Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The value of a human life

Something is keeping me awake. I have to get up and be ready for morning shift in 2 hours, but something I read on the internet is disturbing me deeply.

That something is a suicide letter penned on 4-March-2009 by Allan Ooi [see below or click here], a medical officer who killed himself to escape his SAF bond. Whatever the reasons SAF has for its system, one cannot help but ponder if a little flexibility on their part might just alter the tragic end. Afterall, even if he were to break the bond, he would not be the only one. What's more? I find it ironic that foreign scholars escape prosecution by exiting the little red dot, while born-and-bred Singaporeans (e.g. Acid Flask) are hounded even when they are overseas. Should a mistake in one's career choices have such damaging effects? What, indeed, is the value of a human life? Is a Singapore citizen's dignity and freedom worth less than those of his "foreign talent" counterpart?

Guess another point that disturbs me greatly is that Allan Ooi wrote, "I can happily say that I have led a full life, despite ending at the age of 27". I can guess at what he meant, for I too had wished for an end to my life when I was 28. But that's another story. Back to sleep for now.


[Alleged suicide note from Dr Allan Ooi, copied from Mr Lim website.]

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Allan Ooi
Date: Wed, Mar 4, 2009 at 12:29 PM
To: undisclosed-recipients
To the people I care about
I have decided to end my life. I will do so happily, at peace with the life I have lived. Yet unfortunately, I am also painfully aware of the pain I am causing a number of people – my family, dear friends, and others whom my actions have hurt or inconvenienced. Therefore, I am penning a brief, inadequate, yet hopefully comforting letter to attempt an explanation for not only my jettison of an old life and all it represents, but the entirety of thought I’ve processed during. I am performing this task of writing with reluctance and brevity, so please forgive any lack of insight or substance that might have been hoped for.
I am not depressed, and never have been. I was, however, intensely unhappy at the point of my departure from home, family and friends.
My job was terrible – no joy, no satisfaction, 10-14 hours a day of nothing. A prison. One of my own forging, perhaps, by signing a contract with the SAF at the age of 18. Youth was not an excuse, yes, but I refused to accept being deceived into believing things about the nature of my employment that were simply untrue. 12 years of bonded service became potentially 15 or 16, became unbreakable, became stifling to the point of utter hopelessness. How can a bond be unbreakable? How can it be extended at will by an administration simply by passing a paper? and how can the people subject to this bond not even question it, but instead sit in silent resentment and ultimate dissatisfaction? I was angry, so angry, which stemmed ultimately from a sense of waste and imprisonment so profound that I had no choice but to leave it entirely. To the people within this system, please change it to better benefit yourselves and future generations, instead of creating a self-perpetuating cycle of at best, painful obligation, and at worst, utter despair.
That was certainly the main cause of my severing of ties. However, it is not the only one.
I can happily say that I have led a full life, despite it ending at the age of 27.
I have many friends, some true friends among whom I value very highly (if you are reading this, you know who you are). Thank you for your love, trust and friendship. Especially those who sought to contact me after I Left, long after even, you are truly special people.
My family is loving, despite flaws which are inherent in every family. My father is a strong man, with excellent values and incredible purpose, traits my brother has inherited well, and I respect them both for it. My mother has so much love, and persistently gave it to me even though I was frequently undeserving. And my sister, I love you so much, you are the one I hated leaving the most.
I have been fortunate to have been blessed with health, intelligence, and talent for a number of things, and even further blessed to have been able to apply these things to my life. I only hope that through the years, this life of mine has caused more good and happiness than pain and unhappiness.
However, I have also developed a number of unsavory qualities which I dislike about myself. I have lies, deceived, badmouthed and hurt people whom I care about, in enough frequency to be somewhat repulsed by myself for it. Foolish pride has reared its ugly head in my life more often than I care to admit, and fractured perfectly good relationships.
I have only truly loved (and still love) one woman, despite my numerous flings, and the failure of that relationship destroyed me in many ways. I retaliated by in turn hurting many people after, and I apologise, so much, for doing so.
My best friend – the small betrayal you perpetrated was just that, so small. Why haven’t we spoken since? I value your friendship so much.
There’s so much more than I could say and want to say, but I have to be satisfied and hope that this is all I should say. So I come to the crux of this letter – I am deeply sorry, for the pain I have caused, and the follies I have perpetrated during my brief life. Yet I am also very, very thankful for the blessings I have received, and the many joys I have experienced, through love, family and friendship. I sincerely hope that my passing causes minimal grief, and that these words help to do just that. Perhaps my final act is one of cowardice, but I like to think of it as one of resolution. I do not believe in an afterlife, or a God. Death should be final and absolute. In my time away from home, I have come to reinforce my belief that all ideologies, religions and dogmata of our day are merely facades with which to perpetuate our lives. I have no sufficient investment or interest in any such temporal or spiritual thinking, and this is the main thrust of my decision to pass from the world. I die happy, at peace, almost eager to see what comes next, if anything at all.


  1. What happened at 28 years old? tell me leh

    1. Hi asingaporeanson,

      Haha, I will share someday. I have more interesting/pressing stuff to share right now. Thanks for visiting, checking out my old entries and commenting.

      Cheers, WD.

    2. This is for my other readers who stumble upon this blog entry.

      Asingaporeanson already knows about my series of blog entries on "A love story", which share some stuff that happened. If you're interested, here's the link to the 1st part.