My take on that JC student


According to those gangsters in the underworld, there are three types of police officers – scholar officers, NS officers and the professional rank and file officers. You have to understand Hokkien to appreciate their colourful descriptive phrases. They call senior police officers as “Tua Kow” or “Big Dog!”

1) “Ta Che Tua Kow” or Scholar Officers. It’s common knowledge that if you join the civil service, the bigger the paper qualification the better your prospects. They are usually graduates or scholars who join as Senior Officers with the starting rank of Inspector or ASP. By virtue of their paper qualification, they are given the rank.

2) “Choi Peng Tua Kow” or NS officers. They are basically senior police officers serving National Service. Most of them come from OCS (Officer Cadets Sch) in the army. They are here to serve 2.5 yrs of their NS liability and they shall ROD or ORD for their university education.

3) “Tan Jiak Tua Kow” or the real professional rank and file senior officers. Usually these officers are in their late 30s or early 40s having spent quite some time honing their police skills. They are tested and have proven their mettle to earn that coveted senior rank. It didn’t come on a silver platter. For lack of paper qualification, they compensated with tons of invaluable ground experiences and police acumen.

I would like to add that there is another group of police officers known as VSC or Voluntary Special Constabulary. It used to be a healthy mix of the various types of police officers in the force. They compliment each other in carrying out their different roles and functions.

I was part of the regular group of professional police officers. Though I was not a senior officer, they used to address me as “Tua Kow”. To them, any plainclothes police officer is either a “Tua Kow” or “Ang Pai” (Detective)

What I’m trying to explain here is that rank is neutral and has no discrimination. Whoever – one of the three or four groups of police officers elaborated earlier, wears that rank, respect must be accorded and compliments must be paid accordingly. Rank has it’s privileges. To illustrate, the law says that an ASP (NS or reservist or whatever) could just walk into any premises and conduct a search (with his subordinates) if he suspects criminal activity without the need to apply from the court for a search warrant. He is a “walking warrant!” so to speak.

For example, if I were to meet a uniform VSC or NS officer with an ASP insignia or “crab” in Hokkien cuz it looks like one, I would have to pay him compliment by saluting him if I were in uniform and would have to address him as “Sir!” when talking to him.

I may not like him or do not think highly of him in terms of real police experience by virtue of his relatively young age, NS or voluntary status etc. but I still need to adhere to protocol by giving him the due honor and respect. Amongst those “lau chiau”, they only respect the rank he is holding and not that person. We pay respect to the rank on his shoulders. This discipline was drilled into our heads by our dedicated field instructors since the first day we started our police career and undergone 6 month live-in Basic Training at Police Academy.

I still remember vividly sometime in the year 1984, our veteran ASP Yeo PT overseeing hundreds of uniform police officers comprising regulars, reservists and volunteers at the carpark of Toa Payoh Police Station in preparation for the GE had to pay compliment to a reservist DSP in uniform.

ASP Yeo PT had to shout a command at those police officers gathered at the carpark to attention. He then marched over to that reservist DSP to pay his compliment by saluting him and asking for his permission to carry on the briefing. After his briefing, ASP Yeo had to ask that DSP if he got anything to add? When the DSP shook his head, ASP Yeo formally sought his permission dismiss the assembled officers at the carpark. A career officer showing deference to the DSP rank of the reservist commissioned officer.

Now I’m not belittling those VSC or NS officers here. In fact they are a great manpower resource especially in times of crowd control during National Day, GE or any special major events etc. Unlike those regulars, they lack real ground experience. Sometimes those regulars have to answer for their actions even though they hold higher ranks.

But usually those NS or VSC officers respect the regulars by seeking their opinion before making any decision such as whether to make an arrest on their patrols. It works both ways. Mutual respect in the key to a better working environment. When those senior NS or VSC officers issue “wrong” or “inappropriate” instructions, we would bring them aside out of public view or other officers’ to advise them accordingly. Usually they listen to us. We tell them it’s a non seizable offence. We don’t want to end up with a case of wrongful arrest etc. They usually follow our advise and act accordingly.

