(The lesser mortal on the right with one of her good friend. )
At least now I know that PAP MP view me as one of the lesser mortals .....
makes life a lot easier living in Singapore knowing that
1. I am lesser than ....
- anyone who has a scholership,
- goes to Cambridge or Oxford,
- do PPE (Philosophy, Political Science and Economic)and
- get a Admin Service job or be a backbench MP
Thank you MP Charles Chong for enlightening this lesser mortal. I will remember to bow to the God when I met one.
Ill-timed article cooks up a storm Tuesday •
January 20, 2009
HIS five-week family trip to Paris to learn cooking at the famed Le Cordon Bleu culinary school appeared as a self-penned travelogue in The Straits Times on Jan 6. Soon, Mr Tan Yong Soon’s article was re-appearing in blogs and Internet forums as netizens reacted to the expensive holiday taken by the permanent secretary at the Environment and Water Resources Ministry.
Yesterday, the Government made it clear the story was “insensitive and ill-judged”, given the current economic climate. Taking a question from Nominated MP Siew Kum Hong, Defence Minister Teo Chee Hean, who is the Minister in charge of the Civil Service, said that although Mr Tan’s vacation was a private decision, he was “disappointed” with what was published.
Referring to the article, Mr Siew had asked if the Civil Service had guidelines for senior civil servants to conduct themselves “appropriately and sensitively”, especially in a time of a recession.
The article told of how Mr Tan, his wife and son had signed up last June for a cooking course, which costs €7,750 ($15,200) per person for a basic programme.
“It struck a discordant note during the current economic circumstances, when it was especially important to show solidarity and empathy to Singaporeans who are facing uncertainty and hardship,” Mr Teo replied.
The head of the Civil Service, Mr Peter Ho, has asked Mr Tan to “take note of the feedback and learn from this episode” and has put the matter “on record”, said Mr Teo.
When contacted, Mr Ho said: “It is part of the duty of civil servants to be sensitive to challenges faced by Singaporeans, especially in difficult times like these. The leadership of the Civil Service – the Permanent Secretaries – must exemplify this sensitivity. This is vital for Government to be able to formulate and implement policies effectively.”
Among the comments in his story, Mr Tan had written, “Taking five weeks’ leave from work is not as difficult as one thinks. ... if you are a good leader who has built up a good team, it is possible to go away for five weeks or even longer.”
Calling the episode a “setback” for the Service, Mr Ho added: “My colleagues and I feel very bad about this episode, because it stands in contrast to the values and ethos of the Service, and if left unaddressed, can undermine the confidence and trust essential for us to do a good job. “Our first duty is to serve Singapore and Singaporeans, and we should always conduct ourselves with decorum and humility. Everything takes its marking from this,” he said, listing the values of the Singapore Public Service: Integrity, service and excellence.
Mr Tan could not be reached for comment.
MP Arthur Fong agreed that Mr Tan could have been more sensitive about the timing of the story. “It was harsh on him, but the timing wasn’t good,” said Mr Fong. “Perhaps people wouldn’t even blink if this story came out in good times.”
Agreeing that the rebuke in Parliament was “harsh”, MP Charles Chong noted that Mr Tan didn’t “brag” about how expensive the trip was in the article. “Maybe it made lesser mortals envious and they thought maybe he was a little bit boastful,” he said. “Would people have taken offence if his wife (a senior investment counsellor at a bank) had paid for everything?”