Complaints Choir of Singapore

February 9, 2008
Singapore Democrats

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09 Feb 08

Dear SDP,

I write as a frustrated member of the Complaints Choir of Singapore. Despite the ban on our public performances, I’m glad we persisted at The Arts House. I hate it that we have to hide our political agendas (if any) as members; I hate the fact that we are forced to self-censor.

However, I deliver some good news- some of us will continue to sing in the complaints choir, grousing for all eternity, hoping to provoke some ears and incite some sentiment at our murky state of affairs- or for some, continue to pursue our love for singing, (perhaps) as a manifestation of a single community spirit. I will keep you updated, SDP.

And thank you Dr Chee for attending out 3pm performance on Sunday!

JEREMY

SDP’s reply:

It is a shame that the Choir was not allowed to perform in public. The audience would have enjoyed judging from the
video that was posted on Youtube. The persistence and determination of the Choir members were indeed commendable. We hope you will continue to do what you do, develop yourselves musically as well as politically. Remember a de-politicized citizenry cannot stand up for the nation. Thank you all for your hardwork. Well done!

Dr Chee sends his regards to you and the other Choir members. He thoroughly enjoyed the performance.

__________________________________

I refer to the
letter written to SDP by a person James regarding TheOnlineCitzen and published by SDP on 27 Jan, 2008. I would like to share my view regarding this letter with SDP and its readers.

Some people have the strange view that “not anti-PAP” means “pro-PAP”.

Some people have no problem with some ex-PAP becoming opposition because they have shown strong “anti-PAP” acts to signal their change of heart. But they question any other person with past or current “link” in any form and shape with PAP just because they are not showing an “anti-PAP” color. These are being labeled or questioned.

This over-simplified view of “anti-PAP” and “pro-PAP” political spectrum is no different from the communist China’s Red Guard mindset of pro-Revolution vs counter-Revolution in the 60s. In recent years, we see the same mindset in Taiwan’s DPP (Democratic Progressive Party) in dividing people and social/political issues in term of pro-Taiwan vs anti-Taiwan. We have seen the damage done to the respective societies. We also see the wisdom of Taiwan people to vote against DPP in the recent legislative council election for failing as a ruling government. They are wise in not being manipulated by DPP pro-Taiwan vs anti-Taiwan campaign tactics.

This view that one must either be “anti-PAP” or “pro-PAP” is wrong and it is no different from PAP saying one should join a political party in order to get involved in social/political issues. Such view is wrong for healthy democratic development.

True democracy is founded on strong people involvement in social/political issues. To do this, we need media to provide good quality issue based information to simulate our thinking and debate. In the past one year, we have seen many blogs doing this, including TOC (TheOnlineCitizen) just doing that.

Some people question TOC because of its editorial team’s past/current “link” to PAP. But they do not question other ex-PAP turn opposition. Why? So, the real issue they have is not the past/current “link” to PAP but their judgment of whether the individual is anti-PAP enough to their liking. If we subscribe to such judging view, we will have a polarized” anti-PAP vs pro-PAP” political scene. There will be no room for non-partisan concerned people to get involved in politics. When PAP falls, we will have only one anti-PAP political force to take over. We will just be switching from one One-Party domination to another One-Party domination.

Our democratic development must be one that grow a strong, politically concerned people who are free to choose if they want to involve in any political party. We should expect a wide spectrum of political views and political parties that can not be simply classified as anti-PAP or pro-PAP. We need different political parties to avoid another One-Party domination. We need a strong non-partisan politically concerned public to objectively judge and readily switch support from one party to another party instead of one that blindly loyal to a particular party. The attempt by some people to divide us into “anti-PAP vs pro-PAP” will ruin this democratic development.

The members of TOC with past or present “link” with PAP are still independent thinking, caring people who raise issue of public concern and serving the public by sharing their views and gathering information. Reading those articles help the public to raise awareness of the issues, If readers want to take further actions, they can do so, like joining political parties or writing to the newspapers. TOC is doing a good job in contributing to our democratic development. It is grossly unjust to doubt their motive based on those “links”.

Don’t we know of people who were PAP and now opposition?

Don’t we remember late President Ong dutifully questioned PAP government to safeguard our reserves, serving the people above the party?