Remember the case about that young American canned for vandalism and the huge outcry it created? I recall ESM Goh in his National Day Rally speech comparing the two different reactions from the parents of that American and incidentally a Hong Konger who abetted in the same offence. The parent of that Hongkie was working as a director in the drama section in TCS (Mediacorp).

The parent of that Hong Kong teenager accepted the verdict and sentence without much fuss or publicity. They felt ashamed of their son’s action. In fact, the parent thought of going back to Hong Kong and resigning from his job. ESM Goh wrote him a letter asking him to stay telling him it’s no fault of his. Whereas, the family of the American teenager convicted of the vandalism offence went on an offensive publicity overdrive. Two different reactions to the same scenario (vandalism) where ESM described in colourful Hokkien as “没家教” (Bo Ka Si), “没大没小” or “No big no small”!

In Malay, it is called “kurang ajar!” which literally means less or little teaching.

I was asked to comment on that JC student’s use of expletives on the DPM. You may disagree or criticize the government. There is nothing wrong in an intelligent and appropriate criticism of public figures or government policy. You may not like him. But to use expletives on a prominent public figure reflects on you, your upbringing, your school etc. That basically sums up my opinion on that JC student.

The points he was trying to say or criticize against the government are lost by his use of expletives. There are bloggers speculating about “conspiracy theory” etc that the student was “forced” to repent and apologize etc. Whatever it is, I’m not going to add to those speculation. I just wish to offer my personal opinion whether it’s alright to use vulgar expletives on our leaders?

Some may say that it’s nothing. It’s so common to use those expletives amongst ourselves. I do agree with that. My uneducated father used to shout Teochew expletives akin to saying ‘good morning’ or ‘good day’ whenever he met his friends. Even till today, we use it amongst ourselves.

But there is a difference between private use amongst friends and in a formal settings towards public figures you don’t know personally. When we talk or comment in the public space, we need to be mindful of our conduct and manners. Decorum and respect for each other should be the norm even though we strongly disagree.

Maybe, I was trained in the uniform organization where discipline is of utmost importance. For without strict discipline, there can be no efficiency in the organization. Maybe if that 17 years old student were to serve his NS later, he would improve and learn to respect the rank irrespective of his liking of that person holding the rank.

Likewise, I may not support this political party. But that doesn’t mean I’m not loyal to this country. If this country is run by this government formed by the political party I do not support, I still have to respect the laws and take instructions from the leaders. I still have to pay compliment to the DPM if I’m wearing the police uniform and greet him. That is what we call protocol where every civilized democratic country adheres to.

I’m surprised that the JC student coming from an established learning institution fails to understand this basic line of protocol. He has since removed his blog and humbly apologised. Could it be due to the “counselling” given to him or otherwise? Let us not speculate further. Let us hope that others will learn from this dramatic episode.

Click here to read related article.

Why the 17 year old blogger should apologise to DPM Teo.

“The opinions expressed here are my own and do not reflect the official policies, practices or opinions of SMRT or any organisation with which I may be affiliated”.


About Gintai_昇泰

I'm a Chinese Singaporean living in the Eastern part of Singapore. I tweet on current affairs & inspirational quotes. I blog on issues or events if they interest me. I write for pleasure. I also write mainly for my family and friends.
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42 Responses to My take on that JC student

  1. KL says:

    For the JC student, whether he was facing a high profile politician or a man in the street, there is always a key word call “respect”. Bear that in mind, the person would know how to moderate his response in a given situation.
    However, this word of “respect” is moving towards a diminishing trend in a supposing civilised society. Perhaps there is a mistaken concept of civilisation and democracy etc. in today’s climate.

    • Yes, it’s quite sad to see irresponsible remarks and comments. We will have to be careful in whatever it’s written or said. Thks.

  2. Pingback: Daily SG: 14 June 2012 « The Singapore Daily

  3. Expensive Price says:

    Political leaders sets the tone of society – if performance, innovation, youth and money is revered instead of wisdom, experience, morality and graciousness – then we create a society of entitlement and exploiters. We all know the price of everything but the value of nothing. The PRC is the archetype ultimate – everything in China can be settled – like markets, we can trade once we have priced in risk!!

