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awol from ns, $5000 fine

painist melvyn tan defaulted and ran away from serving national service, and returned after 30 years. he was found guilty and fined $5000. compare this with what a nsman has to go through and sacrificed for his 2-2 1/2 years fulltime service and his reservist liabilities, and the income lost, what message are we telling the people? is there a miscarriage of justice and fair play? the nation demanded by law that all able men served national service. now running away from such a liability deserves only a $5000 fine. it is a precedence that will erode the discipline, value and perception of not serving ns. it is a very attractive price to pay. melvyn tan has achieved fame for singapore. is that a consideration? melvyn tan has suffered for 30 years for not being able to return home? did he really suffered for being away from singapore? we can admire his achievements. we need not lambast him for not doing his national service like all dutiful male citzens. we need not be unkind or rude to him. but he has to pay a price that must be equitable to the sacrifice of other nsmen. otherwise we are unfair to all nsmen, all the several generations of nsmen that have gone through the harsh training to defend the nation. it may not be feasible or practical to expect melvyn tan to go through the same process and regimentation like any young nsmen. rightfully he should be jailed for the maximum of 3 years. that is what the law provides and there is no reason to do otherwise. if he is to be let off lightly, an alternative way must be considered to be seen to be fair to the nation and all nsmen. he could serve time with the music and drama company, full time for at least two years. in this way we are not wasting his talent, but to give him a chance to repay his debt to the nation. we will also tell the future defaulters that no way anyone is going to escape from his responsibilities to the nation. a singaporean male must serve the nation like any other singaporean, with no discrimination of your birth, your race, language or religion, or your talent. for the latter, if the state chooses to use an individual's talent in another way, it is a considered decision of the state, not the choice of an individual.


Anonymous said...

fine example of true "meritrocracy" at work!

redbean said...

we are not too sure of all the facts to this case. but first impression from what is known, it is a very bad precedence, as good as telling potential defaulters that it is ok if they can come back later if they have done well.

some may be enticed to look at this option. and many will regret later for not being able to be world class to come back and be fined for $500 and everything becomes fine.

Elfred said...

Well, we can't just take this one case to attack Meritocracy.

Basically, Meritocracy is a 'want', and ideology that is absolutely as defective as non-meritocracy.

The issue is, it's supposed to be built on the belief of education for higher employment returns, and Meritocracy emcompass a general 'rule' for people to follow, as religion is to common people.

But formal education (especially a highly defective one which bends entirely and systematically towards skills and grades) serves very little for social progress, and hence, nation building especially when you suddenly find the huge investment face lesser returns and yet higher risk for the population.

Now how many spent tons of monies getting a cert in X having to work in Y field and got 're-educated' again? All this waste time and resources, creat unhappiness and most importantly, protray Singapore which claims intellectually enabled to be kinda foolish. And it's really politically backfiring.

Unless we understand how to govern in more wiser manner and with less reliance of systems... We better pray for easy money to shower the region again.

redbean said...

for this particular case some may see it as a wrongful decision based on meritocracy. i am looking at it from the point of consistency and fair play, that the decision must be seen as equitable and fair to all nsmen.

many went through the mills and suffered and paid more for small indiscretion. but this guy, nothing personal, came back and claimed celebrity status, and got away with a tap on his hand.

the reaction is brewing and may blow up in people's faces. after all practically everyone male citizen has gone through it, faced it squarely, some painfully. and now this has to happen.

Elfred said...

There's a problem in which not all cases can be perceived on merit of 'fairplay'.

Somebody was complaining against CJ Yung's several'rulings the other day... She felt it too unreasonable, too harsh...

Actually, the wisdom behind all punishment or court case is this, if people can have gauges of such award (of punishment/outcome) from a fairplay, people would have a 'premium' for the price of crime.

In this case, it's seemingly unreasonable because it looks so light as many others have done it. But it's not as if he killed anyone.

This, however, goes to show that no matter what judgement is passed, there'd be some sort of intepretation over such judgement, and the most important thing is:

No matter how the judgement is, it's going to have a social impact, and court does carries very important social duty.

Some are hoping CJ could retire early... But the truth is, there is no such thing as perfect judge, hence the way of things.

But to cite so to justify a crappy environment is an entirely different thing altogether. Which is why I don't find it agreeable on (eg) one of CJ's judgement on a Casino related case.

What I wanna point out is this, it's everyone's take on how to judge and what to impress but... it's always how the court sees itself as a part of society that's usually the matter.

redbean said...

there is no perfect judgement but people expect the variance to be within acceptable limits. $5000 fine can never be seen to be equitable to 2 1/2 years ns and a lifetime of reservist training. and too many people have gone through ns and will know what they are talking about and how they felt over this issue.

the reaction from the ground will tell how acceptable is the decision. if it is felt too strongly, that ground reaction can be quite hostile. if it is a mild reaction, then the matter will die in a matter of time. but unfortunately they will be more such cases down the line after this case.

Elfred said...

I very much doubt the public would have much uproar on this one.

Almost all male in every household gone through NS, we all know what is NS. You don't need Sgt Hu to tell you exactly what it is.

Since people generally know what crap, it's obvious when you claim crap is smelly, people just shrug as no surprise.

It's gotta do with expectation. In the older days, would anyone even talk over PAP falling out of power? Now there's a pretty good frequency you hear about those things in the streets to none's surprise. Why you expect something and it turns out otherwise, then there's usually an impact.

There'd be a real commotion when NS finally become a solid unit, cos... come on, who the hack really expect a shaped up NS, see?

Common sense.

BTW... When we approach such issue, no mind me adding a little, we have to jump out of the 'everyone thinks so' box. The problem of politics is, if that's what everyone thinks so, then everyone is right, and if everyone is right, there'd be no need for government, cos none would be wrong which means...?

Which means we'd be perfect.

redbean said...


we are perfect....perfectly flawed.

Elfred said...

Quite true, in a way. I won't be staring at the army, the school, the meritocracy, the SIAS and my wife the same way if things have be any more perfect for me.

It's because by some heaven's will that I would not face such imperfection any lesser but gotta the perfection of encountering all at one go before I reach 30. It's kinda striking some toto.

Interestingly, it's really up to Singapore to forgive a person of not serving something that crappy or simply just subscribe to the sadistic and pervertous stance of punishing someone who (eg) won't subject himself to the risk of ending up in Sgt Hu's fate.

Mentality problem. Simple as that.

And no one... Not a single one may be able to stand up there and do any correction to such mentality and attitude problem.

Know that I don't really find the guy lucky or the law unjust. If that's an honor that he tried to siam, I'd probably blame him on it.

But obviously, I can't blame someone who managed to (eg) escape tsunami that he has no team spirit cos every tourists in his team were to experience it...

The entire Singapore is blowing empty hot air now, as I am seeing it... which is a kinda psychological imbalance at work.

When a flaw is shared in such wide scale, Reddie, it's become only normal... a standard. But we can't say that's Singaporean culture, for I'd never accept such as a culture.

We really have a seriously huge problem in thinking in Singapore.