Wednesday, July 14, 2010

An Open Letter

Eight is supposed to be a lucky number, but people who served or worked with Commander Eight would beg to differ.

As Eight gives way to Nine, we should look forward to seeing the directorate reclaim lost ground and missed opportunities.

Initial signs are promising, if signals picked up from the protocol introduction on Monday morning are anything to go by.

The female staff officers – women being genetically hard-wired the way they are – reacted predictably to a boyish face in the room. *sigh*

Cynics in the room, tempered by three years of uninspiring leadership, looked beyond the obvious and studied Commander Nine’s credentials with keen interest.

The recent overseas operational deployment counts in Nine’s favour. Same goes for positive feedback on his people management skills in his previous commands.

Discrete checks were made all the way from OCS, 2 SIR, 1 SIR, 3 SIB and so on. You get the picture.

After the sour experience with Eight, prudence dictates that the intelligence preparation of the battlefield should be thorough. That said, it is generally agreed that the initial prognosis is good.

Coming close on the heels of the addition of PGBN as DD, Commander Nine’s arrival would mean a wholesale leadership renewal once Nine formally becomes Niner Niner. The concern over PGBN is his close association with Eight from previous projects. So developments are being closely watched. The attitude of Eight’s cronies have come under the spotlight too, for some time now I might add, because what I discern as self-serving behaviour has damaged C2D.

In my opinion, three groups of stakeholders need to be addressed.

First, the people under Nine’s command.

Those in the defence information management (DIM) network would know they have been long suffering. Many have quit, more will do so in the coming weeks including SOs like WY.

Those that remain are sceptical but eager for change. They will serve with distinction - if given the opportunity and the latitude to do their jobs as professionals.

Second, the wider network of stakeholders.

Reputations have been damaged by the poison well strategy beloved by Eight. In my opinion, it’s his trademark.

And when a Service chief gets dragged into petty office politics by Eight, there will be repercussions that the directorate will have to bear.

To be sure, I draw comfort from the fact that the System isn’t stupid. And from knowing that our Generals do not have flimsy reputations that are easily dented.

Indeed, interest in the directorate has spread beyond Level 5, let’s just put it at that.

Despite acidic memos, the System has recognised that SOs tasked with DIM had the wider interest at heart when initiating certain outreach efforts.

I have learnt more about DIM in the past year than I have in my previous career as a 90 cents typist. I am assured that the land, sea, air and Joint Services would have stepped forward to assume command resolutely had Eight dropped the ball. I won’t go into specifics as this concerns operational matters, but those of you who have stirred coffee with me will know what I mean.

It suffices to say that our DIM network is larger, more established and robust than the obvious stuff listed in the government directory.

Looking ahead, the Services will need assurance that the petty antics are personality-specific and not a result of the directorate’s approach to doing business. So fence-mending is in order.

Third, the media.

Again, this touches on operational matters so I won’t go in depth besides skimming the surface.

As the Shangri-La Dialogue approach to consensus-building has been praised by many, Commander Nine should consider doing the same.

The abang-adik (big brother-small brother) relationship where imperial edicts were shoved down typists' throats has not gone down well, especially with senior editors who do not like to be told how they should run their show.

Commander Eight is widely seen as a problematic newsmaker. This is not the kind of moniker one should inherit, but the reality is Nine risks being tainted with the same brush.

If you need more proof of this, please do a straw poll on Friday 23 July'10 and study the responses you collect. This is the wreckage Eight will leave behind.

In short, the code DTKM may not mean much to you.

But for those of us who have been keeping an eye on things, these four letters spell hope.

One hopes Nine will not approach Public Affairs matters with the same high-handed vindictiveness as his predecessor. Because if Nine decides to open fire, we will respond, gun for gun.


xtemujin said...

Infantry officer from the ground up.

Let's hope he does well in the media front.

Anonymous said...

Finally, where is this eight dude going? In the job queue outside now?

Anonymous said...

Can we have you as Mr Nine, Generalissimo Nine??? You could engage the media with your guns and your blog!!!!

FIVE-TWO said...

does Nine follow this blog too?

Ben Choong said...

its nice to see how you've identified that employee stakeholder group needs to be the first that is addressed. if anything, that's normally the most ignored stakeholder group in most organizations. lets hope 9 will be able to pave a new path and set things right for the directorate.

Anonymous said...

It would be pointless if the guy doesn't follow this. General Boey would not have been able to fire his cannons!

Anonymous said...

"But if they do this, of course this would invite a response from neighbouring countries. I believe that none of the neighbouring countries want to attack Singapore. It has no strategic depth. No natural resources. The rhetoric in Singapore is that other countries are ‘envious of our success’. I don’t think there is envy. But there is pity. Because here is a country with such a delusional sense of self-importance that it devotes so much of its budget to defence, and wastes productive years of the lives of its adult males through mandatory conscription."

Alfian Sa'at


What does our 90 cents General think about this?

Ben Choong said...

"What does our 90 cents General think about this? "



I think it looks more like flamebait. But that's me, I guess. What does Anonymous think?

FIVE-TWO said...

I am not a General, but I am glad that Alfian Sa'at is not in charge of our national security.

Anonymous said...

He's probably just another of those anti-NS guys who pops up every now and then to show how clueless they are about how vital national security is to S'pore's nation building and going-concern as a sovereign country in the past, present and future.

Anonymous said...

Except that he is a renowned (or notorious) local playwright, in a regional context. He has just made these remarks to a Malaysian paper.

Anonymous said...

And he will have influence. A good PR department would know how to cultivate the people.

Anonymous said...

"If you need more proof of this, please do a straw poll on Friday 23 July'10 and study the responses you collect."

It's Friday the 23rd! Wonder what Boeyman's mole will leak out this time. Feels like some Russian spy game!