The idea of a political party talking about care and compassion might strike some as out of place especially in a financially obsessed society like ours where all our passion and energy are channeled into getting rich – at all cost.
And yet it is in such a system that compassion plays, or should play, an important role. We need, now more than ever, an alternative vision where we treat our people as people, not animals who need to be driven by, in the infamous words of Mr Lee Kuan Yew, spurs stuck into our hides
The rich get richer, the poor kill themselves
The present system makes beggars out of the poor and billionaires out of the millionaires. On one end we have the superclass who live in unsurpassed opulence, many with their wealth obtained through illicit or unethical means.
On the other end, we have the underclass who find life a crushing burden because of exploitation. Many of them end up taking their own lives as a result. The Samaritans of Singapore (SOS)
reported yesterday that in 2009, 401 people in Singapore committed suicide, an increase of 10 percent from 2008. That’s more than one person taking his/her own life everyday!
Counselors say that while the causes of suicide may be varied, the rate mirrors the economic situation. One social worker commented: “They are afraid of burdening their family, that they can’t clear their debts. They think they can resolve matters through death. They probably didn’t want to die, they just wanted to end their pain.”
Does the PAP care? Despite the bleak outlook for many locals, the Government is bent of bringing in 100,000 more foreign workers this year.
This is not because such foreign labour will upgrade our economy but because it is cheap. As a result locals labour harder and longer for less. By pursuing a growth-at-all-cost-and-greed-is-good strategy, the PAP is driving our society into the ground. It is not a sustainable formula.
Compassionate humans or strong savages
Compassion is not a namby-pamby concept. It is what will keep greed from tearing our society asunder.
Compassion distinguishes us from lower animals. The fact that we are endowed with the ability to care for our weak, frail and less fortunate are virtues that we should celebrate, not shun.
A male lion in the plains of Africa will kill the cubs sired by a rival male because he must ensure that his genes, not those of his competitors, are propagated. It is the survival of the fittest. Humans don’t do that. We protect our young regardless of who they belong to. This is compassion.
It is written into our DNA – the strong take care of the weak, the powerful of the powerless. Where we see pain, we ease it. Where we see injustice, we right it. Where we see suffering, we alleviate it.
Compassion. It defines us as humans. It also defines us as the Singapore Democrats.
In the realm of politics, can it be that we elect persons into positions of power and influence so that they can crush those below them in the name of pragmatism and progress?
When our weak and old become economically unproductive, does the government discard them? When those who worked hard at their jobs suddenly find themselves retrenched, do we just say too bad? When our living cost spirals upwards, do we just tell our workers to work faster, better and cheaper?
Neglecting our weak, ignoring the retrenched, and economically brutalising our poor is not smart economics and is certainly very bad politics.
Prosperity for all
We must wrest the narrative back from those who tell us, for their own selfish gain, that showing compassion would cause our economy to unravel. Caring, they say, is for charities. The government must focus exclusively on creating wealth – at all cost.
This is where we, the Democrats, want to inject a strong dose of wisdom into our politics: A government must have a strong sense of economic achievement tempered by an equally robust attitude of compassion. Only then can we ensure prosperity for all.