19 May 2006

Musical Talent Crushed

So we have a young musical prodigy in Singapore. He auditions to enter the Curtis Institute of Music, a world-class institution and the top music school in the United States. 12 out of 12 judges vote to admit him into the school.

Naturally, the Singapore government must act to block his way and stop his success. With National Service.
ST May 18, 2006
Completing his NS might cost Ike opportunities to be a top musician

I have known Ike See since he was eight. This little boy grabbed my soul when he performed Beethoven's Romance In F for the Associated Board of Royal School of Music High Scorers concert. He played with such soul and conviction that it brought tears to my eyes. Since then I have kept up with his progress and I have never been disappointed with any of his performances.

There are many technicians out there who can play brilliantly and impressively but few can touch the soul like Ike. The gift to elevate the audience is what makes music so special. People go to concerts to listen to music not just to be entertained but to experience the wonderful feeling of being enriched and inspired.

I am a violinist myself and the director and principal of Mandeville Music School. I attend concerts all the time and it is a rare treat to have an elevating experience. However, Ike's performances have always been meaningful to me.

I was terribly disappointed to read the news about Ike in The Straits Times on Monday. I now understand why his parents and teacher did not want to break the good news to me when I asked them about Ike's auditions in the US. It is no use telling people that he has been accepted into all the top music colleges when he cannot go because he has to serve national service first.

It is very prestigious to be selected for Curtis Institute. It would be every musician's dream come true and anyone who can get in there is already very accomplished and all set for the world platform. This is the only top music school in the US where all selected are on full scholarship.

I encouraged Ike to audition three years ago as this school only accepts young students. He tried two years ago but was not accepted although he was one of the few finalists. I am so proud that he got in on the second try. He had worked very hard in the last two years. Twelve out of 12 judges voted him in this time.

If Ike doesn't accept their offer this round, I do not think he will be able to get in after his national service as he would be too old by then. This poor boy would be so disappointed and his hopes of becoming a world-class violinist would be shattered.

Ike might still choose to be a musician in the end, but he would likely have lost many opportunities to be at the top. In the competitive music world, age makes a big difference.

Singapore has always been proud to show off its achievements. Why waste a truly homegrown talent now? Ike will serve Singapore even better when he proves to the world that we are able to produce such a remarkable musician. He will surely do us Singaporeans proud and would be the best ambassador of the arts for us.

Yap Shu Mei (Ms),
Director/Principal, Mandeville Music School

Now Mr Wang will predict the most probable outcome of this matter. Of course I hope I am wrong, but this is what I predict will happen:
1. Some cowardly high-ranking MINDEF officer will make the cover-ass, stupid but eminently defensible decision to not allow Ike's NS deferment.

2. (".... National Service is very important. It is the duty of every male Singaporean to serve NS. We must be fair and impartial. National Service is a character-building experience that makes our boys men ... ") [take the Defence Minister's last SAF Day speech & cut & paste miscellaneous other blah blah blah statements.]

3. Unthinking Singaporeans will nod their heads approvingly.

4. Ike See will do his NS and become another perfectly mediocre, ordinary, faceless corporal or sergeant out of 20,000 other perfectly mediocre, ordinary, faceless NSF corporals and sergeants in the SAF.

5. Upon ORD, he will do a desperate rush to make up for the precious lost years in his musical training. He will realise that to do this, he can't afford to stay in Singapore any longer (this will be the only valuable lesson he will learn from his NS years - but it will be an immensely valuable lesson).

6. He leaves Singapore. For good.

7. In time, some future PAP Minister for the Arts who had never known or will have forgotten Ike See will say, "Oh, Singapore must aspire to be a world-class hub for the arts. Singaporeans lack creativity and talent but we must encourage what we have, and create alternative avenues of success in our society."

Meanwhile MINDEF will continue to grant NS deferments to male PSC Overseas Merit Scholars. Year after year after year, as schools like RJC and NJC and VJC continue to manufacture, by the hundreds, perfectly straight-A students who have memorised their way to great success in standardised exam formats. While the really rare, special ones - like Ike See - will continue to be overlooked, and will continue to languish.


"Phew, thank God I'm not Singaporean.
I'd be shooting blanks instead of breaking world records."
- Michael Phelps, winner of eight Olympic medals at the age of 19.

83 comments:

Anonymous said...

i can't agree more with Mr Wang. i guess for singapore renassiance (anyone still remember that claim few years back?) to happen..we just need more soldiers , than artist.

Anonymous said...

Help lah, help lah... Just let the boy defer lah. - An NSF conscript

Anonymous said...

how many futures have been wasted by saf???? the justification of national security, defence ...... really, are these for real?? and its not only 2 yrs but many more years of frustrating in-camp and mobilisations.

Anonymous said...

Ah, the RENASSIANCE CITY!!!!
Whatever happened to that? Quietly shelved and locked away...

feeblechicken said...

We would never have enough soldiers to fight for us. I sometimes feel bad that being a girl I do not have to serve NS and am free to pursue whatever I want. I myself am in the creative field studying overseas. I really hope that MINDEF do not sacrifice a talent just to justify their rules about deferment of NS. If they are so afraid he is going to skip it, they should work around some other rules to make them come back.

Oikono said...

I share Ike's surname (go See!) and nothing else. Thank god I have the World Bank to haul my unwanted, untalented ass out of Singapore, especially after that dreadful experience called the army.

(ironically, first three letters of the word verification as I post this comment is "NSF")

biased observer said...

My brother flew to Philadelphia and auditioned at Curtis (not Curtin, Mr. Wang) as well, but did not make the cut. Getting into this school is certainly an amazing endorsement of Ike's 'world class' ability - to use one of the government's pet phrases. My brother was fortunate enough to get into another music school and his NS deferred, back when that was still possible. When the new deferment policy was announced a few months ago, I knew it would be a bad thing.

I've grown immune to such stories unfortunately. Being a few degrees of separation from Melvyn Tan and the local classical musical circle, one can't help but be. Little wonder that our better known music talents have been female/women: they get to go where their talents take them. The males have two choices - sever ties with Singapore, or lose their most precious and critical music training years to NS. For too many, the first is too heavy a price to pay. Not everyone can be Melvyn Tan.

Anonymous said...

what about Scientists (since Singapore claims itself to be a biopolis)? Should Ike (with good grades and finishes skool/uni ahead of the rest of the pack) and gets a scholarship to further his studies, do you think Mindef would take notice? I know of a guy who's in that situation now...Maybe he can get the DSO guys and Philip Yeo to lend weight to his request? Or is the government going to destroy budding scientists who may one day allow patients with spinal cord injury to walk again?

*The Lunatic Fringe* said...

As much as I sympathise with Ike See, I would think the Mindef is caught between the rock and a hard place.

It has to balance the needs of the few (i.e. Ike's musical talent) against the many (national defence).

Granted, some may say Ike will be good enough to represent Singapore at the very highest of musical endeavours in music, but after the Melvyn case and the surrounding public anger against him for being able to escape his NS liability with a paltry fine, the rest of the proletariat that does not appreciate nor understand Ike's talent will again jump on Mindef for favouring "musical" talent vs. say if I have a talent for being counter-strike gaming that I want to pursue before the NS liability dulls my hand-eye coordination while sniping enemies with my Razor mouse!

