Category: Current Affairs
Published on Friday, 18 March 2016 03:39
Written by Shawn Danker
I was at Hong Lim Park on the 13th of March to observe what was supposed to be a quiet event. Gilbert Goh had organized a vigil called Protect Our Youths as a demonstration of civil society's displeasure about the circumstances surrounding the deaths of Benjamin Lim
and Dominique Lee
One would think that online anger over the two separate matters would be reason enough for people to turn out as a statement to the G. Alas only 50 or so people, who also happen to be Gilbert's most ardent supporters, showed up. Some of the attendees blamed the poor turn out on the day's rainy weather.
However, one astute attendee who declined to be named, said that the low turnout was more likely because "no one sensible wants to be affiliated with Gilbert Goh."
It's not hard to see why people wouldn't turn out given Gilbert's penchant for faux pas. I tried asking Gilbert why he wasn't wearing one of the black armbands he was asking attendees to wear in solidarity with the mourning families and he got evasive. I asked Gilbert if he had contacted the families of Dominique Lee and Benjamin Lim to invite them to the vigil. He said "yes, we've been contact with them..." before letting his answer trail off as he moved around the crowd.
The so called vigil left a sour taste in my mouth. Some speakers tried to use the tragedies of Benjamin Lim and Dominique Lee to push their own agendas by painting some equivalencies to their own personal setbacks. I'm sorry but the "unfairness" of your protégé getting prosecuted for being a public nuisance after heckling special needs kids is not on par with the grief of a family mourning their son's untimely death.
I left the vigil with an ache in my heart as the miasma of helplessness that was prevalent that evening at Hong Lim Park begun to wash over me.
A talk about Dominique Lee
I reached out to a friend to talk. We opted to postpone our discussion over Benjamin's death because we wanted to wait for the coroner's inquiry to be done. So we turned our discussion to Dominique Lee's death in the name of national service.
We were sad but we could not help but feel that Dominique's death was a freak accident that no one could have foreseen. That was why the AGC couldn't file any charges against the two captains involved based off the coroner's report. The coroner couldn't conclusively determine the cause of Dominique's death.
But despite this my friend and I felt that the SAF/Mindef could have handled the matter better. We felt that the SAF should have at least disclosed the outcome of the two captains' court martial. That would at least prove to the public that the SAF wasn't trying protect their own officers by closing ranks.
But we also felt that Dominique's mother demanding that the SAF pay for her son's headstone was wrong. Someone at Gilbert's vigil tried to capitalize on this and said that Dominique should've been buried with full honours since he died serving his country.
"Dominique's mother isn't the first mother to lose a son to NS. As much as it sucks, soldiers die all the time for all sorts of reasons. I think she should instead champion for transparency over NS deaths and cover ups. Then the outcry she's raising over her son's death wouldn't look like a personal matter. Right now she is raging for her own heart and no one else. Everyone has a family. No one wants to die for stupid reasons." said my friend as we had our own not Majulah moment.