The PAP system works? Then why are so many leaving?

May 19, 2010
Singapore Democrats

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Singapore Democrats

The Straits Times recently published a host of letters attacking Dr Chee Soon Juan. When the SDP secretary-general replied, Forum Editor Mr Yap Koon Hong said that Dr Chee had unfairly cast aspersions on the integrity of the newspaper and said that unless he retracted his statements, the Straits Times will not publish the replies (see here and here).

Below are the first two of the six replies by Dr Chee that the Straits Times has refused to publish. Read and see for yourselves the real reason why the newspaper censored the letters. 

The PAP system works? Then why are so many S’poreans leaving?

Mr Patrick Tan says that Singapore should not have to apologise for the PAP’s authoritarian system (Why PAP’s politics works for me, ST, 17 Apr 2010) because that system transformed “Singapore from a swampy fishing village to a modern metropolis.”

He has his history mixed up. Singapore was a swampy fishing village when Stamford Raffles first arrived in 1819, not when the PAP took over in 1959.

By the time the PAP came along, there was already an efficient civil service in place, trade was roaring, and entrepreneurs like Tan Kah Kee, Tan Lark Sye, and Loke Yew were already blazing the business trail.

The writer also asserts that without the PAP Singapore “would have disintegrated or become a communist state.” Let us not get into conjecture about what might have been because his guess carries no more weight than the next person’s.

Instead let us base our discussion on what is happening presently and what will happen in the future. In this regard, the data is a lot less wholesome than what Mr Tan and the PAP would have us believe. Consider the following:

In 2007, a survey found that more than 50 percent of younger Singaporeans indicated that they would emigrate overseas if given a chance. And get this – 37 percent indicated that they did not feel patriotic.

Every month, about 1,000 Singaporeans are applying for permanent residence elsewhere.

In February 2010 when New Zealand opened up its doors to Singaporeans for immigration, more than 3,500 registered – in just three weeks.

Even the children of cabinet ministers have left Singapore. One of Prime Minister’s Lee Hsien Loong’s sons has indicated that he may not be returning to Singapore when he finishes his studies there.

Mr Goh Chok Tong, when he was prime minister, lamented: “If our best who qualify to work for world-class institutions are not prepared to come back, how can we make our institutions world-class?”

Does this sound like a system that has worked for Singapore?

More importantly, are there indications that the PAP is changing for the better? The Internal Security Act is still in place, the mass media is still totally under the control of the Government, and the Elections Department still works from under the Prime Minister’s Office.

The wrapper may have changed but the package is still the obsolete authoritarian system that will retard Singapore’s progress.

We are not looking for the PAP to become “more open to listening.” We want the PAP to hold genuinely free and fair elections, release its control of the media, and respect Singaporeans’ right to free speech and peaceful assembly. In other words, abide by the Singapore Constitution.

The people’s of Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, New Zealand, Ireland – just to name a few societies – are embracing freedom and democracy to ready their economies for the competition ahead.

Singaporeans, on the other hand, continue to be scared into fearful submission that democracy and freedom will lead to chaos. This tragic scaremongering will lead Singapore down the road to ruin.

Chee Soon Juan
Secretary-General
Singapore Democratic Party

Read Mr Patrick Tan’s letter, (1) Why PAP’s politics works for me, here.


PAP needs to be confronted – with the truth

Mr Joshua Selvakumar protests that the PAP had to be confrontational in the days around independence. (Politics of confrontation redundant now, ST, 17 Aug 2010) Unfortunately, I was not just referring to the 1960s and 70s when I talk about the PAP’s confrontational stance.

I had mentioned the treatment of Dr Catherine Lim and the late Mr J B Jeyaretnam, neither if whom were involved in politics surrounding independence. And yet, they were both threatened in the most violent of manner with imageries of knuckle-dusters and hatchets, weapons commonly used by gangsters.

And was it not as recent as the 2006 general elections that the prime minister himself had said that he had to spend all his time to “fix” opposition MPs if more were elected?

His father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, even said that the army would have to be called in should a “freak election” occur.

Mr Selvakumar writes that a “selfless Lee Kuan Yew” stepped to the fore to eradicate the communists. De-classified documents in London are beginning to reveal a rather different picture of Mr Lee. Lord Selkirk, then the British Commissioner in colonial Singapore, told his superiors in London that:

Lee is probably very much attracted to the idea of destroying his political opponents. It should be remembered that there is behind all this a very personal aspect…he claims he wishes to put back in detention the very people who were released at his insistence – people who are intimate acquaintances, who have served in his government, and with whom there is a strong sense of political rivalry which transcends ideological differences.

Mr Selvakumar concludes that the “PAP need not be confronted today” because we have “a system that is already working well.”

Perhaps, he should tell that to the homeless, to those who queue up for meals at temples because they cannot earn enough to feed themselves, and to those who have been squeezed out of their jobs because of foreign workers.

The truth of the matter is that we need to continue to speak up. We need to continue to confront the PAP with evidence that its policies are benefiting only the rich in this country. We need to tell our leaders the truth even if the truth hurts. If this is confrontational then we should have more of it.

We must confront leaders with reasoned argument, with the humility, and with the courage. We must not confront with violence which is the PAP’s method.

Chee Soon Juan
Secretary-General
Singapore Democratic Party

Read Mr Joshua Selvakumar’s letter, (2) Politics of confrontation redundant now, here.