Friday, July 13, 2007

In support of Li Hongyi

Hi Friends,

After reading the complete account about Li Hongyi’s email (thanks to, I must say that I am in support of Li’s actions.

If we ignore the fact that he is PM’s son, what he had done was very idealistic though it may not be in line with established MINDEF procedure. About Mindef procedures... have we forgotten nebulous SAF laws such as “… conduct unbecoming of a SAF personnel.. etc” .

Anyone from a general to the recruit can be charged for having "conduct unbecoming of SAF... " and how many men had been thrown into the guard room on those charges? Uncountable! and no one can even tell us what "unbecoming conduct" actually meant ! How convenient.

(Dr.Huang (14.7.07 8pm)- I just remember the convenient catch-all law that the SAF uses to charge servicemen when more specific charges are not available. It is "conduct prejudicial to the SAF.. blah blah blah" Anyway, you get the idea.)

My personal opinion is that as we are already short of idealism, one more idealist is better than one less. ( Call me naïve or any other name you want).

I know I have my work cut out for me and will spend the next few days taking my foot out of my mouth as I get flames from fellow netizens, ... but that’s life.

Oh yes, I also sent another Dear Editor letter to the forum pages.


Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

Letter to the editors of ST & Today

July 13, 2007

Dear Editor,

Re: About 2Lt Li’s whistle blowing

I disagree with Mindef’s reprimanding 2Lt Li Hongyi.

Li brought the matter of a derelict fellow officer up through the proper channels but was met with typical bureaucratic red tape and inaction.

Instead of tossing his hands up in defeat and become cynical like most, Li did what only an idealistic person would do. He doggedly pursued the matter further and now suffers the consequences for this.

I know a reprimand sounds like a tap on the knuckle but it is an official black mark nonetheless.

This official reprimand sends an erroneous signal to the citizens that if even the PM’s son cannot beat the system, it would be folly for lesser mortals to try.

It is only idealists who dare challenge age-old traditions and who will most likely be the ones to slaughter the venerated sacred cows.

This reminds me of a similar incident in my old reservist unit.

A fellow officer bypassed the proper channels and wrote a letter of complaint directly to the Defence Minister. As expected, the matter was looked into and resolved expeditiously, but not before many feathers were ruffled and boats rocked.

That whistle blower was unexpectedly and summarily promoted to the next higher rank and he is still the only instance in the Army Medical Corp’s recent history in which an officer had been promoted without attending an advanced officers’ course (a sort of battlefield promotion)!

2Lt Li deserves no less and not because he is the PM’s son, but because he did the right thing!

If there are more idealistic young people like Li, there is hope yet!

Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan


Anonymous said...

World class boot licker.

Gerald said...

Anon @ 9.30pm - I think you are world class idiot. If you disagree with the post, say what you disagree with. Don't just sling insults.

Dr Huang - I disagree with you. :) No really. I think sending an email complaint to every mother's son in MINDEF was brash and uncalled for. He deserves his charge. But I do agree that he deserves kudos for doggedly pursuing the matter despite his OC's inaction. But there are still proper channels which he did not exhaust.

nofearSingapore said...

Gerald: Thank you for agreeing to disagree in a gentlemanly manner.

IMHO, in the balance of it, his contravention ( spelling?) of some Mindef statute is overshadowed by the fact that he allowed his youthful idealism to do what he did.

There are only a few explanations for what he did:
2.idealism + brashness
3.idealism + other theories that are already out here in the blogosphere.

Whatever else there is, there is idealism.

Even if he did not cc to every mother & son in the SAF, and only leapfrogged his immediate commanders to the Minister Def, they could have charged him for not following proper procedure.


Anonymous said...

"There are only a few explanations for what he did:
2.idealism + brashness
3.idealism + other theories that are already out here in the blogosphere."

Yeah sure, but what happened to the other soldier? You know the one that we all forgot abt?

Didnt he have any

2.idealism + brashness
3.idealism + other theories that are already out here in the blogosphere

We shall never know.

Welcome to singapore where a coin only has one side. We are dam unique la

nofearSingapore said...

Hi anon 9.39:
You mean the LTA that got court-marshalled or the Cpl?
The LTA got what he deserved and the CPL got more than he deserved.
What I know is what I read from the email account from
I don't know anything more and my opinion is just based on that.
Ya, he overstepped some boundary/and caused a lot of brass to panic, but so what? SAF needs some stirring from their complacency once in a while.
Officers AWOL to do private stuff outside and being treated as if it is acceptable is not acceptable.
Or should we accept that SAF & NS is just a waste of money and time ( as most netizens think)?

