MP's resignation

Not all who err deserve a second chance

Mr Seah Yam Meng ("Everyone deserves a second chance"; Wednesday) seems to portray MP David Ong as a societal victim, who should be forgiven by society for repenting for his "personal indiscretion".

The People's Action Party (PAP) prides itself on its moral high ground ("PAP has standards to uphold: Whip"; Monday), which cannot be compromised. And rightly so, as this is important and necessary for people in political office.

PAP MPs are fully aware of this. They are also aware of the consequences, should they falter, as there are ample precedents. So, repenting as an aftermath, having deviated knowingly, cannot be a mitigating factor.

Similarly, the performance of the MP, even though stellar, is no grounds for mitigation. The central issue is one of morals and the value system.

Even though it is human to err, the nature and severity of mistakes are extremely varied. Hence, they cannot be viewed and dealt with homogeneously.

A mistake is an act or judgment made as a result of a misconception or misunderstanding. When one commits an act by knowingly flouting a rule, policy or law, it is no longer just a mistake.

Although the focus seems to be on the offending couple, we must be cognisant of the collateral damage inflicted on the innocent spouses and children of both families, who have to suffer anguish and embarrassment.

The circumstances of this case are sufficiently serious to render it unpardonable. So any sympathy or call for a second chance is certainly misplaced.

Lawrence Loh Kiah Muan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 19, 2016, with the headline 'Not all who err deserve a second chance'. Print Edition | Subscribe