It's the system that restricts Ike's choices in life, but it also restricts the rest of the proletariat sons who are talented in other areas who also were not granted a choice to pursue their other types of dreams because of NS. Do we condemn Mindef for what they are doing to Ike but tacitly support Mindef for what they are doing to the rest of 18 year-olds who have other talents and dreams that may conceivably have been crushed as well, but they did not have articulate principals of music schools to write sympathetic letters to his cause?

I hated my time as a faceless, nameless Corporal and subsequently 3SG in reservist but felt that my sacrifice was worth in during the WP rally in Serangoon as we recited the pledge. NS sucks it is not for MY benefit that I had to serve. It was for the nation.

Mr Wang Says So said...

In such cases, blaming the system misses the point. You should blame the people who determine how the system works.

Fairly simple, effective solutions are available, if the relevant policymakers could be bothered. For example, off the top of his head, Mr Wang could suggest this:

1. Develop a separate scheme eg "SAF Special Exemptions Policy".

2. Under this scheme, young male Singaporeans who are outstanding in some particular area may be exempted from NS or may be allowed to serve some kind of modified NS.

3. The areas of achievement need not be rigidly defined. Today it could be Ike See. Tomorrow it could be some sportsman with Olympic hopes. Next month it could be a physics prodigy on his way to discovering the Grand Unified Theory.

4. To avoid opening the floodgates, limit the number of exemptions to, say, 25 individuals a year. No one can seriously say that the SAF's effectiveness as a defence force would be hurt by this.

5. To ensure impartiality, allow an independent committee (comprising, say, a few MINDEF officers, a few NMPs, a few respected public figures) to vote on the candidates, as to whether exemptions should be granted or not.

6. The independent committee can consult experts (eg in Ike See's case, they may wish to consult eminent musicians for their views on Ike See).

7. To ensure accountability, the independent committee is required to make public its reasons for awarding any particular individual with an exemption.

There. QED.

biased observer said...

A minor quibble your opening statement, Ike did not 'win' a full scholarship to attend Curtis. Curtis awards all accepted students a full scholarship - essentially all students in Curtis get a free ride. The purpose is to keep the student selection process merit-based.

Ike's distinction is getting accepted into Curtis, not getting a scholarship.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Thank you .... I've revised my opening para.

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang is so very right. NS is part of a male citizen's duty. However, deferment doesnt mean he is not going to come back and serve NS at all. If he is allowed to go, he will appreciate Spore much more than if he is forced to stay back because of a mere "NS is a must, Spore needs all the defence support from her citizens".

Anonymous said...

Ike's case is a classic example of our bureacrats' propensity to lurch from one policy extreme to another, which in turn is caused by their inability to look at issues holistically.

Pre-Mervyn Tan's case, Ike would quite likely have been able to get NS deferment to start his once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of training at Curtis.

But post-Meryvn, the deferment option, owing to public disquiet, has been practically closed off except, as Mr Wang pointed out, for PSC scholars with their perfect A level results. (I suppose the presumption is that these scholars are truly exceptional and will make Singapore and the world a better place.)

If Ike had entered Curtis before the Meryn affair, all this would have been a non-issue. But Ike's timing is unfortunate and he is now caught in a bind not of his own doing.

For those who are faithfully carrying out their NS, their reaction would understandably be "well it's just your bad luck Ike".

But then, we have to ask ourselves the same question: are we looking at all the issues holistically?

As a sage once noted: sometimes your best intentions can bring about the results you least wanted.

Alvin said...

Must the system always outweigh the man? I don't believe we must always have such absolutes.

Alvin is sad for Ike :(

akikonomu said...

I make a counterprediction:

1. Some cowardly high-ranking MINDEF officer will make the cover-ass, stupid but eminently defensible decision to not allow Ike's NS deferment.

2. Another high-ranking but anonymous officer will arrange for Ike See to be forwarded to the Music and Dance Company after completing his BMT.

3. Minilee will make full use of this in the National Day Rally Speech to say how he has created a Singapore that develops the talents of all Singaporeans.

4. Stint at MDC does nothing to improve See anyway, and he leaves Singapore permanently, a minor musician who missed his chance at greatness. But all this won't be reported in the press, of course.

ted said...

What's the problem man, just let Ike defer his NS and then make him come back to the Drama mama club in that NS unit or the Military band to teach his skills to others lah.

Sigh.

And oh Lunatic Fringe, reciting pledge don't mean one MUST and have to agree with all sort of NS policies that the ruling party mete out on us ok?

klimmer said...

The entire argument for national service is stupid anyway. Having large citizen reserves and compulsory military serviced helped neither France nor any of the lower countries from being invaded by the Nazis. And the nonsense about the Swiss fighting to the last man etc etc. The Nazis also need a place to launder their money and the Swiss had no industry worth taking.

So much effort and money just to create a false sense of security.

biased observer said...

> 2. Another high-ranking but anonymous officer will arrange for Ike See to be forwarded to the Music and Dance Company after completing his BMT.

This is pretty much SOP, no need for high-ranking anythings. A little chat with the higher ups at the NAC is sufficient. My brother went through the same rigamarole after finishing his music degree. Two and a half wasted years, but that's NS for you.

moomooman said...

What if... during BMT he breaks his arm?

schizophrenic said...

see lah! as expected, some joker wrote to the 140th press (forum article: "Consider NS deferment for those with exceptional family burdens").

now everybody wants MINDEF to have case-by-case review.

if this shit continues, then everyone on the island will be deferred/exempted from NS - because in S'pore, every mother's son believe that he is a talent.

i think MINDEF should just apply the law as it is - otherwise, it will open up the floodgates.

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang suggestion of 25 people exempted- quite clever leh....I think can work lah. I also get angry at first with Melvin's case cos he was 'rich' but come to think of it, I hate to see Ike go to waste.

Buay Tah Han said...

klimmer : Friday, May 19, 2006 5:28:58 PM posted:

"So much effort and money just to create a false sense of security."

Woo hoo ... WTG klimmer ... all other contributors tried looking at Ike's predicament fr a pragmatic pt of view. But YOU've hit the nail on the head on the crux of the matter.

1. If the rational of NS is to be rigorously enforced, then for the sake of equity & fairplay, NO EXCEPTIONS must be allowed at all!!! If other non-PSC types can pick up where the left off in our "world-class" NUS / NTU (check out the TODAY paper, Fri, May 19, 2006 AM edition, bottom of pg 1 (abt 55 yr old NTU prof forced to take half-pay contract - will he be motivated to teach to the best of his ability?), I see no excuse why Ivy-League bound scholars cannot do so! Probaby PSC knows that NS blunts your brain - that's why! Scholars must follow thru before their brains rot during NS! (happens to 99% to all of us)

2. Wat national defence. Doctrine of fwd defence - but in practice, who'll allow foreign troops on their soil? But they continue to acquire stuff that require large staging area to engage the red flags - not practical! & wat's more, continue to spends hundreds of millions to PARK the GEAR OVERSEAS! (bring back home oso cannot manoeuver properly!)

3. Cheaper to hire mercs or get the US to pay to protect their strategic interest in SEA & the Malacca Straits.

4. When come to crunchtime, how many will really stay to fight. Sad to say those wif the intell & means wud've parachuted to asylum orredi! those left behind r left are left behinds 'cos they can't run!

Sorry to say this but my time in NS & reservist is truly a waste of time!

memorable quotes:

"we rush to wait"

"we the unfortunate,
led by the incompetent,
do the unnecessary,
for the ungrateful."

