This post is at least a year old. Some of the links in this post may no longer work correctly.
Why do opposition parties come alive only during the elections and not engage Singaporean youths? This was an observation made by a member of the floor during the Year-In-Review forum organised by The Online Citizen on 29 Dec 09.
Young Democrat Mr Jarrod Luo replied that this was not true. The Democrats have been actively engaging the public during the period in between elections, including youth and students. These are, however, not reported by the mass media and Singaporeans get the impression that the opposition party is dormant in between elections.
Mr Luo, the Hon Secretary of the YD, was speaking in one of the sessions at the forum. He subsequently wrote to the National University of Singapore Political Association (NUSPA) to clarify the situation (see letter below) as the questioner had identified herself as a member of the organisation.
“[J]ust because our activities are under-reported (or not reported at all) in the mainstream media, as compared to other political parties, [it] doesn’t mean that we are not active at all,” explained Mr Luo in his letter.
In fact, Mr Luo pointed out, the SDP had visited the National University of Singapore in February last year but were stopped by university officials. The Democrats had also paid visits to the Nanyang Techonogical University, Singapore Management University and the Law Faculty at the National Institute of Education.
Each time the Democrats were either stopped or had their news censored by the administrations. The president of NTU intervened personally to remove a report about the SDP’s visit in the student newpaper (click on links below).
Unfortunately none of these activities were reported by the state-run media. This is why it is important for the media to bring news of the latest happenings to people, Mr Luo emphasized.
NUSPA replied to Mr Luo on 1st Jan 2010 clarifying its position. The Association stated that the questioner attended the forum in her personal capacity and her views were hers and hers alone. It did not represent NUSPA’s. The organisation has requested that its reply not be published.
31 Dec 2009
This letter is written in reference to the comments made by your female representative, whose name eludes me as at the time of writing this letter, at the break-out session of the above-mentioned event.
I hope to seek clarification on 2 points that your representative put forth in her statement:
(i) that opposition parties tend to lie dormant until impending elections approach, upon which they awake from their dormancy in a flurry of short-lived activity which lasts only until the end of the electoral period.
(ii) that opposition parties and their youth wings in particular, have not been engaging effectively, if at all, youths and the student bodies of tertiary institutions.
I wish to seek to understand her basis for putting forth these 2 points, as well as to take this opportunity to highlight various publicly available resources which, if brought to her attention, would, in my opinion, render her statement moot and unwarranted. You will find them appended at the end of this article, which I have taken the time and effort to aggregate for your easy perusal.
First off, I would like to reiterate here my reply to your representative at the event itself, that just because our activities are under-reported (or not reported at all) in the mainstream media, as compared to other political parties, doesn’t mean that we are not active at all.
It just simply means that one is not at the right place at the right time to witness the ongoing activity, hence the need for the media, whether mainstream or alternative, which brings news of the latest happenings to people who do not happen to be at the scene. In the event of coverage shortfall by the mainstream media (which seems to happen to the opposition parties too often for comfort), the Singapore Democratic Party has taken to the internet as a form of alternative media in a bid to bridge this shortfall and connect with the masses.
However, the internet, unlike the mainstream media which is served to the consumers right up to their doorsteps on a silver platter, requires a certain level of intent and proactivity on the part of the users in that the information they get will only be what they want, and what they know they want. Therefore, the reach of the internet to the masses will not be able to match up to the mainstream media, which force-feeds the same information to one and all, at least for now.
It is heartening to see more and more youths like your representative and her fellow colleagues at NUSPA gaining more awareness about the socio-political climate in Singapore and beginning to question their various observations, but I was honestly disappointed when she brushed off Justin’s and my explanations to her statements and jumped to her misinformed, in my opinion, conclusion that the opposition parties are not putting in enough effort and working hard enough to reach out.
I was further disappointed when I earnestly sought her suggestion as to what can be done to improve the situation since she is the person on the ground making this observation, only to get a cursory evasion from her saying that she is “merely a normal citizen”.
I would also like to highlight this incident, that when we visited NUS earlier this year we were stopped by University officials, and were told to write to NUSSU for opportunities to engage students instead. Our chairman, Mr Gandhi Anbalam subsequently corresponded as per suggested, with a student official at NUSSU but to no avail even till date.
Finally, I hereby would also like to humbly volunteer the availability of my colleagues and I at the Singapore Democratic Party to participate in any of your future activities because it is not without dismay that I notice that the event roll of NUSPA is sorely under-represented by the opposition parties in Singapore. At the same time, we would also hope to be able to inform NUSPA and invite its members to the public events and activities we will be organizing via this email if possible.
I look forward forward to your reply. Thank you.