The organised chaos

Good Morning, Singapore

Overslept this morning again. Had my alarm set at 8.30am but somehow when I opened my eyes, the clock showed 11.00am. Oh blast.

Spent what’s left of the morning reading the newspapers and came away feeling rather disturbed and sad.

The news that took centerstage at The Straits Times today is that of the Nicoll Highway tragedy. Due to fears that the wreckage would collapse, SCDF has decided to call off the search for the body of the last missing man.

The Grim Reaper has reared his ugly head here, leaving pain and distress in his wake. There is a sense of bitter irony working here – the family of the missing man needs his body to provide closure to the trauma that they have gone through for the past few days. And yet, to gain such psychological comfort, it would mean endangering the lives of many other Singaporeans, who have risked life and limb just to do that for them. In the end, the decision was made to call off the search. The family might not be able to accept the decision but ultimately, they have to resign themselves to the fact that they now have to obtain closure in other ways.

I admire the family members of the dead for their courage. Courage in sharing their grief with the rest of the nation, courage in the dignified ways that they have held themselves under the scrutiny, courage in their acceptance of the accident.

Another perturbing piece of news was that this website has, in the name of journalism, published a series of photographs showing the remains of dead American soldiers arriving home. Subsequently, many other mainstream news organisations also published the pictures, as detailed by The New York Times (registration needed).

According to the article, news organisations have criticised the Pentagon for limiting information about the dead soldiers in their bid to conceal negative publicity about the war in Iraq. And yes, press freedom is important to the journalists, as evident in their First Amendment. But obviously the good people at the site did not employ the Potter Box in making their decision to run the photos. And equally obvious is the fact that they have not heard of Rawls’ and his Veil of Ignorance, or the Agape principle (yes, I have not wasted my four years of university education).

Do the families of the dead soldiers need to see the pictures splashed on their newspapers in such a manner? Sure, it’s woefully ridiculous that they do not get to see the bodies of their loved ones being brought home to them. But does the act of running these pictures provide any sense of closure? I don’t think so.