    If we dont like future Ryans then we need to set new tones n rhythms for our country our island can either be a Lord of the Flies or an Island in the Sun country……..

  4. I think whether a person is blogging anonymously or not, some basic responsibility and sensitivity must be exercised. It’s OK to criticise or make fun of a piece of work or an idea. Too many people out there pass the meanest comments and personal attacks without even thinking – like saying that people look like prostitute, using vulgarity on public figures etc.

    • Toothfully,
      Agreed. That is why I take seriously if a commenter leaves behind his nick or name. Most hide behind anonymous to attack others. This post is re-produced in Hardware zone where its being attacked and ridiculed. Sad to read such unwarranted attack when they just don’t bother to analyse the logic of it. They just see the forest for the woods. Thks for your comment.

      • Calvin says:

        Hardwarezone is filled by kids with too much time to spare and this is the school holidays. Most are immature to think of the bigger picture.

        If the hardwarezone kids is a reflection of our next generation, then what graciousness society are we talking about?

        • Expensive Price says:

          Monkey see monkey do – do parents have any part in “creating” these kids??

      • Expensive Price says:

        Gintai – Sadly they are many people completely frustrated – lashing and bashing the messenger on the Net seems to be their only vent. think about the service you r providing – frees IMH and stops the guys from going over the edge. Hope you are blessed with a secure personality and a impervious epidermis

  5. Calvin says:

    Cherian George suggests a code of conduct for readers. I think we should go a step further – force all Hardwarezone users and blog commentors to register with their NRIC. That will reflect the voice of the internet.

  6. Chew says:

    I like your previous post “Is this my Singapore”. The crazy HDB prices resonates with most Singaporeans but that does mean PAP is that horrible. Where are the crazy anti-PAP mob when Singaporeans sold their HDB in the ninties and profited generously from the sale?

    Nowadays netizens exaggerates any news that are against PAP. The unreasonable and unwarranted hate against PAP are further exacerbated by the likes of TOC TRE TT and SDP is leveraging on it.

    • Expensive Price says:

      Seller wants a high price – buyer would like a low price. Which pleading sud we heed? Piss everybody off or just piss off only the smaller portion?
      Beg yr indulgence and Apologies – unable to think of a refined word that express the same appropriateness and sentiment.
      Most leaders claim credit for good times, hence natural that they also are blamed for bad. Notice that US Senate is grilling their smartest? Brightest? Biggest? Strongest? Banker – Mr Dimon who has just lost 4billion of their funds and 30% of their market vale for his shareholders – wud not be surprised if there is a shareholders move to dump him.

  7. Anonymous says:

    The HDB servants or its contractors are fast in issuing summonses for illegal parking at HDB flats to Singaporeans.
    But at the Woodlands Central {Next to Woodlands CIQ} hundreds of Malaysians’ motorbikes sneaked in at Sing Shiong or minor roads to avoid paying the gantries.
    They then group together at the coffee shops leaving their motorbikes in the hundreds at the five foot ways.This occurred as early as 0500hrs. Guess the parking officers don’t have the gut to enforce it onto foreigners
    Complaints have been made to HDB or even Mr.Khaw Boon Wan but until today NATO. So do we expect Singaporean to be happy

    • Yes. I heard of this phenomenon many times. One day, I will make my way there to take pics and blog abt this issue. No worry we will highlight to the gods. If its true they better do something abt it. Thks.

  8. george says:

    I hope DPM Teo’s take away from that incident include a decisive change in his style of performance on such occasions. The nub is it takes two hands to clap. A seasoned politician/speaker would or should be aware of the impact on his audience when he practically waved aside several questions in a row. If I were in his position, it would not be difficult to tell from the reaction and body language or facial expression on the youngsters as a result of my actions. So he too had contributed to the ‘fiasco’ which I am quite sure is shared by the students peers.

