Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The furore over draft dodging since Melvyn Tan's slap on the wrist, and the subsequent proposal to stiffen laws and penalties shows once again that we would rather do the right thing to avoid punishment than do the right thing because it IS the right thing to do.

Seems that when Melvyn 'got away' with 'only' a $3000 fine for all the years he didn't serve his National Service, those of us who did our time became all indignant and upset that his sentence was so light. What? If we had known that dodging NS would only cost us $3k we would have gladly paid up and thumbed our noses at Uncle Seng? As if.

I'm not trying to defend Melvyn for what he did, nor decry the non-consequences of his naughtiness. What I'm worried about is the fact that NS men appear to feel more strongly against the lightness of one defaulter's punishment than for the value of their own contribution of service to the place they call 'home.'

If the sentiment is truly such, then the main reason behind our serving NS is the fear of being severely punished if we don't. This attitude suggests that when we consider NS, we see an option -- either serve, or be punished. Most of us choose the former to avoid the unpleasantness of the latter; nevertheless, the latter may still appear to some of us as a viable choice. But if we think there is a choice in the matter, we are dead wrong because there is really no option: either serve, or the consequences will be far more severe than what the courts can throw at us.

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