Cow Beh Cow Bu

With Two Still Missing, Where Are Our Leaders in This Kinabalu Tragedy?

RONALD LEE: We’ve seen much outpouring of grief over the weekend, and in yesterday’s Remembrance Day for the victims of the Mount Kinabalu earthquake.

The relevant ministries must be given due praise for their coordination in disseminating accurate information to the public, and for making sure that survivors and bodies of the victims have been brought back swiftly to Singapore.

Education Minister Heng Swee Keat can be singled out as one minister who has really dug in and made his leadership felt.

He was at the airport to console grieving families, in touch with government agencies in their coordination of the recovery effort, and also provided coolness when emotions were running high.

What irks me about this tragedy is the issue of our missing Singaporeans, and the regard paid to them.

Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister, Muhyiddin Yassin, is at Mount Kinabalu, coordinating the rescue efforts.

In the meantime, the only thing our local ministers do is write condolence notes on social media and visit tribute sites to bow their heads.

To think we have two Deputy Prime Ministers, Tharman Shanmugaratnam and Teo Chee Hean.

And Teo is supposed to be a military man.

None of them are present at the disaster area to represent Singapore’s interest.

We’ve two people Singaporeans still classified as missing, and going to their aid – a Malaysian rescue that has been criticised for its incompetence, and brave mountain guides waning in energy as the days pass.

Only the Ministry of Education (again, to Mr Heng’s credit) is leading a team comprising “counsellors, officials from the Singapore Police Force, Singapore Civil Defence Force and the Transport Ministry to Kota Kinabalu”

So where are our leaders in all this?

Watching the SEA games like PM Lee or DPM Teo?

Even as out Prime Minister remains, surely another leader such as one of the two DPMs can be sent there?

I mean, if the Malaysians can’t make it, why not negotiate for our SCDF troops who are well-trained for exigencies to give the search and rescue operation a shot?

Or even elite units from the Singapore army who have trained in such tough terrain, so they can lend assistance?

In a tragedy like this, politics must make way for humanity, and strong leaders must prove their mettle when lives are at stake.

I fear that after 5 days, it might be too little too late for our fellow Singaporeans.

I am not casting blame, but I expected more from our government besides lip-service.


Thank you Ronald Lee for this commentary.
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