Diary of the night vigil VIII

Francis Yong
01 Dec 06

The last time I attended a vigil was at Changi Village. A group of us gathered at a 24-hour eating joint on the eve of Van Nguyen’s execution.

It has been exactly a year since the Australian boy was murdered by the Singapore Government. It is such a sheer waste of life. I read an article that told of how Van’s mother has not been able to cope since his tragic death.

I remember how I felt the few hours before Van went to the gallows. My heart was ladened. I kept thinking about how the young lad must have been feeling, knowing that he was going through the last few hours of his life on earth. The fact that he had become a Catholic was the only consolation. I too am one and I believe that Van is now in a much better place. But still, the deep sorrow that I felt for Van and his family and the sense of helplessness seeped deep into my soul that night.

This is in contrast with the mood and feeling at the the vigil that we have been holding for our friends outside the Queenstown Remand Prison. There is an air of hope and sense of empowerment in being there.

The many people who have turned up to encourage us have motivated the group to continue down the road of fighting for justice, rights and demcoracy for Singaporeans. I am not deluded. I know it will be a long hard road. But I know it is one that true democrats in Singapore are willing to tread because this road will lead to freedom from the PAP oppression.

Most Singaporeans have the impression that the SDP is focusing only on freedom of speech. In fact, we have also raised many other bread-and-butter issues and have published several reports on Land Transport (1994), Economics (1995) and Labour and poverty (2004). The SDP was the first political party to propose the minimum wage and retrenchment benefits schemes during the 2001 General Elections.

Despite what many of us had gone through over the devastating law suit during the last General Elections, with our tattered yet defiant campaign going on one side and our family members’ anguish on the other side, I am extremely proud to stand with Dr Chee and our fellow advocates to defend the cause of the poor, the oppressed and the voiceless.

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