(Or “Why it’s all the fault of Goh Chok Tong” or “Unfair to call PAP racist, PAP loves Minorities”)
When Santa read in ST that Seng Han Thong had admitted he had misheard SVP “Do not ever damage SMRT property even if people are dying”* Goh’s radio comments, he dropped in on Christmas Eve at Han’s palatial mansion to deliver a made-in-China hearing aid and a gift voucher to see a Chinese Ear Nose and Throat specialist.
In politically correct socities like Britain and the US, where Han would be branded by the “great and the good” as a casual racist, his brain only hearing what he wants to hear, Santa would have given him a gift voucher to see a psychiatrist. But this is S’pore, where things are different. Minorities are expected to be sensitised, not sensitive.
Seriously, he must have a serious hearing problem if he could have missed out the “C” word in”Malay, Chinese, or Indians”. I mean the “C” word appeared in between the “M” and “I” words. If it had come first or last, a mishearing was possible. Anyway, I hope he visits an ENT specialist and a psychiatrist. We don’t want him inflaming racial tensions, do we? Or him discrediting the PAP and NTUC, where he holds senior positions.
The PM should blame one Goh Chok Tong for making PAPpies such easy targets when it comes to accusations of racism. How can PAP leaders ever be accused of racism when two out of four of the PM’s most trusted ministers are Indians (only 9% of the population), and until August we had an Indian as president for 12 years. And the Attorney General and the MD of the central bank are Indians. So how can the PAP be racist, if it has placed five Indians in prominent, important roles? If anything, the 75% of S’poreans that are Chinese, should be upset, which they are not.
Sorry, coming back to “Peanuts” Goh. In 1992, PAP MP Choo Wee Khiang complained in parly that he once visited Little India and found it in complete darkness “not because there was no light, but because there were too many Indians around there”. It was Opposition MP Chiam See Tong that objected to Choo’s comments, not a PAP MP or minister. Choo remained unrepentant saying he was talking about foreign Indians, not local Indians. Later, he apologised.
There were public calls for him to resign or be sacked from parly. But PM Goh Chok Tong defended him saying that Choo had apologised, that he didn’t mean any harm, and that we should “move on” because people make mistakes “from time to time”.
Well his trust in Choo was misplaced. In 1999, Choo was jailed and fined for cheating offences. Taz not all. Today, he is facing three charges of accepting bribes totalling some S$2,300 from former coaches and a national player when he was STTA president from 1991 to 2008. He also faces one count of criminal breach of trust alleging he and then-STTA manager Koh Li Ping misappropriated S$8,400 from the association. If convicted, Choo faces a fine of up to S$100,000 and/or imprisonment not exceeding five years for each of the corruption charges. Criminal breach of trust carries a penalty of up to 15 years’ jail and a fine.
Some more “no harm” mistakes “from time to time”, Mr Goh? Gd judge of character, that Mr Goh.
Coming back to Han. At the time of his balls-up, he was saying SMRT needs to improve its public communications, “from this incident, we also noted that the public communication system is not adequate to address issues like this”. He is the one who has problems communicating, methinks
But no need to pity him. The latest is that he is trying to weasel his way out of the hole he dug himself in by now saying he was trying to defend workers who spoke bad English** and “My wish to defend you was further taken out of context and misconstrued by The Online Citizen”***.
He is trying hard, very hard.
*OK, OK. I exaggerate a little, but not that much
**He is now denying he misheard it seems. “Unfortunately, in trying to defend you, I made the mistake of only mentioning our “Malay” and “Indian” workers where the original quote in the radio interview I was commenting on had cited MRT staff of different races, “Malay, Chinese, or Indians or any other race”.
***On this point, I have defended TOC elsewhere saying that
— SHT owns those comments because he misquoted the original remarks, giving them a racist twist (even if unintended); and
— given his status as a PAP MP and unionist, and the sensitivity of race here, he didn’t refute what he tot he had heard as he should have done. Instead he poured kerosene liberally.