Importance of being visible

Was having lunch with my Hokkien-spewing boss. One of the safer topics we would discuss over the meal would be the state of politics. Yes, far safer than our different views of how the company should be run. One of which was the complaint letter by Li Hongyi, son of the current Prime Minister. In brief, his email circulated and leaked to the outside world, telling all of Singapore about the quality of SAF officers, or the lack of quality.

The boss’s take on this issue is that this email attracted this much attention because of the person who wrote it has a very high profile. If it were some unknown officer, perhaps nobody would have paid it any attention. After all it is not a surprising thing that regulars protect their own, anybody who has served national service can tell you that. But you can still get charged for jumping the chain of command. And to have included so many people, entire departments of units who have nothing to do with the incident, is quite spectacular. Should have resulted in spectacular trouble.

My take is that he was supposed to be the third generation monarch of the lion city, but he has offended some very important people. Uncle Teo could have asked his boss, “Why is your son doing this, airing dirty laundry in public? He could have come to me and worked something out.” And now international presses have also reported on this lack of integrity in our army. Was it out of a sense of frustration that such an email was written and sent out? There are better ways to do things, and he of all NSF officers have other avenues to change things. There is a Chinese saying that an empire or a collection of wealth tends to be ruined by the third generation. The first generation builds it up and the second maintains it. The third is used to a good life and lacks the skills and drive to keep the empire from cumbling. I would worry more if this was done out of frustration, and not part of some sinister plot.

We both agreed that his high profile could have been some sort of protection. Unknowns can disappear overnight, but public people can hardly vanish or be destroyed without notice. There is even this guy in America who sends photos to his blog every few hours, telling people that if he stops blogging, it could be that the authorities have taken him away for some crime he did not commit. And it is also a good idea to raise your public profile before going against the big boys. See for example eastcoastlife. The media is a powerful shield to keep you alive, if you ever need protection from being made to disappear.

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