Be silent no more

March 14, 2008
Singapore Democrats

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The late S Rajaratnam and former deputy prime minister, once recounted what Lee Kuan Yew taught: “If you want to break someone’s window, tell him that you are going to burn down his house. So when you really break his window, he’ll be so grateful that he’ll thank you for it.”

So when our Home Affairs Minister tells us that he would consider liberalising Speakers’ Corner to allow limited forms of demonstrations, do we celebrate?

(Or, for that matter, when he says that he will give the public a “full account” of Mas Selamat’s escape when he won’t answer questions by the public, should we commend him?)

Our right to speak and assemble peacefully cannot be taken away by the Government. We own that right and anyone who takes it away has robbed you. Let us never forget that.

And when the government robs you of the one thing that makes you what you are – human, you don’t whine and you don’t beg. You go out and take it back.

Through the years, the PAP has stripped us of all dignity and value. It tells us that it feeds us and gives us a nice airport. In return, it wants us to bow our heads and be silent.

Be silent even as it ridicules us and lies to us.

Be silent even as it bribes us to look away when our elderly have to work when their bodies can take no more.

Be silent when the poor live on biscuits and Milo, and needy families get evicted from their public housing.

Be silent when they take our hard-earned wages and refuse to give it back to us or tell us what they do with it.

Be silent when they engorge their bank accounts with our money and then tell us that they are worth even more.

A people silent is a people without a soul. And people without a soul is life’s saddest tragedy.

When God breathed life into us he wanted us to live it, not pawn it.

The nay-sayers and the agents of autocracy will try to wring every ounce of hope left in you. They will try to demoralise you with their “be realistic” lectures. They will try to instill fear in you. Don’t let them.

If you do, they would have silenced you yet again.

Come Saturday let us, with dignity and peaceful resolve, choose not to be silent any longer. It is not complicated. Just by being there with the rest of us who have pledged to not sign the Faustian pact, you will make a difference.

Every once in a while, an opportunity comes along and calls us to demonstrate our courage and to do the right thing. That opportunity is Saturday, 15 Mar. Come.

“You live in such a way that you cannot claim a single thing as your own; and it would seem that you consider yourselves lucky to be loaned your property, your families, and your very lives.

All this havoc, this misfortune, this ruin, descends upon you not from alien foes, but from the one enemy whom you yourselves render as powerful as he is…

He who thus domineers over you has only two eyes, only two hands…he has indeed nothing more than the power that you confer upon him to destroy you.

Where has he acquired enough eyes to spy upon you, if you do not provide them yourselves? How can he have so many arms to beat you with, if he does not borrow them from you?…What could he do to you if you yourselves did not connive with the thief who plunders you, if you were not accomplices of the murderer who kills you, if you were not traitors to yourselves?…
Resolve to serve no more, and you are at once freed.

I do not ask that you place hands upon the tyrant to topple him over, but simply that you support him no longer; then you will behold him, like a great Colossus whose pedestal has been pulled away, fall of his own weight and break into pieces.”

– √Čtienne de la Bo√©tie, 1552