Stop pitting ethnic groups against each other

November 9, 2000
Singapore Democrats

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The SDP would like to ask Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong why the PAP sees the need to exert such suffocating control over civil society. The recent spat with the Association of Muslim Professionals (AMP) is just one example of the way the party continues to seek absolute control over the people.

The SDP has confidence in Singaporeans, whether they are Chinese, Malay, Indians, or Eurasians, that they are able to assess what their needs are and to assert their views to the Government while ensuring that the rights of their neighbors and fellow citizens are not disregarded or trampled upon.

In a democratic society, diversity in views should be encouraged as this is a source of strength. The varied nature of the multitude of ethnic groups in the US has been a key to the strength and prosperity of that county. In a similar way, Singapore can and must benefit from our racial and religious mix.

This can only be achieved, however, if the PAP ceases its tactics to pit one racial group against another. In this instance, just because the PAP wants its Malay MPs to continue to dominate the Malay community, it should not scare the other ethnic groups that their rights will be threatened just because Singaporean Malays voice their problems and concerns. It used the same tactic against Mr Tang Liang Hong when he spoke up for the Chinese-speaking community in the last general elections. Also, this sclerotic mentality that the PAP is always right and the people always wrong when it comes to contentious issues must change. The world is evolving and so must the out-dated, authoritarian style of the ruling party.

These divide-and-conquer and bully tactics employed by the Government to subjugate the people serve only to polarize and disunite the citizens even more. If the PAP is not checked, the problem will come back and haunt Singapore in the future-ironically, often in unexpected and chaotic ways. It is better for the Government to trust the people that they will act in open and mature ways to solve problems within their own communities as well as in the wider society to maintain democratic discipline and harmony in Singapore.

Chee Soon Juan
Secretary-General