Mindef right to clear the air over deferment

I am sure many servicemen, like me, felt nothing but empathy when they first read Mr Mervyn Chan Ping's lament that he lost his job because he was not granted an exit permit by the Ministry of Defence (Unsuccessful reservist deferment costs NSman a job; March 7).

But Mindef's reply, saying that Mr Chan had unresolved disciplinary offences and had abused his exit permit before, painted an entirely different picture (Past history of NSman taken into consideration in deferment requests; March 10).

It filled me with indignation at Mr Chan's behaviour, which borders on disloyalty.

There are pertinent lessons to learn from this seemingly routine exchange between a citizen and government agency over red tape.

First, fake news is not the only worry in today's world - misrepresentation and half-truths are equally harmful.

Second, he who accuses must be prepared to have his false accusations thrown back at him.

Third, while a government agency should be respectful and patient, to preserve a complainant's dignity, it should not shy away from being robust and exposing half-truths. Mindef achieved this in a professional manner.

However, I wonder why the disciplinary offence was allowed to remain unresolved.

Moreover, if Mr Chan had abused his exit permit, shouldn't he be hauled up for committing a legal offence?

Sunny Goh (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 15, 2017, with the headline 'Mindef right to clear the air over deferment'. Print Edition | Subscribe