Saturday, January 24, 2009

Joining the ranks

In a bid to have the last and final word on the whole fracas, Mr Peter Ho, Head of Civil Service, wrote in to the forum page of AssTee and the letter was published in today's papers.

Should we rank Mr Tan together with Mr John "Merrill Lynch" Thain who spent US$1,400 for a waste paper basket in his brand spanking new office and subsequently was removed, the excutives of AIG who had a St Regis resort holiday after a US$85 billion bailout or the Big 3 US carmakers who flew to Washington in private jets and begged for taxpayers' money?

Sensitivity is an art. You cannot learn it from being an SAF Overseas Scholar. They have yet to offer this subject in University of Cambridge. It may have been included as part of a module in Public Administration at Havard Business School but still, it's not a passing requirement.

But in the university of life and school of hard knocks, you will never forget this lesson when the class is over.

I have nothing against Mr Tan Yong Soon for spending his own money on a Le Cordon Bleu. In fact, I thought it was blown out of proportion. It's very different from the cases in US where public funds were used to bail the companies out. No doubt Mr Tan was a public servant and his pay is indirectly drawn from the nation's coffers but it is not as if the regulars in SAF, the police in SPF and blah blah aren't. The key thing was that he is in a senior leadership position.

Is this a reminder for the government that many of our leaders are not voted in? That they have not been through the "crucible of struggle" but they are as good as we can get?