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Hero or Zero? July 12, 2007

Posted by Ned Stark in Uncategorized.
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It is a rather common consensus that the SAF, in particular the army, is a place where injustice reigns. Ned served in the army and has been on the receiving end of injustice at one time or another. Of course Ned has served with and served under good men who are not afraid to take a stand against the injustice that plagues the force. In Ned’s opinion that would make a person some kind of hero.

So what do I make of Li Hongyi’s actions? There are those who praise him for having the guts to say what needs to be said, there are those who have contend that he can say what he said by virtue of who his dad is (see lucky’s comment). Then there are those who view his actions not dissimilar to that of a spoilt person.

From a practical aspect, the reasons for his actions are irrelevant, what is important is that at least he did bother to speak up. However taking into account the whole picture, I would be cautious about giving praise. May I bring your attention to this paragraph;

2LT Lee Hong Yi, better known as PM Lee’s son, had fired off an e-mail within the military network lambasting the “quality of leadership” in the SAF to the top brass, including the Minister of Defence and the Chief of Defence Force.

He had done it after being punished for an error that was largely not his.

Having seen that, it would be rather premature to praise him for daring to speak out. What if he had not been punished? Would he have even bothered to speak up?

And that is merely the tip of the iceberg. This incident has raised a host of issues, for example , the fact that there appears to be a climate of fear, and the fact that there appears to be some double standard at work here; as has been pointed out, such an action would render one liable to a military charge. But notwithstanding all that it appears that this incident stemmed more from a sense of anger and desire to get back at someone rather than a sense of civic duty. Of course there will be those who will point a finger at me and say that I am letting myself get blinded by the fact that his surname is Lee.

To set the record straight, I will give praise where praise is due irregardless of surname ( I do respect Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew for his contributions, though I do not like it when his contributions are hyped up and that of his peers are forgotten; fortunately there seems to be positive development with respect to that.) In this instance there is anything to suggest that his actions were not motivated by any sense of civic duty. In fact I will end of with a story of a former army comrade who, I opine, did what he did because of the said sense of civic duty:

P was one of the old men in the unit. He had numerous overseas exercises under his belt and his experience was even greater than some of the officers.

One fine day one of the Key Appointment Holders (KAH) decided to implement a slew of measures which adversely affected the noncoms and the enlisted personnel, including but not limited to moving forward the book in time. Naturally many people were unhappy and during a family day event some parent decided to write that down in the feedback form. Unfortunately KAH didnt take it in a positive light and reprimanded the unit. At that material time P was participating in an overseas exercise. When P got back he was so disgusted that he drafted a letter and passed it to OC and Sgt Major. OC was very helpful and helped us fight this case and eventually we won (though after I left the timing was changed again).

Of course from the above story, there seems to be nothing to distinguish P from Li. However before I get accused of double standards I will provide the last part of the story;

Months later P was nearing his ORD date. However at that time things were turning from bad to worse in the unit. Since P was clearing leave this changes had no effect on P whatsoever. However despite that P once again decided to draft a letter appealing to the powers that be, notwithstanding that it was no longer his business to do so. And of course P did not shoot letters to every single person involved, in every thign he did, P made sure that he minimised the, for lack of a better word, “exposure” by corresponding with the people in the Unit and company. And that it why Ned respects P for what he did, for his actions did not arise merely because he felt aggrieved.

* It appears that Hong Yi has been taken to task by the Army. I believe that credit should be given to MINDEF for such an action, although I have something to say with regards to this issue of proper channels of redress. But that is a post for another time.

** with regards to what Hong Yi did, I have read the email. While I do not agree with his action in shooting the email to everyone ( He could have just emailed the CO and if no action were forthcoming then he could call the hotline), I understand his frustration and can empathise with the probable reasons why he did what he did. Therefore I will daresay at the very least, he deserves praise for his action.
 

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Comments»

1. guojun - July 13, 2007

i daresay that we do not make him into a martyr.

2. Ned Stark - July 13, 2007

Nah, a martyr he is not. Definite about that.

3. Gerald - July 13, 2007

His letter seems to indicate that that was his last day in camp. I guess he might have figured he won’t get a chance to wait for his CO’s non-reply, so decided to shoot it off to everyone. Doesn’t excuse him, of course, but might provide an explanation.

4. guojun - July 13, 2007

so what does this make him then? This makes him irresponsible, and a fool blinded by his idealism. Well, at least he got charged. maybe that will teach him some brains.

5. Ned Stark - July 14, 2007

Now now Guojun, don’t go dissing his idealism. Leave it to his grand dad to give him a dose of realism.

6. guojun - July 15, 2007

His grand dad? His perception of reality is unfortunately 42 years old…

7. guojun - July 15, 2007

my issue is not with his idealism. My issue is more with his lack of this thing called common sense…

8. Ned Stark - July 15, 2007

There are those who might contend that we all lack common sense. 😛

9. Molly - July 16, 2007

It seems that no one is confirming if LHY had been unfairly punished prior to sending the email? Or do you have any idea?

10. Ned Stark - July 16, 2007

It appears that from what Yee Hung said on Pseudonymity.wordpress.com, the unfair punishment never took place and was an error on Yee Hung’s part.

11. psykedelic - July 17, 2007

i think while i do comprehend his intentions however i do feel that his approach was unfortunately rash and an evident portrayal of his lack of appreciation of the system set in place for intended purposes.

12. Ryan - July 18, 2007

I think perhaps, i have another view, the people already know what happens in the SAF, comon, we all have to serve, however, perhaps this could be part of a long term agenda, for instance, didnt his father, the current PM, serve as a ‘brigadier general’ i use that term in inverted commas, since he’s currently the world record holder for a general without combat experience.
now would people look back when his son is up for elections and thing ‘hey isnt that the guy who blew the whiste, etc etc?

long term propaganda is what i think it is, if anyone else did that, it would be instantly covered up and made to disappear….

now i wonder who is going to be the PAP front man in a couple of years?

think about that. you may support him now for his ‘valiant actions’ but for all you know, it may be a ruse, the news media in singapore is known to be an agent of the government, giving props to the current ruling party for years, and showing the opposition in a poor light.
in this country of not so free press and lack of civil liberties, perhaps we are just all part of a long term plan to keep the lee family in power for years to come.

13. Ned Stark - July 18, 2007

Orh I do support his actions now. But thats about it. Whatever happens next time, lets wait and see.


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