The Today newspaper contacted the SDP and wanted our reaction to the Workers’ Party’s statement that it was not ready to govern at this point in time. The newspaper asked the Singapore Democrats the following questions:
“Ms Sylvia Lim of Workers’ Party mentioned that WP was not ready to govern at this point in time. Do you think the Opposition collectively is able to form a coalition government? Why or why not? Going by past elections, the ruling party could use the Opposition’s comments (about not being ready to govern) to warn voters against voting for the Opposition.
“For instance, should there be a ‘freak’ result and the Opposition would have to form a government even if it is not ready. How could the Opposition counter such an argument by the ruling party?”
Neo Chai Chin
Dear Neo Chai Chin,
The question of whether the opposition is ready to govern is a red herring. Didn’t Mr Lee Kuan Yew say that if there was a ‘freak’ election, he would call in the army?
For any opposition to become government the election system would have to be free and fair. We don’t have an independent elections commission. Our Elections Department works from under the Prime Minister’s Office.
If that is not enough the entire Singapore Press Holdings, which publishes all our newspapers, is chaired by former deputy prime minister and PAP card-carrying member, Dr Tony Tan. All these publications do one thing very well – sing the praises of the PAP. Everyday. Every year. For the past half-a-century.
And didn’t Mr Lee Hsien Loong admit himself at the last general elections that he would have to buy his support and fix the opposition?
Under such a system, is it even sane to talk about the opposition taking over as government?
The entire system has been designed to prevent the opposition from getting a foothold in Parliament, let alone taking over as government.
Singaporeans, including those in the opposition camp, must not fall into the mindset that the opposition has trouble matching the PAP in terms of our candidates and our ideas. It has been hard propaganda pushed by the ruling party through the mass media that the PAP is such a good party and only it has the wherewithal to govern Singapore.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The PAP has, through the decades, systematically crushed the opposition by detaining its leaders without trial, prosecuting us and suing us in court.
We had medical doctors, top lawyers, a former judge, academics, a solicitor-general, trade union leaders, newspaper editors, and writers in our ranks.
We had Lim Chin Siong.
Pound for pound, the opposition matched – and even surpassed – the PAP in talent and competence.
It was only after the ruthless and sustained crackdown that the opposition is in the state that it is today.
It is, therefore, not right for leaders of today’s opposition parties to talk as if the PAP is of such high quality and that the opposition is unable to match this standard that we are unable to take over the governance of Singapore.
As for the SDP, despite everything thrown at us, we continue to come up with constructive ways to take our country forward. In this regard, we take no back seat to the PAP. Indeed, our alternative ideas are superior.
We are confident that if our proposed programmes, now blacked out by the mass media, are given fair and adequate coverage Singaporeans will support us over the PAP.
Evidence of this can be found on the Internet where the SDP’s news and views are not censored. In cyberspace information flows freely and there is fair competition of ideas. In such an environment the SDP consistently gets more support than the PAP.
Chee Soon Juan
Singapore Democratic Party