5. Even for the provision of a false illusion of security, WE'RE SUCH SAD SUCKERS 'cos the foreigners and PRs enjoy all practical perks of citizenship without paying the price. Why, PRs can buy subsidized housing from HDB, too!

WHY MUST I BE BORN A MALE IN SG? SO DAMN UNFAIR!!!

NSF said...

I don't see how the Mervyn Tan case is related to Ike See's - by the way he's coming back to Singapore - all Singaporean men, don't let him! - because:

1. Melvyn Tan went AWOL. He's a deserter. Never did a single day. He did defer/postpone serving his NS, but after the term of disruption/deferment he f---ed off, ran away, quit the place, hid on a foreign concert hall playing his piano. But that was what - 30 years ago.

2. Contrary to what "anonymous" says, male PSC scholars don't defer. They do their BMT etc then stop in around June/July in preparation for the start of the university term. Then they come back and serve back the remainder, unless they decide to Melvyn-Tan. (I happen to know quite a handful of them so that IS the case.)

3. I do agree that Mindef should be more flexible and consider special exemptions (such as age limits, need to develop talent). At most let See come back and join the MDC loh... or create something like SAFSA for artists and musicians, so they are permanently "attached out".

Heavenly Sword said...

Hi Mr Wang, how's life? :] Upon reading your post I got motivated to write an NS-related essay as well...

Marcus said...

I agree with your suggestions, Mr Wang. Set up a separate scheme for talented people. Deferment doesn't mean exemption. He still got to come back and serve at some point in his life (if he wants to return that is).

There is no need to adhere to the rules just for the sake of it. What is the government trying to prove, that it is fair and impartial to all Singaporeans? No need for that, there are already cases of "impartiality" in NS long ago, what with white horses and exceptions for overseas scholars.

As always, double standards in the system and only when the media breaks a story, do they backtrack and now Ike is just a victim of their new found impartiality.

If the government distrust its citizens to come back and serve, does it also trust us to fight the battles if Singapore is in danger?? you think the citizens

chrischoo said...

Since everything in Singapore can be denominated in dollars and cents, why not just make Ike post a bond of a few hundred K and let him go and study? The dollar value of each human life in NS is not worth more than several thousand dollars anyway if you consider how much they pay for deaths due to training accidents.

They're already making motorists pay for damage done to trees when they get into accidents. They hire foreign talent with Singapore citizenship clauses and 3-year bonds. If everything has already been given a dollar value, then Ike's deferment could very well be given a dollar value as well.

Not that I completely agree with this approach because I'm still a sucker for the "loyalty to country" bit, but I think it certainly beats telling him "No."

Anonymous said...

thank you for writing this mr wang. it means alot :)

Fox said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Fox said...

Fairly simple, effective solutions are available, if the relevant policymakers could be bothered.

Actually, a few healthy male citizens are exempted from NS under certain schemes. It's called the Foreign Talent Scheme in which foreign-born male sportsmen take up Singapore citizenship and then represent Singapore in internationl meets. These people are never required to serve a single day of NS.

Too bad for Ike See. He just isn't a foreign talent.

kay said...

Hi everyone,

I'm writing to you as a friend of Ike, and I know that he appreciates all your support very much.

Like many of you here, I feel the same about Ike's deferment appeal being turned down. Needless to say I am disappointed with Mindef's decision, but I have to say I wasn't hoping for much either (especially in light of certain issues about a certain pianist.)

However, we can do more for Ike than just talking about inflexible Mindef policy on Mr Wang's blog. I know it would mean alot to Ike, his family, and his teachers, if there was more public response towards his situation. So far there have been 5 (or was it 6?) letters to the forum -- all of which do not support Mindef's decision to reject Ike's deferment appeal -- but it is still not enough. Mindef and the government needs to know that there are more than just 5 people out there with sound, reasonable opinions on the matter and that he should not be reduced to another statistic in Mindef, nor should he be just another headliner in the papers.

The comments I've seen here are constructive and supportive of Ike, so please, if you would, please write to the ST forum and let Mindef know that there are Singaporeans who care about Ike and would not want this gifted musician go to waste.

I grew up together with Ike (because we shared the same violin teacher) and he a humble, sensitive, good-hearted boy. If anything, I'd say he really deserves going to Curtis... It makes me sad that he has to give up this once-in-a-lifetime chance for NS... Please write to the ST forum please!!!!

doppy said...

Mr Wang, I've always been an ardent fan. But I must say, this article of yours has left a rather sour taste in my mouth.

It's called NATIONAL service for a reason. While I disagree with the way PSC scholars get benefits to defer, two wrongs dont make a right. If anything, those privileges should certainly be stripped away.

I hate NS more than most people I know, because of the experiences i had while I was serving my time. I feel for the boy's loss. I really do. After all, NS took a large part from me too.

Yet I think there are many other boys who deserve that deferment even more than Ike does. Hence why I disagree with your recommendation.

Why are there so many boys who go AWOL just to work for hourly pay? Because their families need the money to survive! So why can't these boys get deferment?

What about the boys who could have landed jobs after their poly education? Could they have gotten a deferment back when the market was a good one? As compared to when they come out 2 years later into a horrible job market? Hey, then when their career is stable at the age of 30, they could come back and serve!

Oh, that's right. None of that is important to the nation. Who cares about the jobs and livelihood of people when we can have a musical genius to claim as our own.

Agagooga said...

Actually this is treating the symptoms w/o addressing the root cause.

The real problem is that the system of Slavery is broken.

Buay Tah Han said...

To NSF who posted on Friday, May 19, 2006 10:34:24 PM:

Defer, disrupt - wat's the diff? this priviledged gp still get to go uni earlier than u, man - wif the option of finding a sponsor to pay to break their bonds when the rite oppty surfaces (which is plentiful over there - they r hungry 4 talent - real talent - not the 3rd rate stuff the estab here prostitutes itself to acquire - & over there pays a premium tt commensurates with yr ability)

I TOTALLY AGREE WITH Ozymandias's post dtd Saturday, May 20, 2006 2:15:23 PM

Why are we forced to pay the price when we don't even enjoy comparable benefits tt grasping Chinkaporeans enjoy?!!

1. Remember the big hoo-ha some time ago abt chinks in poly badmouthing the locals? (guess who paid 4 their tuition fees? no prizes here!)

2. And oso the 2 chink athletes (boy & girl) who's SSA contract wasn't renewed due to under-performance? Their mums had the balls (sori - gall) to sue SSA. Eh, hello, if they were really gd, they'd been spotted & trained in Chinkyland. But being the 3rd rate (ahem) talent they are & having heard that the SG establishment enjoys bending over to be shafted in the rear, they tried intimidation thru legal action. But hello again, if they'd remain in Chinkyland & didn't perform, they'd been kicked out too!

3. Is the estab so F*^KING DESPO to find "talent"? Did they try looking in its own backyard 1st? Did it ask itself why there appears to be none here? Opps THEY MUST BE BLIND, LAH!

4. Some influential, charismatic & powerful indiv or group should do some serious lobbying to yank the estab's blinkers so that they can focus on the needs & wants of TRUE SG CITIZENS WHO'D WASTED 2 OR 2½ YEARS OF THEIR YOUTH PLUS COUNTLESS WEEKENDS OF RT, IPPT TRG, PLUS WEEKS OF THE REST OF OUR LIVES TILL 40+.

NB. The squeakiest wheel gets the oil. Outta sight, outta mind. Don't be the children who speak only when spoken to.

