Saturday, November 19, 2005

*Did society get a raw/good deal a.k.a. I desperately need to get back to work*

No hard-core geo-political commentary today, I'm simply enjoying basking in the reflected glow of the Cathod Ray Tube (CRT) of my computer monitor as the electrons hopefully bath me in knowledge that I can absorb throught osmosis (wait that's for water molecules only right?).

I figure that such a superstitution is a lot easier on my stomach than photocopying my notes, burning them into ashes, dissolving the ashes in water and then drinking it.

Anyway, I want to post a little something about that pianist skipping town to evade NS and coming back after 28 years to take care of his elderly parents and only getting a fine thing. But then I figured that whatever I post might come back to haunt me and since I haven't exactly staked out my position on this matter yet, it might be wiser to stay silent on this issue. Especially since I get one or two persons googling me every single day now (thus far they have been private IP addresses but who knows?). Yes, it looks like I'm self-censoring myself on this one.

Having said which, I figure a few general questions and comments wouldn't hurt and might in its little way help you come to your decision.

1. Laws are generally meant to be obeyed, especially when it is properly enacted (i.e. by a legitimate government for legitimate aims and goals) and flouting of the law brings about real active societal detriment. So the question would boil down to how you feel about the law in question and the premise on which it is based on. So how important is NS to you and how do you feel about it?

2. By extension, if a law is important then there should be vigourous and active enforcement of that law, including punishment to the fullest extent possible.

3. However, this can be mitigated by equity. By virtue of its general (and inflexible) nature, the law can be very harsh. Therefore there can be mitigation of either the offence or simply the sentencing itself IF the facts warrant it. So the facts are above, what do you think?

4. Statute of Limitation. Most crimes (or for that matter civil action) if not persued after a certain period of time become time-barred and the fact you littered or assaulted someone 10 years ago becomes a non-issue. However, this does not hold for major crimes particularly murder. The notion being that certain crimes are so henious that the state should prosecute regardless of how long ago it occur (good luck with the evidentiary burden though, which is one of the reasons there is a statute of limitation in the first place). It's been 28 years but once again how important is NS to you and how do you feel about it?

5. Implications, message sent and the law of unintended consequences. Assuming that you decide one way or another, there will be consequences. So say you decide to prosecute or not to the fullest extent, there will inevitably be a segment of society that would think you are either too lenient or too harsh obviously. But what message does it send to others who might wish to return to Singapore? And especially what if they can still contribute to our society? We don't define national security narrowly and we know of the 5 forms of security and how we can all play a part in it. But conversely, what sort of message does it send if like Union draftees in the US Civil War, you could buy your way out for $300 (though the money came in way more useful than the warm body did in the end)?

To finish off with a line from The West Wing that I am particularly fond of from Season 4 episode Game On, "[E]very once in a while, there's a day with an absolute right and an absolute wrong, but those days almost always include body counts. Other than that, there aren't very many unnuanced moments..." So the best that can be asked is that one knows the basis for one's beliefs.



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