It had been just weeks ago that student Benjamin Lim committed suicide just hours after he was released from police interrogation for an alleged offence of molesting an eleven years old girl.
Today, in TOC:
“SCDF recruit commits suicide at training insitute, shortly after enlistment”
Rec Edwin Ong had left the following lengthy note of his intention in his facebook:
I grieved inside as I read Edwin Ong’s fb note reproduced above. I could feel some of his utter desperation and distress, but yet the poor guy must have been making a supreme effort to suppress the overwhelming throes and anguish he must be going through, often blaming and castigating himself for all his woes and difficulties and seemingly trying to make light of the very grave act he was contemplating and about to commit.
“ Ya I’m curious where I’m going to end up after death. Hell maybe ? but anyway…”
I can only imagine what could have been racing through his mind as he composed the note.
All is not well!
Something must be very wrong somewhere in our society. Can we, government and society, carry on as though business is as usual in the wake of the deaths of these two youngsters, just weeks apart? Have Singapore become such a cold hard place that some of our young people actually saw their plights as hopeless, and preferred death as the ultimate release and relief from the pains they must have felt about their cold, hard, earthly existence on this little hard, red dot?
What both youngsters had in common was not just that both had chosen to end their own lives, but significantly to me, that they had both resorted to the ultimate solution as the only way out of their blighted existence RIGHT AFTER their respective fatal and seemingly ‘TOXIC’ encounters with government employees seemingly vested with apparent absolute power and authority over them.
Why was Edwin Ong, with the mental state he was in, considered fit for NS? It is hard to believe that he could have passed whatever vetting and proper psychological assessment, that should have been conducted, prior to his enlistment. However, is it too surprising when you consider the death of the asthmatic NSman who died after an overzealous junior commander mindlessly threw more than the allowed number of smoke (?) grenades into the confined space the former was penned in. Then there was the death of Dinesh who died after being manhandled, overpowered and punished by Changi prison guards, for allegedly being impertinent and defiant. Then there was Amos Yee; he should consider himself ‘lucky’ for still being alive and kicking given the official strictures and sanctioned punishment meted out to him for apparently hurting the sensitivities of the Christian community. Indeed, are we surprised at all, with a terrible track record like that?
Would it be too much asking the government to examine the manner and way that members of its uniformed services are taught and trained to handle and discharge their duties, in particular towards the young and vulnerable entrusted into their hands, in the course of their duties? I have made a similar point in my previous post on Benjamin Lim.
What if any control, restraint or measures are in place to keep in check possible abuse of power and excesses or an overzealous member from overstepping his authority? Officers holding such appointment are often selected based on certain traits deemed important to their effective performance on the job. But, is there a red line that they cannot cross under any circumstance, whatever the provocation or ‘stimulant’, and who is there effectively responsible in a given context to constantly ensure that it is not crossed in the heat of the moment by them? We now know that in Dinesh’s death, the supervisor of the prison guards was himself remiss in his performance and duty. Now, so, who is going to supervise the supervisor?