Saturday, 22 April 2017

Conversation: State-Assisted Funeral for Othman Wok

"Another Old Guard pass away." *sigh*

"Encik Othman Wok. He was a good man."

"Yeah. I remember when... That time... aiyah! Si lah. I must be getting old. I don't remember why he was a good man."

"Don't look at me. I too young to remember. I HEARD he was important in helping Lee Kuan Yew get the support of the Malay community in the early years. "

"Ah! Yah! Something like that. I remember something like that. That time there were quite a few riots and trouble about race. We needed strong people to hold Singapore together. Yeah. Mr Othman Wok was very important. It is right that we give him a State Funeral."


"Yes, of course the state must help."

"No. Not a 'State Funeral'. A 'State-Assisted Funeral'."

"Which one better?"

"Generally, people thinks a State Funeral is a higher level than a State-assisted funeral, I believe."

"Then as a Lao Jiao, Pioneer Generation Cabinet Minister, he should get the the best. How can give him 2nd class honour?"

"But State Funeral also very le-chey. The body have to Lie in State for a few days for people to pay their last respects. Maybe the family don't want?"

"Aiyah! If don't want to 'lie instead' for so long, then just short-short lah! Even one day oso can right? Then just do one day, lor!"

"Except that Muslims, if I understand correctly, there is no extended funeral and they have to bury the body as soon as possible. So maybe State Funeral not allowed for Muslims?"

"Cannot be lah! Dun anyhow say, okay! Our first President, Yusof Ishak had a State Funeral. But... he was 'lying instead' for only half a day. I remember, it was for only a few hours, and I couldn't go. So they also try to follow the Muslim practice."

"I read that usually for Muslim funerals, the women are not present. But for the President, because it was a State Funeral, the First Lady was there."

"So not true that cannot have State Funeral for Muslims. The 'lying instead' can be very short - just a few hours. So can what! Should have State Funeral for Othman Wok, lah!"

"I also think should have, but I think this should be the choice of the family. Some people are very private and would not want to have a big show. Others may feel that it is only right to properly send off an important person."

"So the question is whether the choice was offered to the family in the first place. If the garment did offer and the family don't want, then say so lah! Then at least we know the garment is not being kiam, and it was the family who did not want the State Funeral!"

"And then people will ask, why the family so selfish don't let others pay their last respect. If the govt say, we offered but the family don't want, it puts the burden on the family to answer to the public. This is not fair to the family as well. "

"But that is if you are cor-right and the govt ACTUALLY offered a State Funeral. Maybe they didn't?"

"Yes, we don't know because such discussion would be private."

"Then maybe the garment is kiam, lah!"

"We dunno. It depends on how you want to see the govt. If you believe the govt is 'kiam', then you will believe the govt never offered, that's why there is no state funeral and only a state-assisted funeral. But if you believe the govt will respect the wishes and privacy of a great man who has given so much to Singapore and his family, then the govt will NOT save its own reputation by betraying the confidence of the family, and reveal the details of private discussion that might possibly put the family in a bad position. "

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