Keeping quiet gets u NOTHING!

recruit ong said...

Ike is asking for deferment, he is not asking for exemption. See the difference? therefore comparing him with Melvin the defaulter is entirely irrelevant. Or are we a facist society like in the movie Minority Report where we pre-empt and assume things?

Mindef and SAF is just fucking brainless useless organisation run by deadwood and quitters who are soooooo afraid to do the right thing, like all stat boards actually.

Marcus said...

Their kind of double standards, they will justify for themselves (white horses getting preferential treatment, white horse platoon??). The average Joe is not human and not born with parents? Why the need to classify differently? Aren't everybody who is in NS supposed to serve the country together?

What they don't feel right or doesn't fit into their greater scheme of things, they will not approve. Today, Ike's case is more of Singaporeans' dissatisfaction with the entire SAF system.

As far as i am concerned, the SAF can do away with all the pretensions, if i can live with white horses then, i can also live with special talents getting deferment now. The inequality in the system has been there from day one, preventing Ike from leaving will not change a single thing.

Agagooga said...

Singaporeans' dissatisfaction with the entire SAF system manifests itself through wishing everyone else suffers as much as they did - or better, worse.

the truth is rarely pure and never simple said...

For those who think that Ike doesn't deserve deferment because those with huge financial difficulties don't get deferment either, my only answer is that you are skirting the obvious issue. Boys with severe financial difficulties SHOULD be allowed to defer as well. My friend worked in the CPC department which administered these things, and according to him, while the letter (invariably) rejecting applications for deferment due to financial difficulty always began with something like 'after careful consideration of your circumstances, we regret...' but in fact the colonel in charge of this NEVER once bothered to read the files and never bothered to actually figure out whether there were indeed cases which deserved deferment. He was too busy drinking coffee and basically doing nothing. He just summarily rejected all appeals.

That shows you how fucked up Mindeath is. So please, have a thought for Ike. This isn't his fault. I know that playing the violin seems an offensively middle-class concern. But why drag everyone down just because of Mindeath's stupid policies? Why not say that *everyone*, middle class or working class, rich or poor, deserves to be considered for deferment when good reason arises, as surely it has arisen here?

doppy said...

Well, I think there's 2 ways of looking at it.

1. Ban everyone's deferment, including scholars, white horses, poor people, etc. This is what you call a communist move. If no one has anything, we are all equal. Everyone hates NS.

2. Allow Ike to defer, thus opening the floodgates for more appeals. The other appeals get unilaterally rejected because they don't have the same appeal to the middle and elite class as Ike's case. Ike goes overseas to study, everyone else hates NS more for their unfairness in treatment, esp the boys living in poverty.

Ultimately, everyone will still hate NS. So if I'm the person making the law, I might as well do it such that the elite class likes what i've done right? Who knows, the colonel that approves it might become some Minister of State in the future for his daring vision and willingness to take risk.

Anonymous said...

Those who argue for his deferment are ELITISTS, who value his life and musical talent over the talents and lives of others.

Why should his life be thought more important than mine? Why should his dream be thought more important than mine?

Thus, why should he get deferment, just because he has skill in playing the piano?

If you think like that, aren't you thinking just like the way you perceive the PAP thinks?

The foundation of human rights is that everyone is treated equally. We don't value Ike's life more than that of school dropout, and treat them equally.

Flosduellatorum
(2nd Amendment rights forever)

Mr Wang Says So said...

Heheh. Such inflexibility.

Next, you'll be demanding that poly students also enter NS at age 18, instead of 19. It's soooooo NOT fair that that they get a "deferment" of one year, compared to the JC students.

Btw, I had a friend who completed his BMT and then was diagnosed with leukaemia. He was discharged from NS shortly after. He died a year later.

I bet you think that's unfair too - my goodness, he only served a few months of NS.

Aiyah ..... tired of arguing with stupid people ...

Mr Wang Says So said...

NSFs from poor families - personally, I think that the SAF SHOULD have schemes (perhaps they already do) to help NSFs like that. Eg MINDEF can implement some form of a means test, and then for those NSFs, MINDEF can pay an additional $____ to the family members for each month that the NSF is serving NS.

Mr Wang Says So said...

"Allow Ike to defer, thus opening the floodgates for more appeals."

---

In practice, most floodgate problems are grossly exaggerated. See point 4 of my comment on 19 May 2:41 pm to see how easily the floodgate problem would be controlled in our present scenario.

In tackling any policy floodgate problem, you simply draw a bright line somewhere - eg "max 25 individuals a year". Some would question the "25" figure as being too large or too small or too arbitrary - on this basis, they would go on to say that the "bright line" approach is dumb and therefore no deferments should be granted.

They do not realise that they themselves are proposing to draw a bright line. Their bright line is "0" - zero deferments.

Anonymous said...

Left-wing elitists can argue forever on why the illustrious Ike should be exempted or deferred.

Personally, I hope he gets deferred, but on the principle of the matter, it is only logical that he should not be given special treatment just because of his so-called talent.

In South Korea, the big movie stars also serve their NS and get sent to the DMZ to get bored to death looking at North Korea.

We should not treat Ike like a "White Horse" just because he can play the piano well.

Let's say I am a karate champion, or a pro boxer, can I also say that I should have deferment, so that I can further my path through these important years that I can never get back?

Oh no, you might say, because karate or boxing is different from music. So here comes the leftist prejudice that values one activity over another.

Or maybe I have no talent at all, but I need to work during this period, to help out my family. Also a very good reason. But deferment? Also no.

So why should Ike get deferred? Because he is a musician?

Next, let's imagine for the sake of argument that Ike's daddy is a PAP minister. So now how? Still defer? Or shout out in outrage?

Whenever we criticise the PAP and various Singapore institutions, we fail to realize that we are probably guilty of the same prejudices as they are, but in a different form.

So many Singaporeans have given up their dreams and suffered thro NS to serve their country.

Ike should not be made into a White Horse and given special treatment, just because he has some modicum of musical talent.

This is elitist, and sadly, we have enough of this is Singapore, so let's not add to it.

Incidentally, your blog is great. keep it up.

Flosduellatorum

Anonymous said...

"Aiyah ..... tired of arguing with stupid people ..."

Incidentally, this sounds exactly like a Lee Hsien Loong quote. Fix em up, cowboy!

Your truly
Flosduellatorum

Mr Wang Says So said...

No, you're mistaken. If you're a karate exponent or a boxer, and you have some realistic chance of, say, doing very well at the SEA Games or Asian Games but you need an NS deferment to train, then yes I would say - you should be considered for deferment.

I wouldn't be keen at all to apply a rigid definition to the kinds of activities that might merit the person getting a deferment. See Point 3 of my comment on 19 May:

3. The areas of achievement need not be rigidly defined. Today it could be Ike See. Tomorrow it could be some sportsman with Olympic hopes. Next month it could be a physics prodigy on his way to discovering the Grand Unified Theory.

Fox said...

Flosduellatorum:

Personally, I hope he gets deferred, but on the principle of the matter, it is only logical that he should not be given special treatment just because of his so-called talent.


There are NS exemptions for citizens who are 'so-called' talents. Let me give you a couple of examples.

1. If you can play football very well, you can join the Singapore national football team and acquire citizenship and be exempted from NS since FAS will provide a letter of NS exemption.

2. If you choose to take up a scholarship from a particular government agency scholarship that stipulates citizenship as one of its criteria, that government agency will assist you in acquiring Singapore citizenship and being exempted from NS even if you are eligible agewise.

