On 16 February 2011, the Singapore Democratic Party published its Shadow Budget 2011. Never before in the history of the nation has a similar event occurred. Our budget proposed, in considerable and costed detail, programmes that would benefit the economy and people of Singapore.
It offers an agenda for radical restructuring of our economic and social fundamentals to facilitate an enduring industrial structure which will sustain our economic life in the long term.
We also set out proposals to benefit the day to day lives of the people through a cost-efficient programme of support.
I write to ask why the
Straits Times has not run a comprehensive review of the SDP’s Budget.
Your reporter, Mr Kor Kian Beng recently wrote:
The [opposition] parties must step up candidate recruitment and produce well-researched alternative policy proposals to offer in their election manifestos.
More recently, your Forum page published letters calling on the Opposition to come up with alternative ideas:
They should recruit well-educated, qualified, capable, determined and dedicated members, and come up with better programmes and manifestoes than the PAP.” – Opposition should buck up, Pavithran Vidyadharan, 2 March.
As Singapore matures to a First World nation, we need the opposition parties to mature too. We want strong thinkers with alternative views…” – Don’t oppose for the sake of opposition, Steven Thng, 28 February.
Long before these observers expressed their views, the Singapore Democrats had already published our manifesto. We then launched our alternative economic programme, It’s About You, towards the end of last year.
Two days before the Finance Minister announced the Government’s Budget in Parliament, we launched Shadow Budget 2011: Empowering the Nation.
To date, however, the Straits Times has been very reserved in giving these alternative ideas publicity.
And yet you continue to print comments calling on opposition parties to come up with alternatives as if the SDP’s publications did not exist.
Why not give the Shadow Budget that my team and I drew up more attention? Surely a historic document, coming immediately before the government’s budget, and embodying a framework in line with international (and domestic) thinking deserves more than a brief one-time report?
As the Budget Debate in Parliament enters its second week, this would be a good time to highlight our proposals and contrast them with the Government’s. Your writers and Forum contributors can then decide which proposals make the better case.
The lifeblood of democracy is information. With the general elections imminent, the media has an important duty to present to the nation all the alternatives so that voters can choose wisely.
Through the years the PAP has criticised the Singapore Democrats for opposing for the sake of opposition, even though we have published a range of analyses and proposals scrutinising problems that beset our society and, more crucially, taking pains to propose viable alternatives.
We are willing to subject our ideas to scrutiny and open debate in the marketplace of ideas. Only good can come of such an examination. The country and the people are the ultimate beneficiaries.
Yet there has been almost total silence in your newspaper, abetting the PAP assertion that a viable alternative to itself does not exist. You bear a profound responsibility of service to your countrymen and women, no more so than at this time.
Dr Vincent Wijeysingha
Singapore Democratic Party
Han Fook Kwang, Editor
Ivan Fernandez, Bertha Henson & Janadas Devan, Associate Editors