Have great weekend.


shoestring said...

If I were in Li Hong Yi's position, I could have done the same thing. Of so, I would also have prepared myself for the consequences of violating the chain of command and to accept the punishment.

That's the price of idealism. In fact, there will be less "punch" if we are willing to act on our convictions only when there are no negative repercussions.

Weird logic, I guess.

Anonymous said...

Two supervising officers were issued letters of warning for administering inappropriate punishment.

Think about that.

This means at least two senior officers were aware of the problem and had decided to ignore 2LT Li Hongyi's complaint.

If 2LT Li had followed the "proper channel", what makes you think the 3rd senior officer up the chain of command will do anything?

MINDEF needs to clarify what it means by "proper channels".

Will Li Hongyi be charged if he merely sent his letters to everyone directly above him (ie, Defense Minister, CDF, CoA, Chief Signal Officer, etc)?

The problem with that approach is that all these senior guys may still decide to ignore his complaint. What can he do then? In my opinion, his letter to everyone (including the unit storemen, cook, etc) directly causes the AWOL LTA to be court-martialed.

Cos the SAF leaders are now aware that justice must be seen to be done. Otherwise, they cannot no longer maintain effective discipline among the men.

Anonymous said...

When 2Lt Li made his first complaint, he did not see any action(to his complaint) for two months in which time he will be leaving for further study. I surmise that the Superior(s) he complained to did indeed treat 2Lt Li equal(fair) to other NS Conscripts despite he being the Son of the PM(kudos to the superior officers). Seeing no result to his complaint, 2Lt Li made sure that his complaint will not get a non-reply, quite usual and common if we go by the blogosphere. He made sure maximun attention could be attracted with a revolutionary method that resulted in contravening military code(s). I am of the opinion that he was not picking on the Officer that AWOL but rather whole lots of irregularities and discrepancies that he had experienced during his stint doing NS. As one who finds 'chain of command' and 'proper channel reporting' at odd with reasonableness and democracy, I fully agree with the Chinese Saying that '(Fine) gentleman does no soldiering'. 2Lt Li however is a conscript, I do not know if he loves(likes)NS; regards scb.

Ned Stark said...

Dr Huang,
Just a question, when did u send the letter in?

nofearSingapore said...

Hi shoestring,anon(s) and Ned:
Thanks for your comments.
Keep them coming.
Ned: I sent the letters on the day the story broke in the ST . I think that is Friday evening.
One of the MSM already indicated they may print a slightly edited version.
Let's just wait and see.


raytham said...

Was he really courageous or did he just do something that he knew he would get away with being the PM's son? That is something for readers of this blog to consider.

I recall misuse of email in this manner would easily get another officer in my time at least 14 extras, if not heavier charges.

cynic said...

Call me cynical, but this saga might just be yet another load of wayang to launch 3rd generation Lee to Singaporeans. No need to cheer or jeer his actions.

If young Lee is really so interested in ensuring good leadership for Singaporeans, he might want to ask his mummy in whose leadership did Shincorp fiasco occur.

Air Froce guy CHY said...

i disagree with what you have said. you sought to lay the blame on the Defence Ministry when what it did was merely to neccessarily reprimand the officer. There are always channels to address his grievances. Li is a platoon commander, and his immediate superior is an officer commanding, who is accountable to many other senior officers. He could have brought the matter up to the company level, battalion or regimental level, or if all else fails, the divisional level. He emailed this letter to generals, the Defence Minsiter, and still has the temerity and insolence to email his letter to all those not under his dorect charge or dealings with this matter.What is Li trying to achieve through emailing the message to thers? what if his actions have interfered with investigations into the officer who AWOLed?Staff confidentiality has been compromised, and he has blatantly disragrded a General Order From the Defence Ministry. SAF, as Li says, is not a "charitable orgnisation"-it owes no one a living. It must be uncompromising in standards. HOw then could we fight and win a war if we bypass the chain of command and take matters into our own hands? Moreover, a reprimand is not a black stain as you have claimed and so unknowingly contradicted. If the medical officer mentioned in yuor essay did indeed bypass the chain of command and in doing so stained his military record-there is No way he could have been promoted-what moreif he has not even gone for advanced officer training? The consequences of Li's actions are indeed very serious and is not a matter about "ruffling a few feathers" and I believe that Li's punishment is already very light-he was merely reprimanded. What would you expect? Let him off scot free? Impossible! Treatment must be fair and consistent. I am not saying that there shouldn't be any whistle blowers. It is neccessary to ensure accountability and transparency-not to mention keep people constantly on their toes. But do know there are always ways of complaining to higher levels of command. A Captain is the immediate superior of the Lieutanant who is guilty of AWOL. Have we forgotten there that are MAJORS, Lieutanant Colonels, Colonels who he could have reported the matters to? Hwat does he expect the Defence Minister to do? Micromanage and charge the Lieutanant when someone else more senior could have done the job? Li is an officer who should be well-versed in General Orders. By-passing the chain of command has been emphasised as a big NO-No, even during my stint in BMT. He is not only guilty of emailing his letter to others not involved and fuelling the gossip that has no bearing in helping resolve the matters. He is guilty of failing to comply with the requirement to obey orders and NEVER bypass the chain of command.

