Singapore — A Facebook group calling the country’s second deputy Prime Minister a “mad genius” in a post has been making the rounds on social media since it went up on June 26, Wednesday.
The group, Memedef, contains content, specifically memes, that have to do with the country’s National Service. Memedef posted a photo of a passage from the book, Goh Keng Swee: A Legacy of Public Service.
Media outfit mothership.sg reports that the former deputy Prime Minister and Finance and Defence minister had been dissatisfied that the country’s military units were paying scant heed to directives from headquarters, as current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said, at his 2010 eulogy for Dr Goh.
PM Lee said, “Dr Goh also had a fun side to him. In MINDEF, he became frustrated that directives from headquarters to the units were having so little effect. As an experiment, he ordered a directive issued to all units that comprised nothing but the Bible passage on Noah’s Ark. The directive made its way through the organisation – some units simply passed it on to their subordinate units for implementation, others filed it for reference, and only one person asked what it was for. Dr Goh wrote up the results into a paper, which he entitled ‘Noah’s Ark Progresses through the SAF.’”
The excerpt from Dr Goh’s biography reads, “Testing his hypothesis that ‘anyone could slip chunks of statistics from the National estimates into an army document and no one would notice,’ Goh issued a General circular quoting what was, in fact, the fairly lengthy passage on the Flood from the biblical book of Genesis, which produced mixed results across the rank-and-file of the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) and the armed forces.”
The passage above is accompanied by this quote.
“Most recipients were perplexed, to say the least—but in a comical bid to conceal their ignorance, they either forwarded the circular to their subordinates, with the words ‘For your necessary action’, or “noted and filed’.”
But this is not all. The directive was apparently taken seriously by the Army, who in turn sent it to the Navy.
The quote continues, “Since the passage had mentioned floods, the Army officers sent it to the Navy officers ‘for action.’
Perhaps the Singaporean forces were determined to recreate Noah’s Ark after all.
“The more imaginative officers interpreted the extract as instructions to send two representatives from each company to assemble forty days later, as the document mentioned the following lines, ‘You shall bring two of every sort into the ark,’ and ‘The rain was on the earth forty days and forty nights’. Only one officer… had the common sense to ask in exasperation, ‘What on earth is this circular all about, and who sent it?”
This was hardly the only time that Dr Goh showed the acuteness of his thinking. Mothership also quotes the former Prime Minister, who had been the head of the finance ministry not once but twice, as well as the Chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), as saying in his first budget speech in 1967,
“I have long suspected that nobody pays the slightest attention either in this House or when they read the proceedings in tomorrow’s newspapers or in Hansard nobody pays the slightest attention to the interminable series of figures involved in an exposition of this kind. The average human mind, unfortunately, does not have a high degree of perceptivity in respect of numbers, and I am afraid that it is the misfortune of Finance Ministers in their Budget presentation to labour under the misapprehension that their audiences are eagerly and intelligently digesting the outpouring of numerical data. I have come to the conclusion that this is a waste of time both on my part and on the part of honourable Members.”/ TISG
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