Too Quick to Congratulate Ourselves

The adoration and adulation some people heap on the government can make my hair stand.

One such ass-kisser wrote to TODAY yesterday congratulating and thanking Singapore’s Internal Security Department and Malaysia’s Special Branch “for the excellent and protracted investigation and cooperation that led to the successful arrest of Mas Selamat Kastari.”

He gleefully went on to ask “With him now safely in police custody, pray, anti-government critics, what have you got to say now?”

And he concluded his letter by pronouncing “Those who had a field day criticizing the Government and the ISD, and audaciously challenging Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Home Affairs Wong Kang Seng to resign, you have said your piece last year and now, in shame, you must remain silent forever.”

One of Straits Times’ own journalists even gushed “I am proud that Singapore authorities managed to graciously tolerate the brickbats from their detractors while oh-so-secretly working behind-the-scenes to salvage the situation – and perhaps even find out more about Jemaah Islamiyah’s network in the process.”

Why can’t some people understand the citizens’ expectations that the government that they have elected into office ought to be doing its job effectively, why can’t they understand the citizens’ wrath when despite all the superlatives we’ve heaped on ourselves, we’ve allowed a known jailbreaker – who walks with a limp – to hoodwink Singapore’s best and brightest and slipped away in broad daylight?

Come on, Mas Selamat may have been caught, but let’s not be too quick to congratulate ourselves.

Let’s not forget that in the first place, he walked out from under the very noses of our ISD officials. (So, for ISD to move quickly to set things right is the least it can do.)

Let’s not forget that long after his escape, we were still insisting that he was still in Singapore when information now reveals that in fact he swam across the Straits of Johor using an “improvised flotation device” in his dash to freedom “soon after” his escape.

Finally let’s not forget that he was recaptured by the Malaysians and our own cabinet ministers were not told about it until last Thursday and when told they were completely taken by surprise.

Let’s not forget because didn’t George Santayana once said that those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it?

I speak for myself, but oh, no I will not “now, in shame, remain silent forever”.

And the dimwits out there better get this right: Just because I criticize the government doesn’t make me “anti-government”.

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