Singapore’s Good Night and Good luck

2LT Li Hong Yi.. This name, once unknown, has now been the buzzword for many a article in Singapore’s blogosphere and is now the talk of the town. 

For those who don’t, it is basically that the white horse, because of LTA X’s MIA( missing from action) from the army, wrote a complaint letter to Uncle Teo, people of high position in the Army and also to everyone in his battalion.

If u wanted to see the infamous email, here it is.

Initially, the rumor that PM Lee’s son had become a whistleblower and wrote a complaint letter to SAfF was discussed a lot in the hardwarezone forums as well as several threads. However it was just that: rumors.

However, when the email was leaked out into the blogosphere, it spread like wildfire and before long, the Straits Times went to request a response from SAF about the incident.This then was the Mindef’s response:

PRIME Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s son, Li Hongyi, who is serving his national service, has been reprimanded by the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) for not following proper procedures in e-mailing a letter of complaint to many other servicemen.

Second Lieutenant Li Hongyi had alleged that another officer from his unit, had been absent without leave or AWOL on two occasions.

In the June 28 email, which was sent to the Defence Minister and senior SAF officers, among others, 2nd Lt Li also stated that he had reported the matter to the officer’s supervisors, but no disciplinary action had been taken.

In a statement on Thursday, Mindef’s director of public affairs, Colonel Benedict Lim said: ‘2nd Lt Li was found to have contravened the General Orders of Mindef 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.’

Col Lim added: ‘He has been formally charged and administered a reprimand after a summary trial.’

A summary trial deals with less serious military offences and is normally presided over by a senior disciplinary officer who may serve with the soldier’s own unit or appointed to oversee the trial from another unit.

Penalties include being warned by the senior disciplinary officer, fortfeiture of days off or shouldering extra duties.

Mindef added that following 2nd Lt Li’s complaint, an investigation was conducted and the officers concerned have been disciplined.

The officer who was found to have been AWOL will be court martialled and two supervising officers have been issued letters of warning for poor judgement in administering inappropriate disciplinary action.

In a court martial, which deals with more serious offences, can result in a range of penalties if they are found guilty of misconduct. These include discharge from service, detention in the SAF Detention Barracks, a reduction in rank, forfeiture of seniority, fines and reprimand.

Mindef issued the statement on Thursday in response to media queries about the internet chatter on Mr Li’s email.

Several sites were abuzz with details of the email and comments on how the authorities would respond.

Col Lim stressed that the SAF takes a serious view of misconduct by any serviceman.

‘To maintain organisational discipline, all SAF servicemen with complaints or grievances should take them up through proper channels for redress, to ensure due process and to protect confidential information.

‘All complaints which are not anonymous are investigated and dealt with properly.’

Mr Li, who is the third of the PM Lee’s four children, has received a Public Service Commission scholarship and will soon be leaving to study economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States.

Reuters has praised bloggers for disclosing the incident and made it out to the public. This incident is one of the many examples of truly the power of the new media in Singapore.

This is the quote from second information minister Vivian Balakrishnan in March this year about the new media.

 “The most potent impact the new media will have on politics is that politicians will find it impossible to lie in the future. The truth will always be out there because somewhere, someone has the facts, or has seen something, and will publish it.”

“Fortunately for us in Singapore, we have run a clean system, and hence have nothing to hide. That is the key reason we do not fear the new media.”

Many of us, especially the guys who has been in army, would call these words as “b*lls**t. The government is Singapore has always loathe to reveal information about themselves as well as their policy. This can be seen in the recent case of the playwright being sacked without reason.

Even the newspapers would not publish such an article without proof of any kind such as to not offend the government as well as to hurt its reputation. However, the new media is reckless enough to go past this stage of decision. Perhaps hiding behind a facade can be good in some ways as people are willing to say stuff, even controversial stuff, in the world of the Internet instead of in the public. This then is the power of the new media i guess.

However, it is not that there is complete freedom in the blogosphere as well as the artcle has been rated as a SAF internal article and hence is restricted and withheld from the public. But for now the bloggers in Singapore should celebrate that one battle has been won in the likes of the now famous Edward R. Murrow in See it now.

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~ by rojakgeekiness on July 19, 2007.

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