Tuesday, January 20, 2009

He Deserves the Rap

How can a top civil servant, a permanent secretary to be precise, be so annoying?

In the light of poor economic times, the mantra of the day is save, save and save. 

Yet, we have a government official who decided that he should scoot off to Paris on a family getaway. Not for five days but for five weeks. Five weeks is an eternity for the unemployed waiting for a government handout. Five weeks is also how long the average Singaporean takes to earn a paltry $1600. 

But five weeks is all Mr Tan Yong Soon needs to blow $46,500. A cooking course at the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu for his family of three, at $15,500 per head. You don't need to be a mathematician to understand how such astronomical figures can keep dozens of people well fed for weeks. 

Certainly, the elites and rich in Singapore have their right to spend. But to inscribe this extravagance into text and to cast in stone the evidence of your lavish spending is outright snobbery.

Don't forget that if you take a salary from the taxes paid by common folk, you bear a sense of accountability to them. You have to be grateful. Your fortunes, no matter if you think otherwise, have to somehow intertwine with theirs.

To take $46,500 of their hard earn cash and splurge it on a high end restaurant does not just shock. You sinned as well. There will still be an outrage even if the times are good. 

Today Mr Teo Chee Hean, ever the noble one, has came forward and pronounce this reckless expenditure by his subordinate both "ill-judged" and showing a "lack of sensitivity". Indeed, these words strikes a cord with the general sentiment of the populace. 

In spending this ridiculous amount, Mr Tan has lost touch with the ground. He has made a mockery of the very people who have made him this rich in the first place.

These are not good times for Singaporeans. These people are facing the pink slip, facing the harsh realities of life and having difficulties putting food on the table. 

Mr Tan can argue that this was just a well deserve break and he was just spending the wealth which he has accumulated over the years. 

But as a blogger put it, Mr Tan must have joined "the Civil Service out of a genuine wish to serve the common folks on the street and not just solely for the sake of lining his pockets with cash."

This genuine wish must not be clouded by the obscene wealth he has garnered throughout the years.  

If Mr Tan chooses to remain blinkered towards this goal, he could well see his career hitting a new time low. 

By then, this rap in the knuckle by Mr Teo Chee Hean may not seem so bad after all.   

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