Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Based on justice and equality

Something struck me as not quite right on Sunday when I watch the evening news on Channel 5. Both were national servicemen. Both were Singapore born and bred. Both died while serving their national service. That's where the similarities end.

One gets what appears to be a send-off with full military honours - gun carriage, and senior Air Force officers in attendance. The only thing they left out was the plane. The other's send-off hardly merited a whisper in the press. It was probably a quiet and private affair.

Now, I am not grudging the attention given to a promising young man who died in his prime while serving his country. But then, that describes the other Army recruit too, no matter that he wasn't in as prestigious a unit, and he was described as slightly plumb. Both died serving their country. One got, I suppose, an all expense-paid (by Singapore tax-payers no less) burial, but the other got nothing, as far as burials go.

Are national serviceman bound for officer cadet school more equal than a humble recruit of a few days? How did he get into the air force when his eyesight was less than perfect? Now, before you go off and berate me for sour-grapes, let me say that I do not personally know these men nor their families. Its just that I have been brought up in the Singapore system that swears by justice and equality. And what I witnessed on Sunday on the Telly was anything but.

I may be wrong. There may be a perfectly legitimate reason for one boy getting a full military send-off and the other hardly a mention. If there is, pray enlighten me.

Image source: morgueFile.com. Author: Tony Roberts


Gaius15 said...

C? Tat's y parents r pressuring their kids to "chase" the paper, coz "o's" students are destined to serve only the humble, lower end "Ah peng gor" Army recruit unit.
How's tat for equality?

Lonely Planet Singapore said...

Actually, I think the airforce guy was a regular, so that may be the deciding factor. Also, I think the family can choose to decline a state funeral (if i remember correctly from my NS days).

Anonymous said...

Now you know that the SAF treats NSFs like dirt.

PanzerGrenadier said...

Military burial or not, both have died for the country.

The parents' (and Singapore's) loss of two local talent will not be assuaged whether it was a military funeral or not.

Unless the system is changed for the better, more NSFs will die for duty, honour and country.

Just that duty, honour and country has not much meaning for many of us.

Majullah Singapura.

Anonymous said...

George Orwell's Animal Farm is as valid as ever in old days or modern times, in any part of the world.

Anonymous said...

You mentioned you do not know the family personally, so I would suggest that judgement be reserved.

The recruit's family may have opted for a low key funeral for personal reasons, and there is no evidence that MINDEF did not pay for his funeral.

On the other hand, the pilot trainee's family may be "forced" to have a military funeral so that their son can received his "wings".

Every family has their own story to tell, and without knowing the full details, we should not pass judgement on anyone. Our "Gahmen" included.

Anonymous said...

so be transparent if not we don't know what the garment did behind our back. so when we fark them on some issues, it is bcos we are not given full picture. so no transparency , get ready to be fark by yr civil master - SINGAPOREAN

Epilogos said...

To pass judgement is a serious and solemn matter. To pass over without questioning is a fatal error. Questions must be raised when there is a perception that something is not quite right, or just.

Whatever the reasons, it would seem to me to be more prudent to do the same for everyone, or, if it is a matter of personal choice, to tone down such send-off ceremonies to take away the perception that some people are treated like kings.

yixuan said...

While it is very possible that the recruit's family requested for minimal media coverage (which is perfectly reasonable), personally I think that the media should tone it down a notch. Even if the cadet's friends and family were more forthcoming with their tributes and such, in the context of the other tragedy (which happened first), they should moderate the relative amount of coverage and airtime.

My initial feelings after watching the news over those few days was similar to those of this blogger, in that I was wondering how it could be so imbalanced or unfair. But my father pointed out that well, if more people are willing to talk, then the media will cover that side more, and that's that.

And yes, the recruit did have a proper military funeral, because I have a close friend in SAF Bands, and they are involved whenever there is a funeral.