"It is... stupid to believe we are infallible. We are not infallible." (MM Lee, as quoted by CNA)
"This should have never have happened. I am sorry that it has," (DPM Wong Kan Seng, as quoted by CNA)
You may be sorry that it has happened, but I don't think you are sorry for what has happened.
"This was a lapse. What to do, it's happened." (PM Lee, as you can hear for yourself on youtube)
Are you resigned to the fact or are you telling people to resign themselves to it?
It has been said that people will never hear the PAP say sorry. That is, of course, untrue. They do say sorry. Perhaps they say sorry without meaning that they are, but they do use the word "sorry". (The word can constitute an apology or it can be an expression of sympathy. Or it can simply mean nothing.)
The PAP does admit to failing, though often only on behalf of those who are not really the PAP. I'm sorry some idiots in the security forces did not follow rules. (No, the last sentence was not a quote. The PAP is never as candid as to use the word "idiot".)
Beneath the PAP's sexy, see-through dress of humility is the aggressive rhetoric of leadership and authority. We can seem to say sorry not because it is our fault, but because we tell you what is wrong. I decide whether to move on because we know what is best for the country.
I can label something a failure either because I'm not part of it or because I've transcended it. It's not my failure. It's everyone's. No, in fact, it's not a failure. It's an inevitability because of fallibility. I define where the failure is. I know best.
PM Lee's "what to do, it's happened" (never to be quoted with a question mark) is a creative paraphrase of something peasants have already become tired of hearing after NKF, after James Gomez: the "let's move on" instead of harping on issues that might discredit the PAP. Perhaps it was not a careless remark at all, but a careful attempt to avoid stale vocabulary. (What to do. They have the power to manipulate and circumscribe public discourse.)
What we end up with is a performance of leadership with the mainstream media as a convenient stage. Everyone is busy catching a terrorist. No, everyone is busy controlling the damage done to the reputation of the Party. What is at stake is not security. It is the Party. I guess we are supposed to be impressed by the sense how how the leadership has the authority--the authority to critique (mainstream media are just echoes, bloggers are just noise), to call a failure a failure, to move on. Perhaps in 2011, we will see Mas Selamat included in the election campaign: look at how well we led Singapore through a difficult time.
But where the Mas Selamat incident is concerned, what authority is there? As I have playfully questioned in the conspiracy theories post, why are people responding as though there was nothing wrong with detaining Mas without trial to begin with? What authority can be derived from dubious processes?
How is Mas Selamat going to be dealt with if he is caught? If Mas Selamat is arrested after I spot and make a police report, will I be getting him detained (and I know not what else) without trial? Won't I then be guilty of perpetrating an act--detention without trial--to which I am opposed even though I do believe that he is involved in terrorist activities? (I'm not telling anyone not to report to the police, mind you. I'm clarifying because I don't want to be considered sedition or get me arrested (by none other than the ISD) for threatening national security.)
There is only so much half apologies, shrewd confessions and a nation-building wayang of leadership can do to mask a lack of true authority, a lack of truly credible leadership not predicated upon achieving economic growth that benefits the rich. Of course, no one is claiming that Mas has never been involved in terror-related activities. But, still, why the ISD? (Let's throw the question back at them.)
Of course, few people really bother about these issues Just get that bastard arrested so that we won't have traffic congestion!
And When Napoleon was outsmarted by the human beings and Animal Farm was attacked, everyone knew that the humans were the aggressors. Squealer told everyone that Animal Farm should celebrate their triumph in chasing away the human beings despite the devastation done to the farm. There was nothing wrong with Napoleon and his schemes.
Was Leader Napoleon, too, not infallible but was always right?