In the televised forum last night, the first topic that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong spoke on was the political system. He was responding to a question which asked if the PAP accepted that the opposition in Singapore had the good of the nation at heart.
Mr Lee jumped right in pointing out the distinction between opposition parties that “work within our system and play a constructive role” (emphasis added) and opposition that wants “to pull down the system and bring it to disrepute”. He added that the PAP treats these opposition parties differently.
No prizes for guessing who the “constructive” opposition parties and who the “destructive” ones are.
To be sure, this sentiment is not new. Mr Lee Kuan Yew had long tried to make the point that while Messrs Low Thia Kiang and Chiam See Tong were constructive, Dr Chee Soon Juan and the late J B Jeyaretnam were destructive – and had to be demolished.
Many Singaporeans who read no further than the SPH newspapers and watch nothing else other than MediaCorp programmes often buy into this propaganda – that the SDP is out to bring down Singapore while other opposition parties are constructive.
Note that the question asked if the PAP accepted that the opposition had the good of the nation at heart. Mr Lee jumped to the assumption that the questioner referred to the political system which the PAP had put in place.
In other words he had, quite deliberately, conflated Singapore with the PAP. If the two are the same, then any opposition party wanting to defeat the PAP system would also be pulling down Singapore. Now what Singaporean would want to bring down her own country or, for that matter, support a party with such intentions?
In framing the issue thusly, the PAP is effectively ensuring that it remains in power in perpetuity. Yes, the opposition may criticise it (after all, no system is perfect) but everyone should accept that the PAP is Singapore and Singapore is PAP which also means that no one should work to defeat the PAP.
Mr Lee openly stated that there were opposition parties that “work within our system”. The SDP proudly admits that we are not one of those parties. The reason is simple as it is clear: Singapore is not the PAP.
Quite the contrary. The Singapore Democrats want to replace the PAP system with the one laid out for us in our nation’s Constitution, one where elections are genuinely free and fair (unlike the one that presently exists), where the media is free and pluralistic, and where the legal system is independent.
To work within its system is to acknowledge that the PAP’s policies are essentially good for Singapore. The SDP does not accept this premise. The structure and direction of our economy, the treatment of our poor and elderly, and the monetary reward our ministers lavish on themselves do not benefit our nation.
Indeed, it must be said – and repeated – that it is only when the PAP system is stopped that Singapore will progress and develop.
The folly is to accept Mr Lee’s claim that only opposition parties that work within his party’s system are constructive.
Readers of this website will testify that the SDP has been at the forefront of making alternative policies that address the problems that Singaporeans face, policies like reducing the GST, employing Singaporeans first, cutting down class size in our schools, etc.
The PM may not agree with what we propose. But that’s very different from telling voters that certain parties are out to pull the country down.