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The Straits Times heavily edited Dr Chee Soon Juan’s reply to a Forum writer who had criticised Dr Chee’s confrontational style of politics while extolling the virtues of the PAP system.
In reply Dr Chee wrote that the Singapore Democrats are exercising our rights guaranteed under the Constitution which the PAP Government has illegally removed. How is this confrontational? It is like the robber entering your home and cleaning you out of all your possessions. When you demand that he returns you your property, the robber turns around and says that you are being confrontational.
In fact it is the PAP that had tortured and sued its opponents. (These were taken out from the letter.) How is this not confrontational?
In addition, Dr Chee pointed out the failings of the PAP which the Straits Times also edited out (see below). The forum writer, Mr Patrick Tan, had stated the PAP’s achievements to support his views. In response Dr Chee listed out the failings of the PAP to substantiate his position. But the Straits Times Forum editor, Mr Yap Koon Hong, removed them.
Dr Chee had mentioned the losses incurred by GIC and Temasek, the unbridled influx of foreigners, the rise in HDB prices, and the ministers’ salaries. All these were removed from the letter.
Mr Yap even changed the title of the letter. Dr Chee’s version was “Yes, let’s go with a system that works for Singapore“. But the editor changed it to “PAP Just As Confrontational, Replies Chee”
This does not reflect what Dr Chee is saying which is that how can exercising one’s constitutional rights be considered confrontational? The way that the Straits Times entitled the reply was that Dr Chee was admitting that he, too, is confrontational. The spin is so underhanded.
Obviously, these are matters which the PAP is clearly nervous about and doesn’t want to engage the SDP on, especially with elections coming up.
The uncensored version of Dr Chee’s letter:
PAP Just As Confrontational, Replies Chee
The Straits Time
15 Apr 10
[Parts in bold were removed]
Mr Patrick Tan’s idea that my style of politics is a confrontational one not suited for Singapore is most ironic. (Confrontational model not ideal for S’pore)
Let’s check the facts: The People’s Action Party (PAP) imprisoned [and tortured] its Barisan Socialis opponents in the 1960s. This they did with the cooperation of the British colonial government, using the Internal Security Act (ISA) – a law originally introduced by a Western democracy.
[The PAP uses lawsuits to financially cripple the opposition using defamation laws derived from England.]
Mr Lee Kuan Yew uses imagery of knuckle-dusters on critics like Dr Catherine Lim and meeting the late Mr J B Jeyaretnam in cul-de-sacs with hatchets. Such PAP actions and words are, apparently to the writer, not confrontational politics.
But when I speak up and organise to claim back our rights of freedom of speech and assembly guaranteed under Article 14 of our Constitution, I am being confrontational.
I agree it does not matter what system we adopt as long as it works for Singaporeans. The question is: Is the current arrangement working for Singaporeans?
[The people cannot hold the PAP Government accountable when it lost $140 billion in 2008 through bad investments by the GIC and Temasek Holdings in Western banks such as Merrill Lynch, Citigroup and UBS. That’s $50,000 per citizen that went down the drain.
Neither can we stop the PAP from allowing foreign workers into the country by the millions and who take away jobs from Singaporeans, suppress wages and contribute to the skyrocketing of HDB prices.
Under the PAP system, we are also helpless when the prime minister pays himself $3 million a year while working Singaporeans queue up by the thousands to get free food at temples or become homeless because they cannot afford paying their loans for their HDB flats. Many end up committing suicide.
Because of the high cost of bringing up children and a stressful environment, young couples put off having children.]
With the exodus of Singaporeans leaving for other countries, we have a serious brain drain. Productivity is at an all-time low. Is Mr Tan sure the PAP system works for Singapore and enables us ‘to achieve its best potential’?
Experts have repeatedly warned that without opening up the current system, Singapore will not be able to innovate and develop an entrepreneurial culture to compete with the rest of the world that is racing ahead.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology economics professor Huang Yasheng – an Asian – visited Singapore recently and pointed out that the ‘entrepreneurial culture is about challenging the authorities, questioning the existing ways of doing businesses, moving away from the routines and norms. It’s about the unconventional, rebellious and diverse’.
Yes, Mr Tan is right, let us not get bogged down by whether it is Western or Asian style of politics. Let us go with what works for Singapore and our future.
Right now, the PAP system of authoritarianism and top-down control looks decidedly obsolete for our future needs. It is time for change.
Chee Soon Juan (Dr)
Singapore Democratic Party