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Does this look like a picture of criminals? It will when the PAP Government is done with mum and papa. This is because both Suraya and Jufri have been charged, together with 16 other activists, for participating in an assembly and procession without a permit on 15 Mar 08.
But the young couple has won the admiration of the Singapore Democrats and many Singaporeans. How many couples with three lovely children actually find the courage to stand up for Singapore? And we don’t mean just mouthing jingles in August.
So why did Suraya and Jufri join in the protest outside Parliament House?
“The pressure of inflation is one of the main reasons that drove me to join the TBT campaign,” explains Jufri. “I am asking the government to hear the citizens’ call for the reduction of prices of daily necessities such as electricity bills and commodities.”
What about mummy?
“With three young children it is not easy for me to be an activist as I have to juggle almost everything in life. And now, it is even more stressful for me after being charged for illegal assembly and procession,” Suraya relates.
While Jufri was arrested and escorted to the waiting police van, Suraya was in the background with the children. The youngest, aged 2, was in the stroller. But that didn’t stop the ever-so-full-of-integrity PAP Government from prosecuting her as well.
So what will she tell her kids when she attends court this Friday?
“I will tell them that I did all these for Singapore’s future and also for our family’s,” intoned the brave mother. “My children will be the activists of the next generation.”
Jufri agrees. Like any husband and father he does not want to see anything happen to his family. “But for the sake of securing a better future for my kids, I did what I did and I have no regrets!”
“By the way,” he adds, “the PAP doesn’t scare me!”
And neither, apparently, of the officers in blue. Jufri recalled that he did not feel fear when the police dragged him away. His mind was focused on his family: “I was just upset that I had promised my children that I would take them to the movies. I could feel their disappointment.”
But Jufri has little to be concerned about with a wife as clear-minded and straightforward as Suraya who says that she is committed to a democratic Singapore because she believes that “if we work hand in hand, we will have a better future for Singapore, especially on human rights issues.”
She believes that there is a lot more support for the opposition, but that fear is preventing Singaporeans from expressing that support. “Malays say lembu cucuk hidung — cows that are pulled by the nose — a saying meant for those who are forced to follow orders and cannot express their own free will.”
Jufri prefers to look to the the future. He hopes and prays in 5 to 10 years’ time to see “our Singapore become a nation that practices freedom and democracy, and equality among all colours of Singaporeans.”
“Let us go back to our Singapore Pledge that our children say everyday. Are we walking the talk? I just want to see that the pledge become a reality one day!”
Suraya and Jufri attended a workshop on Nonviolence a few years ago. They both watched CSJ’s message before prison and Freedom walk on Youtube and were greatly moved by what they saw in the videos. They have remained steadfast to the reform campaign ever since. Even in the intervening years, when the family grew from four to five, both democracy advocates remained active in helping with behind-the-scenes work.
So what message do they have for Singaporeans?
“Do what you think is right. Do not be paralysed by fear, as fear is what the oppressors have been instilling in us since day one. Do not let them take away what belongs to us. Remember, we were born free as any other peoples around the world!”
Fellow Singaporeans, come Friday Jul 11, stand up for Suraya and Jufri as they have so courageously stood up for you when they took part in the protest outside Parliament House. Come down to Subordinate Court No. 23 at 9 am, and give them the moral support that they need at this time.
Singaporeans like them are so rare and precious. Don’t look the other way again. Make time and effort so that we can all stand up for each other. It is unity that will give us the strength to overcome this oppression and usher in an era of hope.
Let’s do the right thing.