So, what's the big deal about deferment because of talent? The country gives exemptions for less.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps I have not conveyed my argument effectively.

It isn't that if I am a karate champion that I may also have the chance of exemption or deferment.

My point is, there should be no exceptions at all, in the ideal case.

My point is also that it is not up to the gahment or some committee to define who should get special treatment, my point is that such behaviour is elitist.

Suppose I am a champion gambler, or an aspiring pornstar. Will my skills be regarded by the committee or govt as equally valuable as that of the sportsman or musician?

They will say get lost. But once again, why should my dream be regarded as less than Ike's?

Thus, it is not up to the state or powers that be(the committee or govt) to decide who should get exemption or not.

This is the priciple that while all men are not created equally, they should be TREATED equally. The foundation of human rights and liberty.

If Ike is given special treatment, where do we stop? Maybe if malaysia attacks us, we should only let him and Melvin serve in the backlines, and let the no-talent Ah Bengs die in the front lines? Because we regard them as not so valuable, so let them die first?

Doesn't this sound like "we give upgrading first to those who support PAP?(and those who don't effectively never)"

What is morally wrong with that policy?

Firstly, the upgrading is not done with PAP money, it is done with singaporeans' money. Secondly and more relevantly in this case, it means the PAP is treating opposition voters differently from PAP voters, even though those opposition voters pay their taxes and also serve their NS(and have to die for singapore if malaysia invades us).

Thus the PAP has acted in an elitist way, valuing PAP voters more highly than opposition voters, for their own obvious reasons.

Similarly, we should not fall into the elitist trap of valuing Ike's musical skills as more worthy than the champion gambler, aspiring pornstar, or the boy who needs to work to help his family.

I know this is hard to understand, because in singapore, we do not have the same political awareness(blame the PAP)as one might have, if let's say, one grew up in america.

We should not attempt to impose our personal prejudices into societal mechanisms so that some individuals are treated unfairly from others.

Or else, we will become the PAP ourselves(heheh).

Once again, the foundation of human rights and liberty is the concept that all men must be treated equally.

Incidentally, that is also the basis of the 2nd Amendment in america, the right to bear arms.

Flosduellatorum

Anonymous said...

"There are NS exemptions for citizens who are 'so-called' talents. Let me give you a couple of examples."

Yes, and there should NOT be these examples at all, in the ideal case.

Why do these examples exist? And irritate us? It is because of state inteference in society, giving favorable treatment to some, and unfair treatment to others.

Just like the PAP says, why are you angry about our upgrading policy(give to PAP wards effectively only)? After all, it is done in other countries, OK? So don't argue with us, we know what is best for you, understand?

Just because there is already unfair exemption doesn't make it right that we must give Ike special treatment also.

However, the argument that we do need unfair practices and special treatment to nurture so-called talent is not one I can dismiss out of hand.

But let us never say, that it is fair, because it is inherently unfair and goes against the basis of human rights.

So let us see more headers:

"Porn talent crushed"

"Gambling talent crushed"

Fox said...

So, in principle, you also support female conscription?

There's nothing universal about NS in Singapore even if all male citizens were to be drafted without exceptions. For example, why aren't any of the following people conscripted:

1. Women.
2. 1st generation PR's.
3. Foreign work permit/pass holders.
4. Tourists.
5. Foreign students.

and so on, if NS is to be truly universal.

Is there an element of discrimination? Of course. By saying that all male Singaporeans should be conscripted, one is effectively excluding other groups like PR's, foreign students, etc.

Mr Wang Says So said...

I'll try to spell it more clearly for those who can't see it. This is the line of thinking.

1. First, we assume that the nation is a good thing.

2. Next, we assume that a defence force is necessary for the protection of the nation.

3. Third step is that we need many citizens to be part of this defence force. Hence NS.

4. We recognise that NS is a severe imposition on individual citizens. We take the position that the sacrifice is generally necessary.

5. To make it acceptable to the masses, we introduce the fairness concept - basically, if you're male, 18 and a citizen, you have to do it.

Those are the basic parameters. So let's say we have a case where:

(A) An individual can do good for the nation by not doing NS, or having it deferred.

(B) The good he can do for the nation by not doing NS, or having it deferred outweighs the good he can do for the nation by commecning NS immediately.

(C) The SAF's "loss" of this individual does not affect its manpower needs.

(D) Ways can be found to deal with the fairness problem.

In that case - you will see that the logical step is that the individual's NS should be deferred or he should be exempted.

Within Steps A, B, C and D, there are of course steps and sub-steps that need to be taken, and judgment calls do need to be made.

For example, in (A) & (B), we need to decide whether this is in fact true that the individual can indeed do "good" for the nation, if his NS is deferred. And we need to decide whether he would indeed do more good for the nation, if he is granted deferment, than if he is not.

(A) is where your "porn talent crushed" or your "gambling talent crushed" examples would probably fail.

(C) is the floodgates problem. As I mentioned before, there are ways to control this problem.

(D) is another problem. As I also mentioned before, there are also ways to control the problem.

If you walk through steps (A) to (D), you can also probably see why female Singaporeans are not required to do NS. Arguably you would also see why the government has decided that under current conditions, PSC OMS government scholars can be granted deferments.

The challenge for you then is to comprehend that there could well be other male Singaporeans who meet the requirements set out in (A) to (D).

Beware of absolute rules. Life is too complex, dynamic and interesting to be effectively reducible to single statements of law.

Anonymous said...

dead guy didn't complete his NS? that's unfair, its only because MINDEF doesn't have the means to prosecute or punish the dead.

Anonymous said...

The problem with your argument and your A,B,C,D, is simple.

Who will decide upon whether these categories are satisfied?

You? The PAP? Or some left-wing elitist group?

That is why I define the argument for special treatment as ELITIST, because it calls for someone(like the govt)to decide who gets special treatment.

The way I see it, a champion gambler or aspiring pornstar has just as much right to deferment as Ike.

This is the same argument used in america to define the right to bear arms by all people, rich and poor, president or pauper. Everybody's life is the same value, so everyone has the right to firearms to protect his life, whether you are George Bush, John Kerry or a poor single mother in Harlem.

Yet liberal elitists would allow only rich people to carry arms(or have armed bodyguards) but nor poor ones.

The flaw you do not see, is that you assume your prejudices are logically what is ideal for society.

In effect, you are saying that the life of the aspiring pornstar or champion gambler is worth less than that of the musician Ike.

Are you sure you want to do that?

Then you shouldn't complain if the PAP says that bloggers are trouble makers also.

Because they are doing just the same thing, imposing their prejudices upon you.

Flosduellatorum

Mr Wang Says So said...

"Who will decide upon whether these categories are satisfied?
You? The PAP? Or some left-wing elitist group?"

See Point 5 of my comment (Friday, May 19, 2006 2:41:50 PM) on who should decide.

See Point 7 of my comment (Friday, May 19, 2006 2:41:50 PM) on how they can be made accountable.

Those were just some quick suggestions. Naturally there are other possibilities.

Btw, in any social system, you need decision-makers for different things. The existence of decision-makers does not in itself make the system elitist.

In a school, the principal may be the decision-maker. In the family, the parents may be the decision-maker. In a company, the CEO may be the decision-maker. In an SAF unit, the CO may be the decision-maker. In the operating theatre, the surgeon may be the decision-makker.

