ND message critique – the SDP’s response

August 19, 2009
Singapore Democrats

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Singapore Democrats

We note the critique of Ms Tng Hui Yi and Mr Andrew Loh of the SDP’s National Day Message (watch video here) at The Online Citizen. It is apparent that much thought went into the review and the criticisms were considered ones. We welcome them.

We note that much of the critique dwelled on the substantiveness of the arguments, or the lack of it, rather than on the presentation of the message. Some of these observations are valid and will be taken on board in future presentations.


Unlike a speech delivered live to an audience, however, the attention span of viewers on an Internet video is limited. Our experience has been that a longer video filled with too many statistics and charts will attract less interest among viewers.

Detail and substance sometimes need to be sacrificed for brevity. This was a hard decision to make but after much deliberation and advice we opted for a shorter but more watchable format.

The nearly 5,000 viewers that the video has attracted to date seems to have vindicated our choice. Still, we accept that there are others who see it differently.

But what the video misses out on in detail as far as our policy positions are concerned is more than made up for in our website (for example see here, here, and here ) and our publications (SDP’s Economic Report 1995; First World…For Whom 2002; Your Future, My Faith, Our Freedom, chapters 2-5; and A Nation Cheated, chapters 8-10). We encourage readers to take a closer look at these.

The reviewers also expressed a difference with our views on the issues themselves, to wit the cause of income disparity in Singapore, the foreign talent policy, and HDB scheme. We do not want to detract from the spirit of the review and will therefore take up these matters at another time.

One last point: The reason why the message was carried by four ladies is because women are woefully underrepresented in politics in Singapore. National Day messages are too important to leave only to men.

Just so that there are no doubts: The leadership of the SDP, from the Chairman on down, is one – in form and substance – with the video presentation. All of us in the party are happy to accept the brickbats as well as bouquets from one and all. In this regard, we want to thank Ms Tng and Mr Loh for their effort.

In the end, let us remember that criticism is like pain to a body. They are the last things that we look for but the body (politic) suffers if we ignore them.

Now if only the PAP can see this.