What has politics to do with human rights?

Chee Siok Chin

Many people have associated the SDP with democracy, human rights and civil rights. Some have denigrated us for promoting these values, others have lauded us. Regardless – that’s what we will continue to do. We’re proud that we are bringing the language, the discourse into the political arena in Singapore.

However, it’s also important to understand why we do so. Many think that politics and human rights are separate issues. They are not. They are inherently linked. Human rights is good social policy. Policies are made to better the lives of people. They are made to benefit the citizenry.

Human rights is about the right to enjoy these sound policies when they are enacted. For anyone to say that politics does not mix with civil and human rights is to say that politics is only about power and self-preservation. That is not what the SDP is about.

Because human rights have always been at the heart of what our party stands for, and are reflected in all that we do and propose to Singaporeans, we believe that time will show that we have set the country on its proper course. It certainly hasn’t been easy, but nothing good achieved ever is. And that’s okay, because we’re content to know that as pioneers of social justice, our reward is to know that we have given of ourselves to improve the lot of our fellow Singaporeans.

Rewards of power and prestige mean little compared with a healthy society, where the poor and elderly are properly taken care of, where children grow up in a society that nurtures creativity, where one’s whole life is not in service of re-paying huge mortgage and absurdly high COE, where the quality of a happy life, a good life is the true objective.

So when people look at our social policies, policies that cry out for a better health care system, more creative schools, lower housing costs, a better transportation system, workers’ rights, and civil liberties for all – in short – a higher quality of life that reaffirms the basic rights of everyone living in Singapore, it is about human rights.

Our words are consistent with our deeds. Our deeds are consistent with our policies. Our policies are consistent with our commitment to enriching the lives of those who call themselves Singaporeans.

And that’s what the SDP has always been and will always be about – a party that stands up for the rights of our fellow Singaporeans.

Chee Siok Chin is a member of SDP’s Central Executive Committee and head of its Training and Development Unit.

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