Air force guy chy said...

yuo know that Li was only found huilty of one charge-ie circulating the email to toehrs and therefore compromising staff confidentiality? he is guilty of two-the one mentioned earlier and of course by-passing the chain of command

Anonymous said...

Doc, I am sure your letter will be promptly published by the bootlicking press.

All you have read so far is just one side of the story. LHY used big words and ideas to support his email. I am surprised people buy into what he said so easily.

The only reason the email made its round and gained prominence is because of the complainant's background. Pure and simple. Anyone else it would have been buried and god knows what happen to the complainant. Your naivety surprises me. Don't forget they are the Special Family and will always be afforded special treatment.

idiot said...

2LT Li should have known better than to change DO duty with LTA X.He knows the martial law so well, yet it slipped his mind that DO's are not allowed to perform duty as DO for more than 24hrs, ie 1 day. So how issit possible for him to perform duty for both sat n sun? thats the reason why they alternate? By changing the duty that way? Is he not violating a order by GS? Also, who did he seek approval to happy happy swap duty...all must be submitted to the RSM. Dun we all know that? I agree that he is being thoughtful for swapping duty? Perhaps cos he wanna siam sat duty? Who knows?

nofearSingapore said...

Hi all:
raytham: I don't read minds and don't know Li Hongyi motives other than what was stated in his email. I am naive and just assume he does not have ulterior motives.
Perhaps if Li or someone close to Li can enlighten us about his motivations.
cynics and other cynical bloggers:Yes I expect many to have some conspiracy theories that this is a kind of "coming out" debut for the 3rd gen Lee etc. I think there are other ways of introducing Li into the public domain. (Just my opinion)
air force guy CHY: about the Medical Offr- truth is stranger than fiction. About SAF laws and which one Li contravened... I am sure Li contravened some but there are so many and I am sure if one just stood still and NOT DO ANYTHING, one can be charged ( I am just trying to be a smart-alec)
anon 11.55:Yes I just make assumptions that he had pure motives. If anyone has evidence that he had impure motives, we should hear it. Also don't be surprised by my naivete. Special Family also human ( altho many claim otherwise)
idiot: I don't know if Li tried to siam sat duty ( maybe got hot date)


Anonymous said...

Dear Dr Huang,
I read yr blog sharings often.
I put my 1st comments in one of yr posts when I shared that I too will stand up, initiate effort that's selfless, helpful & even courageous.
U applauded n shared my "non-typical Sengkapolian" attitude/ behaviours.
I also further commented that when it comes to politics in Sengkapoh, I'll be more realistic than to lament abt such in blogosphere. This is sadly, where we may part, dear dr.

Then, U unleashed idealism in this LHY saga. Yr idealism. Yet again.

Let me sound like a broken record: thru the years as we live, work & grow here, some of us learnt to be more discreet, to be shrewd, to mellow n be more tempered in how we see things n who/what we deal with in life.

As U said, U choose to see pure motives in Hy's action, U see "idealism".

May we not see but one side of the coin.

I see NOT "idealism".
I see brashness, immaturity even. B'cos of youthfulness? B'cos of his privileged background? B'cos of his personal attitude?

It remains: NOT idealism, my dear dr. Brashness, immaturity.

Sengkapolians Not Stupid. :)

nofearSingapore said...

Hi anon (Sengkapolians):
Thank you for reading my sharings and for your useful comments.
I understand why you feel that Li was brash and immature and I am sure he knows that he is the PM's son when he shot that email off.
That does not mean he was not idealistic.
Gerald (Sgpatriot) made the point somewhere that if Li did not cc to every mother & son, the result might have been different and SAF would probably hushed the whole thing.
His apparent "brashness" & "immaturity" has served its purpose in making the SAF correct some wrong in Li's unit. ( I am not conceding that Li is brash or immature cos I really don't know him from Adam except from his email).
I hope we can agree to disagree.