    By the way Gin, I do share some of the points you made above, but we have to be mindful that those days and values are practically over and gone for good. Nowadays, youngsters and young adults while away their time shooting down their opponents (PC gaming) or in an arena with ink pellets. It is not unheard of of students in school assembly REFUSING to sing the anthem. Before you blame the students perhaps a proper reflection on what is going on in our society across the board is in order. Often outward manifestations are a sign of a deeper malaise. Not trying to excuse anything, but people have become very quick on the draw and have very high expectations esp. when the speaker draws millions in public sector salary paid by the taxpayers.

    • l says:

      agreed with george. it takes 2 to clap and i must say both sides shld take part of the blame.. the boy shldnt have used vulgarities but the dpm shld take these kids seriously..

      how can you blame the kids for being materialistic and politically bochup and “the leaders dun understand the thinking of younger generation” when you didnt make any effort to understand them and take them seriously?

      to me, the loser has to be dpm.. it was the perfect occasion to woo and wow these kids in a positive way with vast goodwill to be earned. but it was an opportunity lost and gone to waste… and the same group of kids will vote for you in 4yrs time, mind you..

      imagine what the outcome would be like if the seminar was conducted by someone as forward and open-minded like george yeo or tan cheng bock. or someone who is a champion of youths and ideas…. alas, we can only imagine..

  9. dotseng says:

    If PAP bothered themselves with regularly sharing their policies with adults. Then I don’ think they will face this problem. But as it is, PAP likes to talk to kids very much (please correct me, if I am wrong. I welcome it). I have written abt this,

    Personally, I believe there are two issues here. The first is the use of profanity which IMHO is very minor issue. The second is the significant and this relates to whether the minister was responding effectively to the audience. Unfortunately, we will never know about the second issue as it’s been overshadowed by the dreaded four letter word to the extent of obliterating much of the debate.

    However my question still stands: was the minister effective in communicating to his audience? Was he respectful of their views? Did he provide enough directional inputs to steer the discussion in the right direction? Was he perhaps a tad complacent in his preparation and responses?

    This I leave to the audience to figure out. I give you the facts. You decide for yourself. As for me, I happen to think the kid was very perceptive.

    Darkness 2012

    • Hi Darkness2012,
      Didn’t expect you to drop by cuz I thought you “going with your tribal friend Orpuk to make the long journey deep into the jungle to continue with your research?”
      Anyway, it’s good to see you here again. You are always welcome here.
      Of course, that kid is smart and perceptive. No doubt about that. But being only a kid he lacks the life experience and wisdom. He will grow wiser as he matures.
      If ONLY he didn’t use expletives, the plot would be different. You are right to point out that whatever he said is lost due to the over focus of his language.

  10. agongkia says:

    IMHO,A platoon commander can lead a troop for jungle training and if a recruit can be rude to him during the training ,the platoon commander himself also need to take a look into himself.It may not necessary be the fault of the recruit just because he is new,poor,less educated ,no family backing or young.
    My take is different from you Gintai,so I better dun langgar with you.

    • No problem u can langgar all u want. First thing is discipline and respect for chain of command. If the officer misconducts himself, there is court martial to deal with him. No discipline, there can be no effectiveness in achieving the task on hand. If the officer is unbecoming, the men could petition for him to be removed.
      In the case of the DPM, the ppl will decide in the next GE. Just like recently, PM removed some unpopular Ministers after the GE. You see, there is way to everything. Everyone is ultimately accountable unlike in those days of emperor or Imperial colonial system of yester years. Got it?

  11. patriot says:

    Hi to Everyone!

    Those who have read My Singapore News(Blogsite) and Feed Me To The Fish(Blogsite) should know where we(me included) stand with regard the exploit of Reuben Wang, the JC Student mentioned here.

    Mr Chua Chin Leng aka Redbean, Mr Fish, me and many others in our fraternity are mostly senior citizens; some had lived through the Japanese Occupation and almost all had been Colonial Subjects.

    Personally, me wishes that Reuben could have presented himself in a more courteous manner, however, me like Redbean and Mr Fish do not blame him for his(Reuben) outburst. In fact, we are thankful that at long last, we have someone responding spontaneously to our Rulers.

