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There is much unhappiness that hasresulted from the sale of Town Council computer systems to AIM, aprivate company owned by former PAP MPs. In responding to critics, DrTeo Ho Pin, the coordinating MP for PAP-held Town Councils, issued astatement which has raised more questions.$CUT$
The attempt to clarify his party’sposition over the matter has backfired. The situation is exacerbatedwith Mr Lee Hsien Loong now taking Mr Alex Au to task by sending theblogger a letter to cease and desist.
(Acting Minister for Manpower has also demanded, and received, an apology from Dr Vincent Wijeysingha over the latter’s posting of an article on the SMRT bus drivers episode.)
This is not the way to deal with thesituation.
The Government must be patient and gothat extra mile to explain matters of public interest in a calm andrational manner without resorting to legal action.
The best way to respond to critics isto present reasoned arguments based on factual statements. Thesearguments may have to be repeated over and over. But if they arecredible and factual, Singaporeans, being a reasonable people, willeventually come to the right conclusion. The use of lawsuits willonly stymie the debate and stoke the ire.
In this regard, Mr Lee has much tolearn from US President Barack Obama. Mr Obama has been accused of nottelling the truth about his place of birth, that he was not born inAmerica. He went to the trouble of producing his birth certificateand, yet, his opponents, for years, continued to question hisbirthplace. President Obama fought his critics with facts, not threats.Today, his critics have been discredited and their accusationsrelegated to the irrational and the ridiculous.
Similarly, the SDP has had muchcriticism leveled at us for many years – some justified, othersquite over the top. Our response has been one of listening anddiscernment, to separate those who make salient points (from which wecan learn) from those who are misinformed.
To those with whom we disagree, wepersuade with rational and reasoned arguments. If we do a good enoughjob, we win the argument and, more importantly, the support andrespect of the people. For those, who cannot or will not concur withus, we accept the parting of minds.
Education, persuasion, and acceptanceof differences – in other words, a mature and First World politicalculture – is the way forward, not defamation suits.
We need a new politics in Singapore,and we cannot achieve this with the old PAP way.