This in itself does not mean schools, families, companies, SAF units and operating theatres are elitist.

Anonymous said...

Female singaporeans to serve NS? Fine with me. But since no one asks us to serve, then how?

Look at all the hero-ines standing up against the PAP now. They are all women. Sylvia, Glenda, even CheeSC(from Self Destruct Party).

My understanding is that the only place women lose out to men in military matters is in upper body strength.

In marathons, the women come in only 10-20 mins behind the men. I usually come in under 5 hours(singapore).

Look at gy/sgt Julia Watson, USMCR. She has won almost every major rifle competition in the US, against open, unisex fields. Even the Carlos Hathcock trophy goes to her. Thus you could say that one of the best competition rifle shooters in the US is a woman.

Look at Capt Kim Campbell(callsign:"Killer Chick"-so cute), who flew an A-10 in the Gulf war.

I am told that the pilot with the most kills ever since WW2 is a woman.

Now after that declaration, let me answer ozymandias by saying, I too agree that many people are exempted or deferred when they should not be.

But just because this unfair situation exists, it does not render invalid the principle that all men must be treated the same.

flosduellatorum

Anonymous said...

"Btw, in any social system, you need decision-makers for different things. The existence of decision-makers does not in itself make the system elitist.

In a school, the principal may be the decision-maker. In the family, the parents may be the decision-maker. In a company, the CEO may be the decision-maker. In an SAF unit, the CO may be the decision-maker. In the operating theatre, the surgeon may be the decision-makker.

This in itself does not mean schools, families, companies, SAF units and operating theatres are elitist."

Unfortunately, the problem with this analogy is that we must see just exactly what these decision makers decide upon.

If the decision is "We should order more cotton buds" then obviously it is different from "We shall pass laws in our rubberstamp parliament to control internet bloggers".

flosduellatorum

Mr Wang Says So said...

You have no response to my preceding comment?

Never mind then.

Let's talk about the ladies. Recall:

1. First, we assume that the nation is a good thing.

2. Next, we assume that a defence force is necessary for the protection of the nation.

3. Third step is that we need many citizens to be part of this defence force. Hence NS.

4. We recognise that NS is a severe imposition on individual citizens. We take the position that the sacrifice is generally necessary.

5. To make it acceptable to the masses, we introduce the fairness concept - basically, if you're male, 18 and a citizen, you have to do it.

---

Thing is that for the ladies, at step 3, we probably would conclude that they aren't needed for the SAF to be effective. If Singapore faced significantly higher military threats than it does, then female conscription might make sense. But it doesn't. So we stop at Step 3. We won't impose on the ladies because there's no need for such imposition, and the fairness issue in Step 5 does not come into consideration at all.

Your arguments about how well women might perform in the military is irrelevant. The point is that there is no need for them to be conscripted en masse.

Anonymous said...

Thus, may I continue by saying that some decisions impact greatly upon many people and also arouse much argument and controversy.

It is with these decisions that we should not have some elitist decision-maker appointed by the PAP or some elitist group. Better that we simply have a policy that is fair for all.

Thousands of singaporeans have sacrificed their dreams and years of their life(with according opportunities)to NS. For every Ike, there are a hundred shadow Ikes who never had us brave internet bloggers to stand up for them. They sacrificed, and so should he.

As ozymandias pointed out, there are already many unfair exemptions and deferments. Let's not add to them and make more white horses.

flos

Anonymous said...

"Your arguments about how well women might perform in the military is irrelevant. The point is that there is no need for them to be conscripted en masse."

Of course they are irrelevant. They are just there to entertain and enlighten you men.

flos

Anonymous said...

Sadly, my basic argument is not being carried across here.

It is simply that all men must be treated equally. This is the basis of respect for your fellow men and all human rights. That's all.

Now if you don't agree with that, it's no point writing on.

But hopefully you do.

About conscription, the needs for the nation's security are very important but irrelevant to the argument.

You are saying that ike's deferment won't affect the nation's defence needs.

I say this is irrelevant, because by the same argument, the ah beng who needs to work to support his family can also be deferred and it won't affect the nation's needs either.

The question about Ike is thus NOT "If we defer him will it affect our defense?"

But rather, "If we defer him, are we being UNFAIR to all the others?"

And the answer to that is a resounding mandate.

flos

Anonymous said...

As to the question of fairness, of course women should serve NS. But since we aren't called, we don't go.

As I said, there are many unfair exemptions and deferments(women not serving NS is one).

But this should not affect the principle of equal treatment for all.

In any case, another irrelevant point and a "no brainer"(following LeeHS) also:

I would serve NS anytime rather than go through carrying a baby for 9 months and going through childbirth.

You want? I exchange it anytime with you.

flos

Fox said...

Flos:

So, you also advocate that foreign students and tourists should also do NS in the name of universal equality?

Are you sure it's wise to stop taking your meds?

Oh, do you also know that you can be a Singaporean woman and choose not to have children?

Anonymous said...

Ozy, there is no need to get emotional just because someone disagrees with you.

From the way you are talking about me taking meds(the old internet insult ever since blogging started), you sound rather upset.

Suggest you go off and watch some porn, since this discussion is too mature for you.

flos

Mr Wang Says So said...

You said:

The question about Ike is thus NOT "If we defer him will it affect our defense?"

But rather, "If we defer him, are we being UNFAIR to all the others?"

-----

Sorry, I don't agree. If it were that way, NS should just be abolished and no one should have to do it - then that would be perfectly fair.

The starting point must be that NS is necessary for the nation's security. Otherwise the discussion would be markedly different.

Having agreed that NS is necessary for the nation's security, we then consider the how's, why's, what's or "NS deferments" and NS.

Deferments had been possible as recently as December last year. How come no one said then that this was unfair?

What has really changed between Dec 05 and May 06? Nothing except a policy. Which is after all man-made. And therefore can be changed by man again.

Anonymous said...

Hi Wang, I hope that we do not degrade this discussion into an insult-trading excercise.

As I said, I recently came across your blog and find it very enjoyable. I respect the effort and guts needed to set up a blog like this, and think it's great.

People never agree on many things, and this is something I hope we can all accept.

Perhaps this thread has become a bit too long and we should move on to other topics.

Catch you later.

Flos

singaporean said...

I think I have to disagree with Mr Wang and agree with flos that there is no fair means of selection: A talent to Mr Wang may mean squat to me. If Bill Gates had to wait two years to found Microsoft, he would have missed the whole boat. In fact, he was in such a hurry he couldnt even wait to complete school. What kind of visionary would it take to see the difference the two years would make? (Whether it was better or worse off for mankind is another issue altogether).

Besides, when will it ever be convenient for Ike See to serve NS? When he retires from the music scene at 70?

The REAL big step we are should push forward, is to reduce the length of our full time NS. Switzerland shares a border with Germany and is within a stone's throw from the former Communist bloc: their NS is only 9 months now (recently reduced). I believe shortening NS will go a long way in cutting waste in both MINDEF, and the costs to the citizens. It is complete nonsense to think we need two whole years to train foot soldiers. The officers may need more time, and should duly be compensated like a real soldier in terms of pay, and recognition in the community. If the likes of Ike See is in a hurry to leave, that he can stay a stinking foot soldier and leave early.

But I tend to think that women should learn to talk less about comparing NS with childbirth, lest stupid people like me may start to think about making women who fail to get pregnant by 30, a criminal offender with mandatory 2 years jail time.

