From Zaobao’s interview with Dr Janil Puthucheary, PAP candidate for GE 2011
Why don’t you volunteer for NS?
“If DPM Teo Chee Hean tells me to bring a rifle and run up a hill, I’m fully prepared and happy to do so; I may not have done National Service, but I had been doing public service for the past 10 years. Not just me, but everyone in restructured hospitals is providing a service to the public.
During the 2003 SARS outbreak, I volunteered to set up the child ward in Tan Tock Seng Hospital. I fell sick because of that, was hospitalized and put under home quarantine. As soon as I recovered, I went back in. The nurses here, they may not carry guns or do national service, but they are no less brave. Do you know how dangerous it is to step into a ward, not knowing what germs or viruses is there? Yet they do it, everyday.”
Sadly, Dr Janil completely missed the question, and the reporter just let him off.
The reporter should have pointed out that NS is not about public service. Did you ever hear your brothers or boyfriends say they did public service?
NS is not about carrying guns or going into danger either. At least, it’s not that unless we or our neighbouring countries do something stupid.
NS is about OBLIGATION.
The dissatisfaction is not that Dr Janil didn’t have to carry a rifle or run up a hill, but that he doesn’t have to lose at least two of the prime years of his life, join the workforce two years later, and that he doesn’t have to wear the reservist obligation for another 15 or 20 years. And beyond the obligation and the lost youth is a sense of unfairness, that NSmen have to bear the burden while new citizens do not; and that they are unfairly disadvantaged at work due to their reservist obligations.
Get it right!
When people complain about Dr Janil (and other new PAP candidates) not serving NS, they’re not complaining about his lack of public service, or his lack of bravery.
They’re complaining about their obligation vs his lack of obligation.
That’s what he should have addressed. That’s what the reporter should have brought to his attention.
I hope the above shows how totally off-track Dr Janil was. The issue is not about his sense of public service or his bravery against SARS.
If a politician cannot understand what people’s concerns are, how can he represent voters’ concerns in parliament well?
To me, Dr Janil didn’t answer critics’ concerns at all. Instead, he used his answers to blow his own horn about how public spirited and brave he is.
But every politician standing for election (at least from the “opp” side) is more than willing to serve. Every fireman/policeman/etc is willing to put his life in danger.
That’s not the reason why we elect politicans.
We elect politicians to make sure they represent our concerns to the govt, and we trust them to shoot down Bills that do not address our concerns and are not in our interest.
By the above yardstick, I would not vote for Dr Janil no matter how brave he is in combating SARS.
Because when the time comes, he’s not going to understand what my concerns are and he’s not going to vote against any Bills that aren’t in my interest, because he doesn’t even understand or acknowledge my concerns.
I can’t trust him to represent me in Parliament, simple as that.
In a way, Dr Janil’s inability to understand is symptomatic of the PAP as a whole.
People have been crying out loud for more than 10 years about the cost of living, yet the PAP has not really absorbed the message.
Else how can you explain the ridiculous increases in property prices, food prices, utilities, transport costs, rentals, school fees, etc?
So the new batch of PAP candidates have no more connection with the ground than the old.
The conclusion is simple– don’t vote for them.