Singaporeans should take time to reflect upon what is it that they are being called to celebrate on August the 9th. Posters and video displays call upon Singaporeans to celebrate 37 years of independence.
What independence are Singaporeans being called upon to celebrate and from whom. Today, in this age of globalisation, no country is totally independent of another even if President Bush thinks the United States can act independently of all the other countries. All policies and decisions of a country have to take into consideration the impact made on other countries of those unilateral decisions.
This leaves the question – independence for whom? Is it independence of the people we are celebrating or are we called upon to celebrate the independence of a minority who rule at will.
Do our people lead independent lives that people in truly independent countries do?
Do they have the freedom to speak out?
Do they live free from fear? For almost half a century now the lives of Singaporeans have been controlled to an extent that is only seen in communist or fascist countries.
Do all Singaporeans have independence from poverty or is it the case that 30% of our people still live in poverty conditions struggling to meet the cost of living, health care and totally neglected in their old age.
Is it independence or serfdom where the people have no say whatsoever but are totally under the control of a minority who rule striking fear through organs totally under their control, the police and other law enforcement agencies.
Do our citizens have recourse to the courts to protect them if they are arrested and thrown into prison for wanting to exercise their fundamental rights as a free and independent people.
Singaporeans would do well to ponder over all this and not slavishly beat the drum with the PAP.
J. B. Jeyaretnam
6th August 2002