The SDP has long argued that democratic rights, which include the right to a genuinely free and fair election system where people choose their governments, is fundamental to our ability to safeguard our economic interests.
In other words in order to have a meaningful discussion on bread-and-butter issues and, more important, compel the PAP to carry out the people’s wishes on such matters, requires first and foremost the ability of citizens to sack the government if they deem it necessary.
When it comes to the vote, the election system here is anything but free and fair. The PAP tolerates the electorate’s right to vote in their parliamentary representatives up to a point beyond which they will change the constitution such as introducing the infamous GRC system or making the campaign period impossibly short or intimidating voters through HDB upgrading projects to keep themselves firmly in power.
The upcoming presidential elections is another case in point where candidates have to meet criteria drawn up to ensure that only a few people qualify. The PAP will then step in and decide which of these persons can contest the position.
The entire system is designed with one thing in mind: That the PAP has the sole right to political power in Singapore and the elections are to ensure that this remains the case even as the opposition is given token roles.
Apart from the right to freely choose our government, democracy also necessitates the people’s freedom to express their opinions and to assemble peacefully to articulate these opinions. It is because Singaporeans do not have these freedoms that the PAP is able to control the election system to ensure victory.
This is why after the elections, nothing has changed. Save for the musical chairs played in the cabinet everything else has stayed the same: HDB pricing-policy remains, the cost of living continues to go skyward, and our financial reserves are still managed in a non-transparent manner.
Why? Because while we are given the illusion that we practice democracy in Singapore, we have been managed as a electorate to think and accept that the system that benefits the PAP is actually good for Singapore and Singaporeans. The control of SPH and MediaCorps is done with one and only one objective, to numb the thinking process of the people into accepting the status quo.
All this has one important consequence: While the rich and the powerful continue to enjoy immense wealth, ordinary Singaporeans are put under tremendous strain from daily pressures just to make ends meet. This, in turn, affects our psychological and physical health. And what is happiness without health?
To add insult the Government treats healthcare like a commodity where the medical industry is run like any profit-making enterprise. As a result, the rich get treated with more urgency and greater care while the poor are left without adequate medial attention.
Below is a clip of an interview that filmmaker Mr Michael Moore did with long-time Labour MP and social activist Mr Tony Benn who talks about the need for democratic rights to secure our economic security so that we can lead secure and meaningful lives.