    Do allow me to talk a little about the Subject of Upbringing. In order for Upbringing to bear positive result, there MUST BE ROLE MODELS, THESE ROLE MODELS HAVE TO BE EXEMPLARY, HONOURABLE(RESPECTABLE) AND OF PROPRIETY. DO WE HAVE THEM IN SIN AFTER INDEPENDENCE? My personal answer is; we have plenty of rotten models! Rulers calling their subjects daft, lazy and what not. One even claimed to be deaf and acted like clown now and then. The Rulers have shown in no uncertain way that they are the best and they know best in everything. Did they consult the people when implementing their policies? Did they convene any Parliament Debate when making changes to our CPF, when they implemented COE, ERP, increased GST??? Why then do they asked for opinions? Are there no suggestions and ideas from Netizens? Did they ever care about what we say?

    Of late, we had teachers, principals, top civil servants and senior execitives literally fucking amongst themselves, some even become corrupted. Divorce rate is climbing higher each year; You dare to talk about upbring??? You have the authority to command respect??? Dont joke please! As Rulers, Educators and Parents, many are showing themselves to rotten beyond redemption.

    By the way, talking about paying blind respect and obeisance, oni one species does that, the stupid domesticated dog, that is it.

    If one gets fucked, it is time to repent, that is because YOU EARNED AND INVITED THAT DISRESPECT, that all I have to say.


    • Alamak! Patriot, you seem to be very pissed off. Pls take care of your health. No good for your blood pressure lah. I still feel that using expletives is not the proper way to communicate and resolve issues. Let reason prevail and be the guiding principle in any public discourse. Anarchy is not the desired outcome.

    • Tony C L Ow says:

      You are fxxkxxx right1

    • Saycheese says:

      Patriot, I like your style. Straight to the jugular, no hemming, hawing or kowtowing to those who think of themselves as above us.

      Reuben was writing for HIS audience, a different generation. Remember the NTU graduation – “We fucking did it!”? Anybody remembered what a then 17 year old girl, Gayle Goh, wrote in her blog? Expletives laden but very well written and she was a champion debater from St. Andrews JC, now serving her bond in NEA. We are all old foggies, and F U if you or I forget that.

      Peace, and have a good day.

  12. Ee Er San says:

    Whatever the dpm’s excuses I think he behaved badly in returning questions for questions. He was, and he knew beforehand that he would be, in a QnA session so he was expected to prepare himself adequately for it. But he appeared to be lackadaisical in handling the situation and as a result pissed off the students which resulted in the 17 year old fooking him later in his blog. I do not wish to condone what the student did but can somewhat understand why he did it. I think some good has come from it as I very much doubt whether the dpm or any other m would now readily repeat what the dpm did. So was it a “teachable moment” for the student, or for the dpm? Perhaps both…

  13. patriot says:


    remember that me told You that to be a respected blogger, You HAVE TO avoid using expletive during our coffee session?

    Dr Mike sent me an email about the use of expletive and that is one reason why me and the others used and will be using when it is appropriate.

    I feel that Redbean and Fish had used it very nicely.


    • Yup. I used reasons and logic to argue my case. No point in using expletives like what that kid did. It will dilute and divert your points. It serves no purpose at all.

      • Steven says:

        you know people when young is liable to vent their frustration through expletive especially when they sense something is wrong and yet not given a reasonable explanation, and if particular those issue certainly impact that person. But this pale in comparison to a young holier-than-white who resort to violence by slapping a person when been criticizing of wrong doing, and did he make to apologise to the public especially when it is of public interest that there is rule and policy to follow in public office ?

        Please read this
        “”Back in 1990, Loong had a quarrel with Richard Hu. S. Dhanabalan sided with Richard. Loong lost his temper.

        ”He reached across the table and gave Dhanabalan a tight slap. The whole Cabinet was thrown into commotion.

        “I then forced Loong to apologise. I must be suffering from amnesia. I just cannot remember this incident. Now you know how creative Singaporeans are.” ”

        That’s say that whatever seniority only earn respect if they deserve and honour it not when they demand and expect it regardless of their actions.

