Competent, Constructive, Compassionate – Year in Review

December 26, 2012
Singapore Democrats

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Singapore Democrats

The SDP saw a meaningful year in 2012 as we pressed on in our campaign towards the general elections in 2016. It was a period of hard but gratifying work. We look back at some of the highlights.$CUT$

January

The year started off with the Democratsconducting a record-breaking six-hour walkabout at Sembawang, BukitPanjang, Yuhua, Holland and Tanjong Pagar constituencies. The SDPteam was well-received by the residents.

The Young Democrats (YD) organised agathering to talk football over lots of food. The get-together waspart of the party’s on-going programme to engage youths acrossSingapore to interest them in current affairs.

SDP Treasurer Dr Vincent Wijeysinghaspoke at the Young Guns Forum organised by NUS Political Association. Dr Wijeysingha outlined the prerequisites of a progressive societywhich were based on “principal freedoms” that emerged fromsocietal struggles in the past.

February

The SDP sent our condolences to thefamily of Dr Toh Chin Chye who passed away on 3 February 2012.

The party supported the Government’sproposals to build an eldercare centre in Woodlands and a block offlats for the aged at Toh Yi. This is because as our population ages,more and more elderly people will be in need of care and that carewill need to come from the communities where they reside.

We held a block party at Tanjong PagarGRC as well as launched our Shadow Budget that month.

March

The Women Democrats and friends cametogether to honour and celebrate the spirit of womanhood onInternational Women’s Day and to support the cause of developingwomen’s role in politics and activism in society.

The SDP pointed out the contradictionswithin the PAP when it came to the foreign-workers policy and withpublic housing for the poor.

Deputy Prime Minister and FinanceMinister Tharman Shanmugaratnam made his now infamous comment aboutfamilies earning $1,000 a month being able to buy a flat.

One of the biggest highlights of theyear was the launching of SDP’s healthcare paper. Our HealthcareAdvisory Panel comprising several medical doctors and healthcareprofessionals drew up an alternative plan, the first by an oppositionparty in Singapore.

The SDP Community Services and GroundOperations Units held yet another party, this time at the SembawangGRC to meet with residents.

Leaders and members of the SDPunderwent an intensive training seminar last week to develop theirleadership skills. This is the first time that the party has engageda professional trainer to do the job.

April

We wrote to the Town Councils andCommunity Clubs of the Sembawang, Holland-Bukit Timah, and TanjongPagar GRCs to hold town hall meetings for our healthcare plan. Theapplications were rejected.

We wrote to congratulate Daw Aung SanSuu Kyi following her historic landslide victory in a string ofby-elections held last week in Burma.

Nanyang Technological Universityeconomist Professor Lim Chong Yah is the latest to add hisvoice to the growing concern of income inequality in Singapore,reinforcing SDP’s message to narrow the wealth gap.

Continuing with our programme to reachout to our constituents, the party held another block party at theBukit Panjang estate.

May

We commemorated May Day with a rally atSpeakers’ Corner to honour workers for their contribution toSingapore’s economy and called for the introduction of a minimum wagelaw.

Dr Chee Soon Juan was invited to speakat the Oslo Freedom Forum in Oslo, Norway. However, he barred fromtravelling due to his bankruptcy and had to deliver his speech via avideo.

The Hougang by-election was called andthe Democrats announced that we would not contest it because ourprime concern was that the constituency remained in the hands of theOpposition.

June

We held another block party for YuhuaSMC residents at Jurong East Street 24 but was prevented from using apavilion by the PAP-held Town Council and had to hold it a nearbyfood centre.

Following our distribution of flyers,SDP was advised that residents are prohibited under the TownCouncil’s Rules and Regulations from gathering at void decks if theevent is organised by a political party.

Leaders of Singapore’s social andpolitical scene gathered at Hong Lim Green to commemorate the 25thanniversary of Operation Spectrum in 1987.

June marked a sad occasion forSingapore with the demise of Dr Lim Hock Siew. The SDP expressed ourcondolences to the family of Dr Lim who stood tall among his peers ashe fought for a more compassionate and caring Singapore.

A team of journalists from the UnitedStates made special alterations to their packed schedule to meet withSDP leaders Dr Chee Soon Juan and Dr Vincent Wijeysingha.

