ICAs Pathetic Excuse

Chee Siok Chin

It was hard enough to believe when the Sunday Times (7 March 2004) reported that Captain Ryan Gohs PR status was revoked. What was even more feeble was the statement the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) made on Mondays Straits Times that the revocation of the pilots (PR) status does not have anything to do with his role in last years ouster of the pilot unions executive committee (8 March 2004).

Of course the ICA claims that it was acting on the Home Affairs Ministers proclamation that pilot Goh was an undesirable immigrant, citing Section 8(3)(k) of the Immigration Act.

Unions are established for the very reason of protecting the rights of workers and in order to do this the unpleasant duty of having to take management to task, especially when it is found wanting, is inevitable. If the members feel that their union leadership does not adequately represent their views and needs then it is up to them to work things out by way of a democratic vote.

Interference from state leaders can only be interpreted as intimidation from the government. Perhaps Mr. Lee Kuan Yew has great stakes in the airline, but so have the hundreds of pilots whose families depend on them to make a living. Nobody is saying that SIA pilots earn paltry salaries. However, when you feel that you have received unfair treatment by the management, no matter what your salary scale may be, it is the members right to speak up especially when the rule books say that are perfectly legitimate to do so.

The revocation of Mr Ryan Gohs PR status demonstrates yet another of the ruling partys imperious ways. The monster has again reared its ugly, haughty head oblivious of the consequences.

Many Singaporeans have reacted to this pilots plight with incredulity. But there is little more that they can or are willing to do except to express their disbelief privately, and perhaps in chatrooms for the pluckier ones.

This is the price we pay when our freedom of expression is quashed. The authorities here are free of accountability. The people are made to believe that we are powerless. Worse, to strive to make the establishment hear us becomes an offence.

Best-selling author Joan Chittister wrote in one of her books Our fear of them (authorities) is a measure of our own moral maturity, or our lack of it. But moral maturity requires us to choose truth over self-preservation, whatever the cost. It faces us with the responsibility to choose new heights of conscience over personal comfort.”

How long, dear friends will you continue to allow this party to use their repressive tactics on Singaporeans?