Straits Times published a letter by MINDEF about Pte Dominique’s case. I think MINDEF hopes to “close the case” with that letter. When I saw the headlines, I thought, “FINALLY! Some answers!” I thought I would be able to find in that letter the answers to some of these questions I had about the case.
I was sorely disappointed.
MINDEF’s letter was basically restating what they have already said. There wasn’t anything new. If you want to know anything more, you will have to apply to the court to read the coroner’s full findings and conclusion. And that is also subject to court’s approval.
Why can’t MINDEF be more helpful and point out the salient parts of the coroner’s findings and how he came to the conclusion that Pte Dominique’s death resulted from an “acute allergic reaction to zinc chloride due to inhalation of zinc chloride fumes” and that the allergic reaction was “unlikely to have been predicted”? Why is it that MINDEF expects that we accept the coroner’s findings?
Maybe there was a time when people would take the word of the government at face value unquestioningly. Or maybe in the past, people also did question, just that there weren’t channels beyond the kopitiams to voice their doubts.
But it’s evident that in this day and age, quite a large number of Singaporeans won’t simply accept what the government tells us. And we now have many channels to voice our discontent at the dearth of explanations and demand the government to explain in greater detail.
It’s not enough for the government to give us the conclusions of its findings. We expect the government to explain the process in detail. And we expect the government to defend that process and conclusion from the questions and doubts we raise.
But it seems that the government isn’t willing to offer details. It still exists in a mode of “you all better just be happy with whatever we tell you and don’t question. Question also no use cos we ain’t gonna tell you more.”
And it’s not just MINDEF.
MOH said that four senior officials from MOH and 12 people holding leadership positions in SGH have been “disciplined” for their role in the Hep-C outbreak at SGH last year. But it didn’t say who these people are. And why specifically these 16 people? What exactly did they do or not do that led to the Hep-C outbreak that made them deserving of being “disciplined”? And exactly what sort of “disciplining” did they receive? And why weren’t other people more senior “disciplined”? Why won’t MOH tell us? What good reasons are there not to tell us?
I would have thought that a government that is sincere about engaging citizens more would be more willing to go into details and explain the processes that led to certain conclusions and decisions. But it seems, at least for now, that is not the case.
For now, it seems that the Gahmen acts like God – their thoughts are not our thoughts, nor are our ways their ways. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are the Gahmen’s ways higher than our ways, and the Gahmen’s thoughts than our thoughts.
If I’m Christian, I may be alright with that. But I’m not. And the Gahmen is certainly not God.