Anonymous said...

"Sorry, I don't agree. If it were that way, NS should just be abolished and no one should have to do it - then that would be perfectly fair.

The starting point must be that NS is necessary for the nation's security. Otherwise the discussion would be markedly different.

Having agreed that NS is necessary for the nation's security, we then consider the how's, why's, what's or "NS deferments" and NS.

Deferments had been possible as recently as December last year. How come no one said then that this was unfair?

What has really changed between Dec 05 and May 06? Nothing except a policy. Which is after all man-made. And therefore can be changed by man again."
------------------------
Certainly it would be fair if nobody had to serve NS.

However, as you say, it is needed for national defence.

From here onwards, I respectfully disagree. Since it has been unfairly determined by the govt that only men should serve(and not women), then I say from here onwards, the principle of fairness and equal treatment for the men must now apply.

As ozy pointed out, there are many unfair exemptions and deferments.

I see some PRs, 30+, and recently converted to singapore citizenship, and they don't need to serve NS. Of course it is unfair.

So the argument is, if the govt can allow that, why can't they allow Ike to defer? Of course they can. It is the PAP. It can do ANYTHING.

But my point is, it still is unfair, because of the reasons I have written earlier.

Why did no one complain about deferments? Must be Melvin. If an unfair practice is done quietly, well nobody screams out.

Look at the US, in the last election, where George Bush was castigated for "avoiding" vietnam service(he flew fighter jets in texas national guard, which is not without danger). His critics regarded this as not service compared to John Kerry, whose service was riding a patrol boat in relative safety on the Mekong river and shooting up innocent vietnamese from the safety of his boat.

So in every place, arguments about fair and unfair are never ending.

Perhaps we should simply note each other's viewpoints and turn to some other topic, at least for today.

I will be a bit busy this afternoon, but hope to look at other topics later.

Once again, great blog, keep up the good work.

Flos

Anonymous said...

"But I tend to think that women should learn to talk less about comparing NS with childbirth, lest stupid people like me may start to think about making women who fail to get pregnant by 30, a criminal offender with mandatory 2 years jail time."
---------------------------
Aiyah, actually I was just joking.

Let's meet up and I will have your child.

Flos
(now I really need to concentrate on my work--I cannot multitask like Sylvia)

See you later

Mr Wang Says So said...

Singaporean said:

"I think I have to disagree with Mr Wang and agree with flos that there is no fair means of selection: A talent to Mr Wang may mean squat to me."

----------

Funny thing is that I agree fully with you when you say that a talent to me may mean squat to you. Vice versa too.

But the subjectivity element doesn't mean that we can't make fair decisions.

Example - some Singaporeans can be completely exempted from NS on medical grounds. I don't think we would dispute that. Eg a Singaporean who has lost two legs.

Well, what about a Singaporean who has one leg. Then what about a Singaporean who has two legs, but only one foot. Then what about a Singaporeans who has two legs, two feet, but only two toes. Then what about a Singaporean who has two legs, two feet and six toes. Then what about a Singaporean who has two legs, two feet and nine toes.

Obviously we need a decision here. Who should make it? Obviously the SAF must have some kind of process. Eg there is some kind of SAF medical board, and perhaps the process is that the case must be reviewed by a junior doctor, and approved by two senior ones, or whatever.

And maybe they'll decide that the guy with no legs can be exempted, the guy with one leg can be exempted; the guy with two legs, two feet and nine toes is combat-fit; and the rest are fit for clerical work in the SAF.

Where's the fairness? The fairness comes from the fact that there is an independent, impartial panel of properly qualified people - the doctors - to decide, and how they decide is determined by some guidelines that they have. So that's why it's fair.

Point is - there can similarly be a process to consider the cases for NS deferments.

Singaporean, you said this:

".. when will it ever be convenient for Ike See to serve NS? When he retires from the music scene at 70?"

The deferment is for him to attend a particular course at a particular institution. I don't think that the course runs until he's 70.

And also I do agree with you that it could be possible to reduce the length of our NS time. But that's a separate issue.

Anonymous said...

What is the value to Singapore of Ike's enrollment into Curtis? Not much. Singapore can miss a talent or two.

Why would someone support Ike's deferment? Because I sympathise with him situation.

However, if Mindef allows Ike to defer, it will have a hard time justifying its likely rejection of many other appeals. Here, I believe Mindef made the right choice. Many who served NS will feel that they have lost opportunities. Many guys struggle during their first months in NUS/NTU after NS. Some failed to make it into the course of choice and it affected their subsequent career. That's life.

My advice to Ike: Nobody owes you a living. If you want to make it, work harder to overcome the handicap of NS.

Yeah, f--- NS.

singaporean said...

In the field of theoretical physics, it is widely agreed that the productivity of a scientist goes downhill, after turning 30. As much as an undergraduate education help in jumpstarting a talent, the process doesnt stop there. If Ike See doesnt get crushed now, he may still get crushed later, when he again seeks deferment for postgrad education or upon graduation work opportunity in some world class organisation. There will never be a good time for a talent to be doing anything other than sharpening his/her skills.

A medical condition is easy to quantify, a talent is not so easy to quantify. Besides, who is to say that nurturing a talent is more important than, say, feeding family members. So many Singaporeans are living hand to mouth that when their breadwinners are called up for NS, the family get plunged into poverty. (Yes, our proud country is one that pays our ministers millions but feed our national servicemen peanutskins)

If we want to pressure Mindef into action, we better be clear about what we want, or we will see more backfire scenarios like Melvyn Tan -> Ike See. Deferment schemes for flavour of the day talent is not enough, because it doesnt solve the basic problem: that the talents cannot afford to wait two years, not now, not in five years, or even ten years.

Wouldnt it be better if we all agree get it over with within a year?

Mr Wang Says So said...

"What is the value to Singapore of Ike's enrollment into Curtis? Not much. Singapore can miss a talent or two."

The flip side, of course, is that the following statement is even more true:

"What is the value to Singapore of Ike's enlistment into the SAF? Not much. Singapore can miss a soldier or two."

The value of Ike's enrolment in Curtis - it's quite easy to link it to various national policies to promote Singapore as an arts hub etc. Ike See in Singapore arts scene matters a lot more, I would say, than Ike See in the SAF.

As for this:

"However, if Mindef allows Ike to defer, it will have a hard time justifying its likely rejection of many other appeals."

... rejection (or acceptance, for that matter) is relatively easy if you bother to implement a process by which you properly consider each case.

Again, you can refer to my comment on Friday, May 19, 2006 2:41:50 PM.

When a proper process is in place, the rest is ... well, just a process. It's like a judge hearing a court case. He follows certain rules, he takes into account the evidence presented etc and he makes a decision. And if he follows the rules properly, then no allegation of unfairness can arise. The judge wouldn't say, "Oh, all plaintiffs must surely win. All defendants must surely lose."

That kind of absolute rule would be as silly as saying "All male Singaporeans must do NS at age 18 and none can get deferments" -

forgetting that some male Singaporeans are crippled;

and others are PSC scholars;

and some are serving prison sentences;

and some are terminally ill; and

some are poly students doing a three-year-course;

and some wish to start serving NS earlier under the SAF scheme for earlier enlistment;

and some may be undergoing sex change operations to become women;

and some may be mentally ill;

and some may be suspected of having terrorist links; AND ....

