You know the elections are not far away when the media start their shenanigans against the Singapore Democrats. Two days ago, the Straits Times published an article by one Mr Liang Tung-ping in which the writer disparaged the SDP while ascribing Singapore’s success – a “near perfect society” in Mr Liang’s words – to the PAP (see report below).
He took particular aim at Dr Chee Soon Juan whom he described as “abandoned by his own comrades” after he “got Mr Chiam kicked out” and that the “SDP fail(ed) to grow stronger”.
Curiously the piece was first published in the Chinese-language edition of the China Times in Taiwan. The tagline did not mention who the writer was or in what capacity he was writing.
It seemed like a hack job taken straight from the PAP’s playbook.
With elections looming the over-the-top propaganda was reproduced by the Straits Times with only one thing in mind – to continue to disparage the SDP.
Factually, the attacks by Mr Liang don’t even stand. Dr Chee has been abandoned by his colleagues? He kicked Mr Chiam out? The SDP has failed to grow stronger? As one politician said: “You are entitled to your own opinions, but you are not entitled to your own facts.”
The Singapore Democrats have written to the ST Forum page and will not elaborate on the matter here. We can only hope that the newspaper will have the decency to publish our reply.
On another front, Channel News Asia ran a report entitled Cyberspace: The next GE battleground. The grandiose sounding title did not do justice to the reporting. Three parties and their use, or non-use, of the Internet were highlighted: Workers’ Party, Reform Party and, of course, the PAP.
There was not a single mention of the SDP.
We will leave readers and netizens to judge which political party in Singapore has been at the forefront of using the new media to engage Singaporeans.
A couple of weeks back, the National University Students’ Political Association organised a forum for its student members and invited the PAP, WP and RP to speak. Again, the SDP was excluded.
Netizens must ask why the PAP goes to such lengths to, on the one hand, attack the Singapore Democrats, and, on the other, deprive us of means to defend ourselves and communicate with voters. Why do we get the feeling that the PAP just wants one particular party out of the political scene?
Support the party that the PAP wants out. Come to our rally tomorrow. (Click here)
An opposition that does itself no favours
By Liang Tung-ping
Nov 10, 2010
EVEN though the Republic of Singapore was founded only 45 years ago, it stands proud in the region and even in the world at large, due to its political stability and economic prosperity.
Strange as it may seem, such a nation, once described by the late Harvard University political scientist Samuel Huntington as a ‘near-perfect society’, is also often the target of criticism of some political commentators. Their criticisms usually centre around the issues of authoritarian rule and suppression of the opposition parties, and so on.
The truth is that most of these criticisms are superficial, blind, self-opinionated and come with ulterior motives.
The fact remains that in the foreseeable future, there is hardly any opportunity for the opposition parties in Singapore to grow in strength – due to the great work the ruling People’s Action Party has done in governing the country, plus the fact that most opposition politicians in Singapore lack the necessary qualities and are often fighting among themselves.
In Singapore, there is a Speakers’ Corner within Hong Lim Park, modelled after the Speakers’ Corner in Britain’s Hyde Park, which the Government established in 2000 in response to criticism that Singapore lacks free speech. This park is a real-life example of what politics is like in Singapore.
When it was first launched, it managed to attract crowds for quite a while, but enthusiasm for it soon died down. The main reason for this is because most of the speakers just could not manage to piece together any serious or meaningful criticism of the Singapore Government. Eventually, most of the issues raised tended to be trivial, and this turned off many in the audience.
All that remains of the Speakers’ Corner today is a signboard indicating its location.
In September 2008, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced a ground-breaking measure allowing individuals and organisations to gather at Speakers’ Corner to stage demonstrations and protests, by simply registering online. For a few days after the measure was announced, the Chinese-language Lianhe Zaobao did a series of stories, hoping to report large-scale public gatherings and demonstrations at the park, events that were previously unheard of in the island state.
In the end, the reporters saw only ‘a few tiny birds flying around the park’. It seemed that nobody had bothered to register with the authorities to protest.
The Singapore Parliament comprises 84 elected Members of Parliament (MPs), one Non-Constituency MP (NCMP) and nine Nominated MPs.
Among the elected MPs, there are two opposition members: one of them, the 75-year-old Mr Chiam See Tong, is a six-term MP from the Singapore People’s Party who has served for 26 years; the other is Mr Low Thia Khiang from the Workers’ Party (WP), who has also been around for quite a few terms. The NCMP is the WP’s Ms Sylvia Lim.
The NCMP seats are automatically given to the ‘best losers’ among the opposition candidates. Indeed, to make the number of opposition MPs in Parliament look better, the Singapore Government has also amended the law to allow more opposition NCMPs in Parliament in the next elections.
Why is this so? Precisely because the opposition has hardly any chance of winning.
A small nation such as Singapore, with all its worthy talents roped in by the ruling party, leaving the opposition with the likes of politicians such as Dr Chee Soon Juan – how can the opposition ever grow in strength and earn the people’s trust?
Dr Chee of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) is actually the worst example that one can cite among the island’s opposition camp. Introduced into politics by Mr Chiam when the latter was the party’s secretary-general, he got Mr Chiam kicked out of the SDP and took control of the party. In the end, not only did the SDP fail to grow stronger, but it also went into decline. Dr Chee’s capabilities are evident for all to see.
The biggest problem with him is that he likes to resort to rumour-mongering in order to achieve his political agenda. Abandoned by his own comrades and the people of Singapore, Dr Chee is now politically bankrupt.
What is funny is that some Western media and ignorant political commentators still like to treat Dr Chee as some kind of a model figure for the opposition in Singapore.
This commentary appeared in Taiwan’s Chinese-language China Times on Nov 6. Translated by Terence Tan.