Tuesday, 26 September 2023

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They keep trying to justify and justify, and now there’s nothing they won’t justify

by Augustine Low

It doesn’t matter if it’s non-justification or justifying the unjustifiable. The cycle of justification has to go on.

From COVID-19 to corruption probe, they find ways to spin justification.

The virus was used to justify why Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong could not meet his target to step down – he had to steer the country through the COVID-19 crisis.

Now, the talk from political analysts on mainstream media is that the ongoing investigation on Minister S Iswaran would make it “far harder” for PM Lee to do a handover. Justifying why PM-in-waiting Lawrence Wong has to wait longer.

The arrest of Minister Iswaran has supporters justifying on social media that it shows the People’s Action Party (PAP) is able to ownself check ownself.

Even presidential hopeful Tharman Shanmugaratnam waded in with similiar justification to “treat the setback as an opportunity to strengthen the system, to display full transparency.”

Trying to turn adversity to advantage through their own brand of justification.

Tharman himself has had to justify why he is the right man for elected president, given that he has been a PAP man for decades.

But no amount of justification can erase what the people see on his forehead –  the lightning bolt symbol of the PAP.

Leader of the House Indranee Rajah has announced that Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin’s unspeakable remark will be addressed at the next Parliament sitting—though Tan has since resigned as a MP today.

They had to dig really deep to justify why six top executives were not prosecuted for the Keppel bribery scandal.

Still, the people see the stern warning as a gut punch to the country’s zero tolerance against corruption.

They are still trying to justify why SPH Media Trust should be funded to the tune of $900 million, despite the circulation data fabrication.

The people see it as a complete waste of taxpayers’ money.

In the case of Karl Liew, son of Liew Mun Leong, former chairman of Changi Airport Group, there’s simply no justifying why the prosecution did not ask for a custodial sentence, and why the judge said the prosecution’s submission read like mitigation.

Karl was sentenced to two weeks’ jail for lying in the Parti Liyani case, only because the judge decided that “nothing less than an imprisonment sentence is due for such cases.”

They have attempted to justify that HDB flats are affordable, GST increase is for the poor, the size of the country’s reserves are a secret, and the Singapore Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) is good for the country and good for Singaporeans.

But how many people buy any of it?

The one that sets a record for the most justification is the ministers’ controversial occupation of Ridout properties.

From why ministers need to rent from the government when they have their own bungalows, to why the bid rent is similar to guide rent, to why trees were felled, to why such extensive and expensive repair works before move-in, to why a minister could ask a subordinate for a list of vacant rental properties, to why no conflict of interest, to why no breach of ministerial code of conduct, to why a buddy was the best man for an independent review.

Just imagine the time, effort and money spent on justification after justification – from involving public servants and government agencies to convening investigations to convening Parliament.

But it seems they are determined to go down the rabbit hole.

Surely the people ought to realise by now that they are only buying time instead of going all out to stop the rot.

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