We continued to work the ground in ourRoad to 2016 campaign as party members visited the Sembawang andBukit Panjang constituencies.

July

The Women Democrats conducted a forum,Holistic Health for Women, to provide health information to women andto continue to call attention to women’s issues in Singapore.

The revamped our website with a newfeatures and more capabilities to more effectively bring Singaporeansnews and analysis about our party and national issues. SDP websitealso announced its mobile services.

The Singapore Democrats welcome theGovernment’s decision to review the mandatory death penalty againstdrug couriers.

Secretary-General Chee Soon Juan wroteto Yale-NUS president Professor Pericles Lewis, pointing out thecontradiction of promising academic freedom while banning politicalparties from engaging students on campus.

August

Dr Chee launched his bookDemocratically Speaking and announced that he would use the proceedsof the sales to pay off the $30,000 that he offered to Mr Lee KuanYew and Mr Goh Chok Tong in settlement of his bankruptcy case.

Dr Wong Wee Nam invited Minister forHealth Mr Gan Kim Yong to discuss the healthcare system with the SDPhealthcare panel as part of the “national conversation”.Not surprisingly, Mr Gan turned it down.

We launched, our monthly open house tobe held on the last Friday of every month, to meet our friends andsupporters.

Members of the SDP were on hand togreet Ghim Moh residents at our block party.

SDP Secretary-General Dr Chee Soon Juandelivered the party’s response to PM Lee Hsien Loong’s National DayRally speech, saying that Singapore must avert a disaster broughtabout by the PAP’s immigration policy.

September

The Singapore Democrats had gatheredfor our annual retreat to re-group and re-charge. The three-dayaffair saw discussions on how we could further iprove ourcommunications, party development and fund-raising capabilities.

The party organised a historic Malayforum that energised many in our Malay community who have said thatthey want to speak up and be part of the national conversation.

The Official Assignee replied to DrChee Soon Juan that Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Mr Goh Chok Tong have bothindicated that they “have no objection” to the offer of$30,000 as settlement of the matter.

As news spread about Dr Chee SoonJuan trying to raise the amount, Singaporeans came forwardto buy Dr Chee’s books and donate. The Discharge CSJ Fund announcedthat it has managed to raise the $30,000 in ten days!

Civil society and the SDP came togetherto discuss the future direction of Singapore and to provide a counterconversation to the one held by the PAP Government at SDP’sNational Conversation Roundtable.

October

The SDP celebrated this year’smid-Autumn Festival with residents at a block party at Tanglin Halt.

We also expressed our support of MdmVellama in her effort to seek a court declaration that by-electionsare not an unfettered discretion of the prime minister to exercisebut a right of voters to demand.

Continuing with our groundwork as wepush towards the next general elections, Singapore Democrats held ablock party for residents at Holland Drive.

This month saw the Young Democratsorganise our second futsal tournament. This tournament saw theparticipation of our fellow opposition parties, namely, PKMS, SPP andWP.

November

We launched another landmark policypaper, Housing A Nation: Holistic Policies For Affordable Homes. Thepaper was widely discussed by Singaporeans especially on our proposalto introduce Non-Open Market flats.

We also invited the Minister forNational Development, Mr Khaw Boon Wan, to debate public housing inSingapore. He declined.

The Singapore Democrats continued ourground campaign conducted a walkabout at various food centres andmarkets in Clementi and West Coast estates adjoining theHolland-Bukit Timah GRC.

Members andvolunteers forsook our SDP uniforms and donned our aprons at theKampung Kook-Off, serving up a storm at the Fort Canning Centre toraise funds for the party’s operations and activities.

Dr Chee spoke at Yale University afterhis bankruptcy was annulled, allowing him to travel overseas. Hechallenged Yale-NUS to respect the freedom of its students inSingapore.

December

Transport Minister Mr Lui Tuck Yew saidthat bus fares may have to go up in order to accommodate wageincreases of bus drivers. The SDP made it clear that such a move wasunacceptable.

SDP said that the Prime Minister cannotavoid calling for a by-election in Punggol East SMC following theresignation of Mr Michael Palmer after he announced that he had anextra-marital affair.

The party took a strong stand againstthe Government for turning away 40 Rohingya refugees whom were adriftat see when they fled their country’s persecution.