Two significant elections are now behind us. The PAP continues to be firmly entrenched in power and its ways remain unchanged. What does the opposition do? If the past is any guide, we will go into hibernation again until January 2016.
In the meantime policies continue the way the PAP demands them and the people suffer them in silence. For decades this has been the pattern and Singaporeans have come to accept it as normal as we accept the fact that the sun rises in the east.
This is not normal – at least not in democratic societies. Elections are when parties make promises and lay out their plans. The post-election period is when voters hold the governing party accountable for the promises made.
But how does the electorate do this when every avenue for public participation is cut off? It’s like buying a product and finding out that there is no way to contact the seller or manufacturer when the item turns out to be not what was advertised.
In a democratic system, a competent opposition should be getting into universities, factories, housing estates, etc talking with the people and discussing alternative ideas with them.
In Singapore, all this is closed to the opposition. Parties are banned from visiting university campuses, speaking to residents in open areas in housing estates is prohibited, and workers are not allowed to invite the opposition for debates and discussions. This is not democracy. Democracy means more than just casting a vote once in 5 years. It means holding the government accountable for its actions and promises in between elections.
Even during elections, campaign speeches are strictly limited to rallies. Speakers’ Corner is also off limits during the period. Such restriction serves only to stifle public discussion to the advantage of the PAP. It dumbs down society.
In the clip below, Mr Nick Clegg, now the British deputy prime minister, freely addresses voters during the 2010 elections in the UK:
Ths is DPM Nick Clegg again after the elections meeting with students whom he promised during his campaign that his party would cut university fees:
The PAP’s system of securing the vote and then suppressing everything else thereafter is archaic and not the way forward for a modern society. We need a change in the way politics is run in Singapore if we are going to remain viable as a nation in the years ahead.
For our part, the SDP will continue to work hard in between elections to engage the PAP and the people. We will not slumber during the “lull” period. We are working hard to raise the political consciousness of the people and to empower them.
To this end, we have planned an exciting calendar in the weeks and months ahead. Be it assisting needy families, organising football competitions to reach out to our youths, or coming up with alternative ideas we are determined to raise the quality of politics in Singapore.
In so doing, we hope to fulfill our promise as a competent, constructive and compassionate opposition party.