Image from Doppelganger4 /Shutterstock.com

The above headline is a quote from George Washington, the first President of the United States.

How often have we been saddled with not only bad excuses but excuses that are both insulting and mind boggling?

The latest one from Temasek Polytechnic is a gem. Asked by the media how American Mikhy Farrera-Brochez was able to dupe the institution into employing him, a spokesman said: “Based on the documents that Brochez submitted in his job application in 2008, he met the job requirements.”

Any Tom, Dick or Harry will tell you by now that Brochez met the job requirements only because all his documents and educational certificates were forged.

The real reason is no one bothered to check and verify, and the excuse given is not only lame, it is an insult to common sense.

Last year, in the aftermath of the SingHealth cyber attack, when the personal particulars of 1.5 million patients were stolen, we were constantly told that it was the work of “skilled hackers.”

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, for example, stressed that the hackers involved were “extremely skilled and determined.” Even the committee of inquiry came to the conclusion that the hackers displayed “technical competence and mission-orientation” to exploit loopholes and vulnerabilities.

The skill and competence and determination of the hackers have suddenly and conveniently become a cornerstone of the whole episode.

When someone embezzles funds, do we attribute it to the chap being a skilled embezzler?

If someone gets away with murder, do we call the guy a skilled killer?

Constantly harping on the fact that the cyber attackers were skilled and competent is neither an acceptable excuse nor a credible line of defence.

After the training death of actor Aloysius Pang, the Defence Ministry asserted that it was the first casualty due to gun lowering while operating the Singapore Self-Propelled Howitzer.

Again, this is neither an excuse nor a line of defence that holds up under scrutiny.

MINDEF conveniently forgot to mention that there was a fatal incident in the same training grounds 22 years ago involving an older 155mm howitzer which led to the deaths of two full-time national servicemen and injuries to 12 others.

In any case, if “every death is one too many” and the Defence Ministry is deadly serious about the policy and target of “zero training deaths” and “zero fatalities,” then it’s pointless harping on the fact that this was the first fatality of its kind.

We started with a quote from George Washington. Let’s end with another one from him: “Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.”

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