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Chee Siok Chin
Many of us will gripe, grumble and even curse when we feel infringed or disadvantaged. We complain about the hikes in public transport fares, ERP charges, car park fees, GST, hospital bills, PUB bills, wage freezes and a myriad of other circumstances.
Complaints may be lodged with respective organizations, yet little (if at all) is done to address the grievances. This may well-suit Singaporeans who merely want to vent their frustration about being victims of PAPs autocratic ruling style. But, how far does this go in pressing the government for change? Does anyone remember a time when the PAP changed an unpopular policy because they have heard the people? Singaporeans who are serious about making the ruling party listen to them must not fool themselves into thinking that writing a long, convincing and eloquent letter would register with this government. Theyd be lucky just to have their letters read by the directors or heads of the various departments.
Our citizens must realize that we have the right to make the PAP listen to us and not make decisions that would serve its partys own purposes. The PAP members must not further their ambitions at the cost of Singaporeans.
I must reiterate that questioning the government, pressing it for transparency and making it accountable to Singaporeans are not deviant, wrongful attitudes. It is the PAP that has turned these responses into something warped and therefore, unlawful.
In his book Living Faith, this years Nobel Laureate and ex-President of the US Jimmy Carter explains the views held by the great twentieth century theologian Reinhold Niebuhr The highest possible goal of a government or society is justice: to treat people fairly, to guarantee their individual rights, to guard against discrimination, to try to resolve arguments peacefully. Thats what a government should do. He continues to say When governments fail to defend real justice it is a duty for citizens informed by religious faith and morality to challenge the powerful and demand change.
Civil disobedience, of course, includes a willingness to accept the penalty for breaking the law one opposes. .. Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and other biblical heroes made it clear that nonviolence and tolerance are necessary hallmarks of effective civil disobedience. Understood in this way, this action is the prerogative of any private citizen.
These words were written by a man who once was in control of the most powerful nation in the world and who is extolled for his efforts to promote peace the world over.
The leaders of SDP have stood up for what they believe in. Yes, dire consequences have descended upon them, but this is only because citizens here have played right into the hands of the PAP and given it the omnipotence that it seeks. I urge Singaporeans to seriously consider how much our freedom and values really mean to us and if we are willing to stand by them. Or, do we compromise our ethics, values, principles and morality in the face of imagined or real intimidation?