Saturday, July 14, 2007

Li Hongyi Makes it to Financial Times

I'm going out for dinner. I'll come back to comment on the article.
In the meantime please fill free to expres what you think..... do leave your comments.

I'm back. I slept on it and woke up with an answer.

He wrote in his capacity as a citizen of Singapore as far as I know the SAF even its highest echelons is answerable to the citizens of Singapore. I guess there are procedures/rules in place and he had to be punished for not following them.

I just have a few comments on the FT article:

“No ordinary OCT [officer cadet trainee] would dare to write such a letter addressed to all the big guns in the [defence] ministry".

Only in non-democratic countries people fear their leaders. Do people fear George Bush in USA? Do people fear Tony Blair? People don't fear authority in real democracies. That is probably why Li was not afraid to speak his mind.

Mr Li was apparently being groomed for a future leadership role after being awarded a government scholarship to study economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Singapore military has served as a training ground for political leaders

In a real meritocracy, competition is kept alive and as broad as possible so that people with the highest ability will emerge. FT is wrongly accusing our beloved govt of un-meritocratic practices by grooming certain individuals for higher appointment. Meritocracy has been upheld as the cornerstone of our society and it will fail if we undermine it by grooming selected individuals for certain appointment killing the spirit of competition. A govt that works for the interest of the people will never do this.

“SAF is not a charity organisation and does not owe anyone a career”.

I'm glad Li Hongyi understands this. It explains the high level of competence among the top leaders in the SAF. Our former CDF (Chief Defense Force) was given a specially created position in Temasek Holdings and his predeccessor is now heading shows how versatile their talents are being able to contribute to diverse fields after their stint in the SAF.

E-mail by Singapore PM’s son backfires
By John Burton in Singapore

Published: July 13 2007 18:02 Last updated: July 13 2007 18:02

A son of Singapore’s prime minister has been reprimanded for e-mailing a complaint about a fellow army officer to the country's defence minister and hundreds of other military personnel. The case involving Li Hongyi has served as a lightning rod for criticism on the internet of his family’s political power.

The defence ministry said on Friday it had issued the reprimand against Mr Li, 20, after his 2,000-word letter of complaint was posted on the internet and drew widespread attention.

Mr Li, a 2nd lieutenant, is the first-born son of Lee Hsien Loong, the prime minister, and Ho Ching, head of Temasek Holdings, the state investment company, and grandson of Lee Kuan Yew, independent Singapore's first leader. The letter provoked complaints on the internet about the Lee family's political dominance in Singapore.

“No ordinary OCT [officer cadet trainee] would dare to write such a letter addressed to all the big guns in the [defence] ministry,” read one posting on an internet political chatroom. The internet has emerged as a forum for political criticism of the government in a country where the media is guided by the state.
Mr Li, who is doing his compulsory military service, sent the e-mail last month to Teo Chee Hean, the defence minister, senior military leaders and other army personnel complaining that a colleague had gone absent without leave on two occasions but that no action had been taken by his superiors.

The defence ministry said that Mr Li had gone outside the chain of command “by broadcasting his letter of complaint to many other servicemen – almost all of whom were neither directly under his command, nor in an official capacity where they could deal with the matters contained in his letter of complaint”.

Much of the internet criticism commented on suggestions that Mr Li was apparently being groomed for a future leadership role after being awarded a government scholarship to study economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Singapore military has served as a training ground for political leaders and executives in state companies. Mr Li’s father was a brigadier general before entering politics. Temasek announced last week that a former head of the Singapore armed forces had been appointed to the newly created post of portfolio management managing director.
In his complaint letter, Mr Li said his colleague’s continued service in the military was an “embarrassment” and that the armed forces was “not a charity organisation and does not owe anyone a career”. The defence ministry said that the officer accused by Mr Li had since been court martialled.


Anonymous said...

Be gentle with the kid... he could be our next PM.

Anonymous said...

Why worry about the wayang?

blisteringbarnacles said...

Actually, i dont see what is wrong with his action in that he actually complained about a chao geng officer. None of us dared to do that, and i know that i would love to complain about a few of my officers back in NS, if i were not so scared. Actually, i would go so far to say that i hope more "elites" are like him, daring to whistle blow on civil servants( i take it to liberally mean as people whose pay are funded by our taxes), and do so on either the internet or elsewhere. Otherwise, all of us taxpayers are none the wiser for the transgressions that take place. So, i think that this is actually a positive example.

Anonymous said...

None of us dared to do that, and i know that i would love to complain about a few of my officers back in NS, if i were not so scared.

That's because none of us are sons of the Lee dynasty. LOL
What he did was ikan bilis. It is not like he blew the whistle on NKF or some multi-million scandal. In fact he appears to have a personal axe to grind and instead of settling the matter in its rightful context, chose to blow the matter out of proportion.

