During the run-up to the 2006 General Elections, Mediacorp aired a special 50 minute-long forum on Channel NewsAsia entitled “Why My Vote Matters.” It featured a dialogue session between then Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew and a selected panel of young voters, mass communication practitioners from the media industry born after 1965.

At around 11:40 minutes into the program, Lee asks the youngsters point-blank, “…. and you are afraid that if you vote against the PAP and something will happen to you?”

To which came the quick response, “This is the impression the PAP has created.”

Suffice it to say, there’s enough anecdotal evidence to suggest it’s more than an impression now. First there was this trainman who lost his job because he was not supposed to board a coach using a certain entrance way. Now a health worker has been sacked for alleged defamation when the court case has yet to be convened.

The employer, Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH), phrased the details for what happened thus:

“Mr Ngerng’s conduct was incompatible with the values and standards we expect of our employees. While our staff are free to pursue their personal interests outside work, they must conduct themselves properly, honourably and with integrity.”

“In particular, they cannot defame someone else without basis, which essentially means knowingly stating a falsehood to the public.”

The Ministry of Health (MOH) – those folks who are foisting Medishield Life on us – was quick to oblige with a twist of the dagger:

“MOH would like to reiterate that it supports TTSH’s decision as Mr Ngerng’s actions show a lack of integrity and are incompatible with values and standards of behavior expected of hospital employees.”

In the case of the lusty professor at the law faculty of our national university, the academic’s employ, and his pay cheque, were terminated only after the court convicted him. Conspiracy theories about his political predilections notwithstanding, the message for our young ones seem to be that sexual misdemeanors are less serious than politically incorrect opinions. And in the case of the Brompton Bikes, in which the prosecutor maintained there was strong public interest in ensuring the integrity of the process through which public funds are spent, a $5,000 fine was considered appropriate atonement. This has to be a confusing time for the younger generation.


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