Anonymous said...

Sure, we can always agree to disagree, Dr Huang. :)

In my nsf days, my platoon sgt voiced his dissatisfaction with our LTA officer, n asked for men-level support so we can collectively seek our CPT (captain) officer for help.
I stood out, then a few fellow nsf men followed.
It was a proper chain of command we engaged.

But as all Sengkapolian guys who've been n seen thru their ns life will know, our complaints were heard but what came out of it?
The LTA officer was verbally reprimanded (we believe). He was wrong. We knew thus we complained. He was apparently taken to task somehow.
Subsequently these young idiots who stood out n up against him received & felt heat from him.
I got my share - raw & real.

I wasn't idealistic.
• I was stupid.
• I was naive.
• I was young. & very green.
• I was exacting frustration against this LTA officer.
• I was standing along my sgt & men.

Idealist? I was an idiot. Period. ;P

U stated early in yr posting that
"My personal opinion is that as we are already short of idealism, one more idealist is better than one less."

Also, U stated that
"Yes I just make assumptions that he had pure motives."

Based on these 2 perspectives, I really DO NOT perceive hy to be "idealistic" as much as I see him to be brash, raw, immature.

Ok lor, if anyone must still see those traits & behaviour as somehow "idealistic", then it must be said that this type of idealism
* has no place in a leader.
* has no place in an environment as the military.

Sengkapolians Not Stupid. Even Thru NS. :)

Anonymous said...

If I am not wrong, AWOL is a straight DB with handcuffs. I have seen enough people go in for that. Some book in 2 hours late also got AWOL charge and go DB.

I have also seen people go in DB for insubordination, those small type like arguing back.

Those times, Singaporeans behave like prisoners in camps with no knowledge of their rights.

SAF got full of unclear rules that can be interpreted as the CO like. If there is consistent justice, LTA X should be on the way to DB and so too the OC and those involved for helping a AWOLer.

It seems the media never learn their lesson and is at overdrive again making Lee Hongyi look like a hero. The criticisms printed are so mild. Plenty of damage control. It seems they rather sacrifice SAF’s reputation than Lee Hongyi’s reputation.

My analysis is he is no hero or zero. All he did was a rash act that opened a 40 years old can of worms in SAF. Anyone could have done what he did, only that what will be the consequences.

Anybody else might be considered as mad and go to IMH for mass emailing so many people over some personal differences and displeasure with a bunch of colleagues and superiors.

The incident had highlight some points.

White Horse mentality and practice is still very much prevalent in SAF despite what MP Cedric Foo clarified in Parliament years ago.

Rules alone is not enough to change this fact. Age old traditions and culture must take a beating to change this fact.

When applying discipline and rules, prejudice and biaseness is still very much prevalent in SAF which led to many batches of NS men being more cynical than ever after leaving NS as compare before joining NS.

Rules and discipline when applied unfairly and inconsistently can only cause SAF to self destruct in any situation.

Hopefully during war time, the enemies can differentiate between who is white horse and who is not so that white horse can continue to enjoy different

Anyway, welcome to the real world Lee Hongyi, I guess he must be sheltered too long thus was unprepared and shock for what he experienced in this incident which many Singaporeans had gone through without much difference

2LT Lee did not mean to whistleblow as he sent an internal email.

The person who whistleblowed was the first person who copied and posted the email on the Net knowing the outcome could go both ways at his own risk.

This person is the real hero.

You seem to agree it is fine for 2LT Lee to get away lightly with what he did just because of his status. So you agree it is fine to have double standards when implementing discipline and rules in SAF.

Then what is the difference between LTA X and 2LT Lee ??

Not just officers suffer injustice and complain privately in SAF, all NSFs of all ranks suffer injustice and complain privately in SAF.

All these could just be a show to introduce the future PM.

Anonymous said...

I think we can simplify the whole issue.

This is just conflicts among colleagues and maybe his superiors felt it was a normal case and use the "traditional" SAF method to deal with it.

2LT Lee was not happy with the result and felt not enough blood was drawn and thus did what he did base on his own abnormal status as PM's son.

I am not sure, but LTA X and 2LT Lee are similiar in some sense that both had light punishment for their offences.

Anonymous said...

Idealism also must see who is your master and your backing. That is Uniquely Singapore Idealism for you.

Looks like Singapore government is indeed behaving like Ancient Chinese dynasties.

Peasants cannot be idealistic, only elites can.

Exodus said...

To anonymous at 11:08 AM:

Guess we are already on the journey. Just take a look at the recent proposed changes to constitution.