... some may come with a variety of possibly entertainable reasons like

"I have a place in Curtis Institute that won't wait" or

"I have reasonable chances of winning Singapore's first Olympic gold if I am allowed to train full-time" or

"Prime Minister Lee wants me to represent Singapore at the next United Nations Conference for International Youth Empowerment, and I need a three-month NS deferment to prepare for that".

Mr Wang Says So said...

"Besides, who is to say that nurturing a talent is more important than, say, feeding family members. So many Singaporeans are living hand to mouth that when their breadwinners are called up for NS, the family get plunged into poverty."

----------

True ... this is a problem. It should be tackled too. Who knows, NS deferments might be the way, or perhaps even exemptions, or perhaps some kind of financial assistance scheme.

(But none of the above leads to the conclusion that Ike See should not get a deferment).

I can imagine a situation where there's some poor old sick bedridden diabetic 75-year-grandmother with no one in the world to look after her and who would die alone of starvation in her one-room HDB flat if not for her 18-year-old grandson, who just got called up for NS.

And yes, in such a case, I'd say it seems quite possibly correct to entertain the possibility of an NS deferment or exemption or otherwise some kind of special financial & other aid for the granny.

Is that really very difficult to contemplate? That the state should offer this kind of help?

The late 2SG ONG JIA HUI said...

FUCK NS!!!

If you believe in their propaganda, the 3G SAF is now more lethal & effective with the need for fewer soldiers.

In that case I SAY AGAIN - FUCK NS and stop conscription!!! Employing a professional army who consistently train with commitment will be more effective.

Why? 'cos those Cat Y/Z uncles simply CMI (cannot make it) when it's DEFCON. If peacetime mob & IPPT is so dismal, wat u think @ DEFCON 1?

Those Men-In-White would've zharboed first!

G2 MINDEF (intell) has a dedicated hotline to them & their families so they can parachute to safety on foreign soil in a heartbeat (got SOP & manual in encrypted PDF, some more, u know!).

From their rear echalon, they'll continue to "direct field operations" in peace & safety while us peasant become cannon fodder. Why you think our tok-gong gear's parked overseas? ;-)

Trust me, I've witnessed their classified S.E.R.E (Survival, Evasion, Resistance & Escape) training - wah lau eh, very the siao on, man! They give FULL EMPHASIS ON ESCAPE because their favourite military strategy is Sun Zi's doctrine of 逃走 (ie. running away).

So, now - as if that's not enuf - you have to cover the asses of these (ig)noble friends, favourites & foreigners just so they can continue their self-serving exploitation & blood-sucking at the expense of us peasants. Eh ... we got no corruption like neigbouring countries, you know ... riiiite ... when you've got a million or two in salary PLUS PENSION AFTER 55 ... yaaahhh, who needs "corruption" ;-)

Look @ how they (mis)govern the nation - iron-grip - no chance to breathe free air! (I know what's it like 'cos MY COUNTRY DROWNED ME!!!)

I DIED IN NS - AND FOR FUCK?!!! - And had to die for this type of 无情无义 (trans: heartless & cruel) one-party government? I hope you still remember me & the futile sacrifice I made - please pray for my family & the peace of my soul .....

Anonymous said...

Ehh, this thread is going on and on, and now we even have dead people in it.

With all the argument about fairness and what Ike's talent or NS means to singapore, the more I see it as fair to all other NS serving singaporeans that Ike does not get special treatment.

I don't agree with the argument that "since Ike's NS service won't affect SG's defence capability significantly we should treat him like a white horse and defer him."

The crux of the matter is fairness, not National Defence.

It won't be fair to the rest of the young boys for Ike to get deferred, just because some people think his piano-playing makes him more special than a boy who needs to work to help his family, or a boy who has a talent that is not recognised by the elite establishment.

A medical condition is different from making a value judgemenet about about the worthiness of somebody's talent.

Any panel to determine who is a whitehorse for NS, is just an avenue for more elitist and Govt control to creep in the lives of Singaporeans.

This is called liberal elitism in the beginning and turns into state fascism at the end, heheh.

Flos

Mr Wang Says So said...

I guess that's where we defer.

I see NS as important for national security. Not for fairness.

It's not "fair" that SAF NS officers have to serve 10 years longer than non-officers, but I can see the rationale, from the "national security" point of view.

whybegay said...

Although it was quite a while ago of the Ike See aka See Ian Ike case, let me say something objective about it now because I have been very caught up with something else.

The reasons why I think Mindef was right to reject his deferment are quite a few.

1. Firstly they cannot be partial to some people and be made to be seen as promoting special elite classes in Singapore, such as the case of pianist Melvin Tan for instance.

2. The non-musically-inclined layman would not have heard much of Curtis Institute of music. They may have heard much of Ivy League Schools like Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, Cambridge and Oxford etc but tell them about Curtis and it would not ring a note in their ears. As Mindef said, they would only allow deferment for "special" circumstances, which means they do not think being accepted to Curtis is "special" enough, it is as simple as that.

3. Singapore really do not have a good history of world-acclaimed violinists and musicians. (I have really never heard of Melvin Tan before he came back to Singapore, I don't think he's world acclaimed enough). And then there are Siow Lee Chin, Lee Huei Min, Kam Ning, Wong Yuuki etc but they have not really made a very significant impact on the world stage in order for many Singaporeans to feel that Singapore violinists are indeed "special". Vanessa Mae doesn't count because although she was born in Singapore under a Singaporean mother and thai father, she left to live overseas when she was four, and now she's holding Thai and British passports. And I have not forgotten of the violin loan scheme initiated by the late President Dr Ong Teng Cheong to whom Siow Lee Chin was the first recipient. She was loaned till dec 2005 a JB Guadagnini worth about 600k after she had a tea session with him telling him of her difficulties in the international world stage because she did not have a good instrument to work with and the next day got a call from him about the good news. But our Singaporean violinists are still not famous enough for them to receive special privileges.

4. It is a national obligation for all Singaporean males to serve NS, unless one is affiliated with a government organisation before one has to serve NS, one may not get much NS flexibility. The parents of all Singaporean males know perfectly clear of their son's future national obligations when they got the gender test results during pregnancy.

5. Musical talents should always start as young as possible, as what Ike's first music teacher said through her forum letter in the papers. And Ike has received many invitations by good music teachers to study overseas but his parents could not(do not want to?) afford the very high costs. So one can also say that the problems faced by Ike right now is because his parents were not dedicated and supportive enough to risk money for their son's talents. They hesitated and dragged on for too long, neglecting their son's talents for so many years. So to be objective, I can say that it is also the fault of his parents that led to Ike's problems right now. They should not have dragged on too long before leading to all the last minute rush for the tryings to get overseas education. I mean to learn music, especially the violin, one must be financially (very)well-supported since young to purchase and learn the instrument properly. But if one requires financial assistance, one should have taken more initiative to seek out (private) sponsors. One must never expect the government to risk wasting a few hundred thousand dollars of tax payer's money on a violin student that may or may not be worth the investment.

Last but not least, are people blaming the government for almost all of their problems, including problems caused by their own lack of dedication and faith for their children's talents and their own financial incapabilities? I mean one cannot expect everything in the world to work their way everytime, one cannot always have their cake and eat it every single time, because the world is not just the person himself, there are also others who share this world.

Anonymous said...

http://www.petitiononline.com/ike_see/petition.html

Anonymous said...

Put it simply, the PAP has developed the 'fine art' of shooting itself in the foot when it comes to nurturing true local talents. Just my thoughts...

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