by Joseph Nathan
It is a huge relief for many concerned Singaporeans that the Ministry of Law (MinLaw) is finally seeking to increase the penalties for three types of sex offences, further citing that the offender’s educational qualifications or academic potential “should not carry much weight”.
When sexual offences kept occurring at our universities, the good name of Singapore took a severe beating, embarrassing Singaporeans for all the wrong reasons.
Hardworking parents had not slogged hard to put their children to university only to be abused, much less to be sexually abused.
Despite endless assurances by NUS, NTU, etc., sexual predators continue to exploit our undergraduate-victims, seemingly undeterred by the criminal consequences of their perverse actions.
Naturally, concerned parents, students and concerned Singaporeans demanded that our universities take greater responsibility, accountability and corrective actions, and for good reasons, given the wider implications and social costs.
Psychologically, sexual predators are no different from bullies, and the probability of them being victims of past abuse or having been misguided by poor role models are high.
The saying “monkeys see, monkeys do” shows that there is a clear correlation between these perverse behaviours and personal indiscretions.
As such, to address this social menace holistically, there is a need to address the personal indiscretions of leaders across our society, including our public and private sectors.
If personal discretion has been the prevailing virtue at our universities, then many good “leaders” at our universities and senior officers at Ministry of Education (MOE), including the Education Minister, would have been so overwhelmingly outraged by earlier incidents into taking more drastic action before things got so out of hand.
The fact that they did not is self evident of something that is perversely disturbing.
Even if we have the full weight of the law to deter such occurrences, every good work will still get unravelled if we do not address the lack of personal discretions at our schools, ministries, agencies and the rest of our public and private sectors.
Can you imagine if we were to have a minister with serious personal indiscretion heading any ministry, how perverse will our country become?
While Lee Kuan Yew (LKY) may have passed on, lets not forget his warning that the day may come when we may have a rogue government.
Imagine if that day is to come and we ended up with a Law Minister that lacks personal discretion trying to step up enforcement against sexual offences – what kind of messaging are we sending out exactly?
Law and order can only be effective if leadership is firmly anchored upon the virtue of personal discretion so that when “monkeys” see that everyone is trying hard to behave, they will be more inclined to behave too.
Time for Singaporeans to reflect critically on the rise of sexual offences at our universities and public offices over these past years, and value the virtue of personal discretion before our country gets overly perverse beyond hope.
I hope the Prime Minister will take a strong stand against the rise of personal indiscretions as Singapore clearly deserves better.