        Let me tell you a true incident. I have a neighbour who love to insult me with name , and even shout across publicly with 30 metres. After nicely telling him (without using expletive) that I respect him as neighbour and as a senior person (he is about 60 years old and jobless) that he should respect other young person, he soon revert to his old way even though he keep telling me he doing this as a joke. So one day I blown out at him publicly, and this is what I told him word by word:

        “You are damn fuck#@$#er. Who the fu#@$k you think you are ? Don’t think I’m afraid of you. I respect you as a neighbour and as a senior, that is why I tolerate you but don’t you fu@#$ker dare to take me for granted. I been fu%^cking nice to you but you still want to fuc$@#@$k with me. One more fuc#@$@king insult from you, and off you go to police station. You fuc@#$ker, You understand me ? I don’t care who the fuc@#$k thing you are, you don’t mess with me”

        Gintai, you’ll be surprised how effective expletive is. My neighbour never insult me again and hold me in fear. Well, I guess it is better to be feared rather than to be loved by bully !

        • expensive profits says:

          Wow, wars were started on less!
          Un-grace begets un-grace often spirals out of control of the protagonist.
          Remember the Everitt Road neighborhood wars – only the lawyers made money.
          Ego, provocation, reaction and a hothead becomes an explosive situation.
          At ultimate madness someone dies for another to be justified – lives are cut short. We can create paradise or hell together – we all have a part to play.

  14. Anonymous says:

    On chain of commands, if the command is fooked, we are fecked!
    Ultimately, who the feck got fooked?
    What do you think?

  15. Pigs Are Pigs! says:

    When leaders behave and are greedy like PIGS,

    what can we expect from them? And how to
    respect them?

  16. redbean says:

    What if, when the young man told Chee Hean that he was only 17 and not apt to give a solution, and Chee Hean stood up and clapped, and said, ‘This is a thinking young man who knows how to defend his position. He is right to say that a young man is not the right person to offer solutions on national issues. But it is good to hear their views given their limited experience and exposure to the world of adults. It can be refreshing and prompt the govt to look from a different angle.’

    And he can then go on to explain that decision making at the national level involves a lot of facts and information, discussion and wisdom before a position is taken. He could elaborate a bit more to enlighten the students.

    Now that would have won him the hearts of the students.

  17. Pigs Are Pigs! says:

    Hi Saycheese;

    thank You much for the interaction and support.

    Indeed, had we, the old foggies been more vigilant and less blindfolded, Sin would not have developed to the state it is today. Unfortunately, many do not believe that we are enslaved, that many have to slog for some others, to live like monarchs. And the WORST of all is to have much of the Land and Essential Goods and Services sold to foreigners. Which Singaporean in his/her right mind wants his/her home to be shared and owned by aliens?

    Who wants to be housed in pigeon hole, packed liked sardine in public transport and be in perpetual debt due to illness or even give up treatment??? Anyone likes to queue half an hour or more for breakfast or lunch and find no place to sit and enjoy the meal? What will happen to us should a disaster strikes?
    There are many more issues that have been blogged by Singaporeans for almost a decade. So, my fellow Singaporeans, please go into the NEW MEDIA and find out more and maybe put forward your concern and view to share with us.


  18. Ah Heng says:

    I think at the end of the day, we have to step back and look at what DPM Teo was doing when he asked the students: “What do you think?” It is doubtful that he was asking for concrete policy solutions from an assembly of teenagers. He was trying to engage them. Nothing wrong with that. Asking people what they think can be a call to dialogue.

  19. Roaring Lion says:

    Hi Gintai,
    To be honest, I am quite disturbed with the answer “What do you think?” on the dialogue between DPM Teo and the youth. It shows the leader hasn’t ever understood the concerns of youth, lest the major issues and problems happening in Singapore e.g massive foreign employment in various sectors, frequent breakdown of MRT and high cost of living.

    I can understand his anger and frustration for not being heard for the first time. I hope the youth can use your blog to voice out his concern again.

    To Reuben Wang,
    Please use this blog to write down all your concerns in this platform. Gintai will be meeting law minister K Shanmugam on adult-to-adult basis dialogue again. At least, I believe he will not get a kidding answer “What do you think?”

    Once again, thanks to Gintai!

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