Why the SDP?

January 3, 2009
Singapore Democrats

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Jufrie Mahmood

After a long lay off, my recent public visibility has attracted attention and comments from well-intended close and not so close friends. “Why, Jufrie Why?” they asked. “But if you must, why not associate with the more compliant group? Wouldn’t life be cozier and less stressful?” said several of them.

Such reactions have prompted me to in turn ask, “What kind of opposition do Singaporeans really want? Is the status quo satisfactory and does it serve Singapore’s long term interests? If not, what then should be done and where do I fit in? I am not that highly educated, let alone being a scholar.”

For sure I know that I am not going to be in it just for the sake of being in. I want to make a difference and do it right. And definitely I am not going to be like the PAP Malay MPs. But again must a person be necessarily in parliament first before he can make a meaningful contribution?

There are many issues that need to be addressed. Can they be adequately attended to with the present lot of people who call themselves politicians?

Politicians come in all shades and mannerisms. But what factors actually motivate a person to go into politics?

Some are truly dedicated to bring about change. Many just go through the motion. Some others first feel that they can make changes from within but only find their hands and legs tied once they get in.

Some try very hard to get into parliament using a party’s track record and brand name. But when they finally do make it to parliament they treat the membership as their personal possession. Again some others allow their mouths to be plastered with more than just a fistfull of dollars that make it very difficult to open them. Not a few have their mouths stuffed with too much goodies so much so that they are afraid to open them for fear that the goodies might fall out. There are others who find the courage to open their mouths as widely as possible but only to yawn.

A couple made it to parliament but fumbled repeatedly that the people decided that they had enough of the clowning and threw them out. Some surrender their souls to their party leaders to the extent that they keep a blind eye to the discriminitory policies directed at their own community. Still not a few keep running around all over the the place pretending to be politicians but have not the faintest idea as to what they actually want to do.

Of course I could go on and on but suffice for the moment as I want to elaborate a little on the issues that need to be tackled by serious minded people who are in politics and the NGOs.

Pressing issues that need to be addressed

I shall now touch on them very briefly and further elaborate on them after gathering more input from colleagues and the public.

1. First and foremost how, under the existing constrains, can we educate and convince the people that they are the actual masters of their own destiny? If we can do this we can empower them to bring about change. The answer partly lies with our ability to fully exploit the opportunities provided by the new media. We need to involve as many well intentioned parties as possible to bring about this revolution that will enable the people to reclaim their lives.

2. Next we need to look at the ever widening income gap. How is it that the government is so filthy rich and a large section of the population so miserably poor? Answers will have to be found to this.

3. No less important is the urgent need to eradicate the culture of greed. The PAP has set a bad example by paying their ministers out of this world salaries. The culture of greed has brought on the collapse of the world financial system. Is there a lesson to be learned from this fiasco? The PAP should take heed.

4. How do we make the minders of the country’s assets more transparent and accountable to the people? Can we make suggestions to them, for instance, as to how the investments can be further diversified instead of just buying into banks? For example, why can’t we take stakes in coal mines or oil reserves? We can also lease large tracks of land in neighbouring countries to plant crops and raise animals in modern farms and sell the produce to the world. It is hard work of course but very feasible. We have the money and the expertise to do what Malaysia’s Petronas is doing and bring home solid earnings instead of just taking the easy but more risky way out.

5. We also have to find ways to arrest the declining value of our citizenship which is at present given out too easily to foreigners. In other words, how do we put an end to the maddening influx of so-called foreign talent (or trash) that has changed overnight the socio-cultural landscape of our beloved country? Does the PAP have a hidden agenda?

6.How do we debunk the absurd notion propagated by the PAP that Singapore is so devoid of talent that it cannot sustain a two-party system? This only serves the interest of the PAP.

7. How do we reverse the exodus of real indigenous talent? The educated and well endowed have been emigrating, mainly to Australia, and as far away as Canada, to escape the PAP’s nonsense.

8. How do we make the media adopt a more balanced approach and prise it away from the clutches of the PAP?

9. How do we reform the electoral system and stop the PAP from making monkeys out of the electorate? I’m sure many know what I mean.

10. How do we build a truly multi-racial country and stop the discriminatory policies of the PAP towards the Malays by depriving them of their rightful role in the armed forces? They are also entitled to defend their beloved nation. As the ill conceived policies now stand the Malays are not even allowed in many establishments run by the armed forces. Surely this is no way to build a united nation.

Of course I could also go on and on.

Why the SDP?

To those who wonder about the relevance of my association with the SDP, I have this to say: I was once the vice chairman of the party. I stood in two elections under the SDP banner. Today the SDP is a far cry from the SDP of old. Under its present leadership, the party is the only party that dares challenge the PAP outright. With the passing of JB Jeyaretnam, I do not see any other opposition personality who dares to take on the PAP the way it should.

More than twenty years ago — save for 1991 when we had four – we had two or three opposition members in parliament, one of whom a non constituency member. Today we are back to where we were. It seems that time had stood still on this score. So does being compliant bring any change?

Call it foolish if you wish. But change cannot come without challenging the status quo. Yes I do agree that the SDP and its top leaders are much maligned. I am not saying that they are without fault. Dr Chee has made mistakes. And so have we. But honestly, can’t we see that the very reason why the PAP is taking a hard line against leaders of the party is because they dare to mount a real challenge? So before the message spreads and gains acceptance, the party has to be stopped — nipped in the bud. What better way to do this than to technically take the leader out of circulation? But he simply refuses to throw in the towel. The fight goes on.

Though out of parliament Dr Chee has done much more for the opposition cause than anybody else. Of course, the PAP tries very hard to give the opposite picture. What he churns out continuously in publications and the party website can easily put other opposition practitioners to shame. I have had the privilege of coming back to work closely with him and have no doubt whatsoever that more will come round to see the true picture.

The SDP of today is genuinely a multi-racial set up. Its consultative style gives everyone the opportunity to air his views. More Singaporeans should get to know the party and its leaders, like many have already done, instead of just listening to the PAP sponsored media.

I am not saying that the SDP has all the answers to the serious problems facing the nation. Even the PAP does not have all the answers inspite of being at the helm for half a century. The PAP continue to make mistakes. More importantly, issues have to be thoroughly debated to minimise mistakes. And this can only come about if there is an alternative party.

So my message to Singaporeans is this: Keep an open mind and seek the truth about the new SDP. Let’s together strive to give Singaporeans an alternative voice for the sake of our future generation. Let us together reclaim our beloved nation.

Remember, there are many poor citizens around. Why give disproportionate rewards to aliens turned immigrants just for winning medals at the Olympics? I am sure they are here for the money. Having got it there is nothing to stop them from migrating somewhere else. I’ll take a bet on that. Its just one example of the many mistakes commited by the PAP. Let’s make it right for Singapore! YES! Together we can.