My parents will be going for an overseas trip over the National Day long weekend. My dad, an avid follower of the National Day Parade (NDP) on TV, asked if I could help him record the event while they were away.
I politely replied that I would probably be out the whole day with my baby daughter on National Day.
My dad then conjured up the idea of my watching the Parade at home with my daughter so that I could tape the procession for him.
I was torn between obliging my dad and standing firm on my decision not to watch the NDP because it is a PAP thing. I said to him: “I’m sorry but I don’t think I want to sit through the propaganda show.”
Yes, that is how I have felt for the past 28 years since I became politically aware. I have nothing against the spectacular fireworks and the well-choreographed placard displays. In fact, I was privileged enough to be involved in the NDP when I was serving my National Service.
What actually turned me off is the sight of the PAP’s MPs turning up in their all-white attire. It makes you wonder if this is an occasion to celebrate our nation’s birthday or the PAP’s founding anniversary. As if this were not enough, the ruling party also provides a contingent of its placard-carrying members for the march past.
Then there are the National Trades Union Congress and the Peoples’ Association – both organisations unabashedly pro-PAP.
The PAP utilizes the NDP as a political tool to equate itself with our nation. The less informed, students and the politically apathetic will undoubtedly fall prey to this propaganda. The PAP has continually blurred the lines between the party and the State through the use of the mass media, and brainwashed the populace into accepting this notion for the past five decades.
Till today, many Singaporeans still subscribe to the idea that opponents of the PAP are “unpatriotic”, and if you go against the Party, it means that you are opposing Singapore as well.
This reminds me of a conversation I had with a close friend when both of us spoke about our plans if war should ever break out in Singapore. My friend conceded that he would take the first flight out and seek shelter overseas.
When I shared that I would defend our sovereignty till the last drop of my blood, my friend was very surprised. “I thought you are against the PAP. Why should you stay and defend the country?” he wondered.
Simple, I replied, the Singapore is not PAP and PAP is not Singapore. I may not see eye to eye with the PAP but that does not make me any less loyal than any other Singaporean. My friends and family can easily testify to my love for my homeland, regardless of the fact that I do not follow the NDP on TV.
Happy 47th birthday, Singapore!
Bryan Lim is a member of the SDP’s Central Executive Committee and Head of the Ground Operations Unit.