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To: The Editor
Your correspondent Ms You Lun Tian quoted National Solidarity Party member Mr Goh Meng Seng as saying: “Extremist viewpoints may draw the attention of people and garner the support of other extremists, but most web users will still want to hear balanced, moderate, mature arguments. This is also the reason why the SDP website is rapidly losing its readers.” (Lianhe Zaobao, 20 Sep 08)
There is certainly an effort to try to paint the Singapore Democrats as extremists. The SDP makes no apology for challenging the present political system and, more importantly, working to reform it.
Our objective is to ensure that the PAP Government respects democratic principles as enshrined in our Constitution. These principles include the freedoms of speech, association and assembly.
The actions of the SDP and other pro-democracy activists, which included the use of civil disobedience, have led to the opening up of Speakers’ Corner for demonstrations, albeit in a very limited way. The Government has, belatedly, acknowledged the necessity of protests.
Freedoms of speech and assembly is the bread and butter of democratic politics. Without them, there is no democracy. Only in autocratic systems are such freedoms and the exercise of them considered extreme.
On the point about the SDP website losing readers, we’ll let the statistics speak for themselves:
Between 20 June and 20 September 2008, global traffic rank of the SDP website, according to the Alexa website, rose by 194,650 positions putting us at position number 337,797.
PAP has the second highest position for Singapore’s political parties, coming in at a distant 1,286,895.
Within Singapore, the SDP’s traffic rank is 2,429. Again, PAP comes in second but only at position 7,266.
During this period, the number of users visiting our site saw a 51 percent increase. This compares to only 2 percent for the PAP website. This figure for the SDP may have dropped slightly in recent days due to our website being down for a couple of days.
Not only are there more visitors, our readers are also spending more time reading our posts. The number of pages viewed per day per user increased by 31 percent. For a similar period, the figure for the PAP’s website recorded a minus 27 percent!
In June, our website crashed because of the surge in the number of visitors. Since then, according to our own statistics, we have seen at least a tripling in the number of visitors.
We don’t think these figures point to the SDP “rapidly losing its readers,” do you?
If anything, they support the view that “most web users will still want to hear balanced, moderate, mature arguments.” And that’s what the SDP intends to continue doing on our website.
John L Tan
Singapore Democratic Party