Law and Foreign Affairs Minister, K Shanmugam, posted 2 notes on his Facebook page about Mr Cheng Teck Hock, the taxi driver who was killed in what is now called “the ferrari incident”. Shanmugam had paid a visit to the family at Mr Cheng’s wake.
I re-posted the minister’s note on my own Facebook page.
Soon after, some (comments online) said the minister’s action is a “wayang” and asked why it is being touted as an act of compassion. Government policies were soon added to the mix and Shanmugam’s action roundly criticised for not dealing with the actual causes of the death – which, some say, is the Govt’s immigration policy. The ferrari driver, who had smashed his car into Mr Cheng’s taxi, was a Chinese national.
While I understand the feelings – strong feelings – against the Govt’s immigration policy, and I have written quite a few articles on various platforms against it as well, I do not feel that criticising Shanmugam’s action in this case is a rational thing to do.
The minister is doing what we have always said the Government ministers should be doing – be more compassionate and to show it. (Read this post on this forum.)
Yet when they do, we say they are playing politics, perhaps trying to win sympathy votes (especially now that the Hougang by-election is in full swing).
For me, I’d just like to take Shanmugam’s action at face value, and appreciate the fact that a minister has not only paid the grieving family a visit – which is perhaps some comfort to the family – but he has also pledged to helping Mr Cheng’s family, especially his children.
Yes, the accusations of politicking will continue. It is the same accusations levelled at Low Thia Khiang, when it was made known that he attends wakes in his constituency regularly. Only those who know Mr Low would know that Mr Low does it because he feels it is the right thing to do. You’re MP not only when your constituents are alive but also when they have passed on and their family needs comfort and help.
But mostly, and you can call me naive, but I think sometimes taking things at face value allows us to appreciate ourselves and fellow human beings as human beings.
And in all that criticism against Shanmugam, there seems to something lost – the little mention of Mr Cheng and his family. It is rather unfortunate that, perhaps inadvertently, in criticising a seemingly decent act of compassion, we have turned Mr Cheng’s untimely death into a spectacle used to vent our anger on the Government.
There is a time for criticising the Government. This time, however, is not it.
I do not, and never have, believed that all PAP members are bad. And I am not the only one, including its critics, to think so.
I would prefer to appreciate Shanmugam’s action for what it is, on face value, just as I appreciate Low Thia Khiang’s action.