembowelment) as a punishment for wrongdoing.
Has anyone raised the spectre of hara-kiri for the Defence Minister and SAF Generals? Not that I am aware of.
And we’re talking about lives lost, not funds mismanaged. We need to be mindful too that there have been plentiful assurances that “every death is one too many” because the SAF is deadly serious about pursuing the target of “zero training deaths” and “zero fatalities.”
So in the wake of not one or two but several deaths, it is too much to call for answers and accountability, even for an overhaul of the SAF?
Khaw has his equals in the PAP when it comes to name calling and vitriolic strikes. Opposition politicians J. B. Jeyaretnam was branded a “skunk” and a “mangy dog,” James Gomez “a liar and a cheat,” Chee Soon Juan a “psychopath” and a “dud” and Francis Seow a “womaniser.”
And critics to this day continue to be hauled to court because the baying for blood has to go on – no quarters given, no mercy shown.
If you live by the sword, you have to be prepared for the knives to be out when there are major missteps and slip-ups.
Even so, it is virtually impossible to surpass the masters of vitriol and contempt. You know who they are.