Anonymous said...

There are bigger injustice in the army that we will NEVER get to see, ever. An officer complained about other officers, that's all.

He is not in the inner circles to know the wheeling and dealing. He only scratches the surface. And the MSM made a big deal - part of damage control, to stop further probing.

I care for those soldiers who died needlessly and did not get enough exposure.

Anonymous said...

the father is a PM. proximity to such intoxicating power can sometimes disturd neurogenic disorder. even PM's chaffeur soaking up his 'anointing' is not spared what more a descendant from a Royal bloodline huh? and when he raised a pertinent issue( no doubt relevant) and was unjustly ignored or was incompetently handled, he flexed his little muscles to remind his superiors of his pedigree certification.

this is a boy who is probably impatient, trigger happy and thus the need to affirm his future role in the larger scheme of things to come.

but hey, that's a lousy way of putting it

probably, he is an upright person and can't stand the stench of hypocrisy in a tightly enclosed armour tank.

he deserves to be the poster boy for the crusaders.

Anonymous said...

Wow, if only we had emails and internet in 1969-1971! I'm a has been, done that 3rd batch NSman. This is my story.

It happened on a Friday! I was a Cpl doing NS as Acting Sgt in an Armoured Battalion. My buddy and I did not attend an OCS Selection Obstacle/PE Test at Safti and we reported to our Manpower officer. MPO said he will take action on us when complaint came from CMPB.

When we went back to Co. line, CSM (Company Sargeant Major), a regular Sgt hauled us up and told us I had to 'take one' BOS (Battalion Orderly Sargeant) duty and my buddy had to 'take one' as a Guard Commander on that same Friday. We told him that MPO was handling the case and we did not wish do to be punished twice even we did not follow the RO (Routine Order) He threatened us that if we did not obey him, he'd bring it up to OC. We told him to go ahead as we felt it wasn't fair for us to be punished more than once for what we did or did not do.

OC did one better! He told us to 'take 2' each. I had to do BOS and my buddy had to do GC on the same Friday PLUS Sunday. We told the OC we would do the extras if he was able guarantee us that we would not be punished by MPO again for the same offence. We were young, idealistic and believed in fair play and justice!

Fat hope! OC laughed at us like we were morons, told us to F--- off and do the extras!

Well, lan lan we had to follow law, law. Take 2 instead of 1 lor!

But on the way out of OC's office, CSM had the cheek and audacity to call my buddy up and quietly tell him that actually he was rostered in RO to be BOS on that Friday. All he wanted was to get me to replace him. Now, we had to take 2 instead of 1. CSM was having it good and with the support of OC too!

When we were charged by the OC to take 2, it was about 4.30pm. If I remember correctly, take/handover of BOS and guard duty was around 6pm.

My buddy and I learned lots from our 2 year plus 21 dayz in the army. But we never master the art of lifting testicles and follow insane orders.

After my buddy told me what the CSM said to him, we had a good laugh and planned a mission of our own. At 5pm that Friday evening, we wished the CSM a good weekend and told him that there will be no BOS and Guard Commander that Fri and Sun in Kranji Camp!

We went back to our mud floor Nissan Hut (yes, there were no brick and mortar barracks in those days!) changed into civilian attire, checked out and went AWOL for the next 21 days!

We did wrong, we did right, we didn't care. We did what we had to do. We did had 21 memorable days of music, comradeship, living like gypsies. We rough it out, tough it out. The only regret? We broke our parents' hearts! The did not know wherer we were for 21 days. No, we were not in MIT:)

After 21 wild days, reported back to camp, got f--- again, got charged, stripped off rank, condemned as a private until they ran short of NCO's in the 80's and promoted me to Cpl again during my reservist training!

So what's new after 38 years?

Not happy
Write email to complain
Father & Grandpa got power
No worry of shame

In good old days:
Bway song
How to complain
Lau peh taxi driver
Boh pian, chow peng


Vasya said...


I love your blog. Whenever you start talking about consumer debt and financial service industry, you should consider consumer's point of view. As I was searching the internet for interesting articles on the subject of debt and consumer finance I stumbled on the following great articles:
Cash Call
Americas Servicing Company


Jim Lim said...

I get the impression of a climate of fear in Singapore. A climate where fear is so pervasive and words like "dare", "scared" are used liberally. I salute the SAF for doing the right thing: for treating its soldiers without fear or favour. Come on Singapore, speak up. Don't compare with other countries or be timid. Stand up and be counted like the Hong Kong protesters.

John Barness said...

I think the potential profits come along with new technology and those people or companies who are able to implement it will win the market. For instance, data room providers are known to replace old-fashioned ineffective physical data rooms.