Being “linked” to ST, MDA, YPAP or any grassroots body do not immediately and permanently transform an individual into PAP robot.

Being “linked” to ST, MDA, YPAP or any grassroots body do not make people immediately and permanently give up their values and duties to the people and the nation.

Until and unless people starting to get involved in raising social/political issues and talking about them like many blogs and TOC, we will not have a people based democracy. The effort of many blogs and TOC is a start.

Until and unless people starting to get involved in grassroots as individuals serving the community, we will not have a people based grassroots. Let us appreciate those who are in the grassroots to serve the people instead of blindly questioning them.

SAREK HOME

__________________________________

Dear Dr. Chee,

I can see the continued destruction of Singapore before my very eyes. The list is too long but a few can be mentioned, such as, the denial of the rule of law; the total disregard of the Constitution, such as the segregation of the Malays and Indians under HDB policy, such as the illegal importation of millions of Chinese from China to deny the Malays and the Indians equality in citizenship; the indiscriminate importation of foreign workers deliberately intended to destroy the livelihood of Singapore workers; the deliberate policy of not educating Singaporeans fully so that they will be forever kept ignorant of the injustice done to them; the consequent massive flood of educated Singaporeans overseas resulting in unacceptable levels of loss in skilled people; the unacceptable income disparity between rich and poor; the beatings of prisoners as part of their punishment called caning; the highest rate of legal executions of any country in the world; the unacceptable levels of suicides; the ministers paying themselves $3.7 million dollars a year and calling it a salary! I can go on but I must stop. The list is too long.

In other words, Lee Kuan Yew is behaving as if he is the law unto himself. As if the Constitution never existed. As if he can do anything he wants.

If any citizen of Singapore stood by as he continued on his merry way, Singapore will be totally destroyed. It will no longer be recognizable as the Singapore that anyone knew. As you are aware, the legal profession having been discredited, with a corrupt judiciary and the absence of the rule of law; lawyers are leaving the profession as we speak. The Civil Service despite large pay increments and other perks as inducements is continuing to see massive resignations and no new entrants.

Having said all this, I understand you yourself having agreed with Freedom House, the international monitor on democracies that democracy cannot come about in Singapore though the ballot box. Lee Kuan Yew and his son have both admitted themselves that they have “fixed” the system so they continue to win.

Since waiting for the next elections is useless, since it is going to be the same arrogance from Lee Kuan Yew, or if he is dead by then, from his son; surely there is common ground here that only one thing and one thing alone can work to bring about change; and that is physically demanding it from the dictators. Since we all know that there is no dictatorship in the world, so far as we know, that peacefully handed over power to someone else.

I have been in the Workers Party from 1984 to 1991 and contested 2 elections, Tiong Bahru in 1988 and Bukit Merah in 1991. During these years, I have seen the Workers Party cater to perceived or imagined preferences of the citizenry. For instance since JB Jeyaretnam was an Indian and Singapore is predominantly Chinese, whenever he appeared in public, he arranged to be surrounded by Chinese, to allay any impression that the Workers Party was an Indian Party. During the later part of his career in the party, there was constant talk that Mr. Low Thia Khiang should take over since he was Chinese, and will be appreciated by the Chinese majority instead of an Indian. Even for photo ops, there was usually a magical chairs merry go round where the races were rearranged to show more Chinese. When I look back, I say all this was wrong. We are all Singaporeans. What difference did it make whether you were a yellow Chinese with slit eyes and no facial hair at all, or if you were an Indian with a sharp nose and hair all over your face? What difference did it make? None.

My point is this. In whatever that men do, the governing rule is what is right and wrong. What people think in the immediate future should make no difference on one’s judgment.

And let me come to the point. Since we both agree, I hope that elections never got rid of any dictator, the answer lies; you guessed right as to what I will say; the answer lies in protests. Protests against an unjust regime are both legally and morally right. In fact not protesting against these outrages makes every local Singaporeans an accomplice and collaborator with Lee Kuan Yew as he continues to destroy Singapore.

I personally know that there are many who may say that Singapore should be changed the conventional way, that is through elections. That protests and such things are not within the Singapore psyche. That Singaporeans are more civil and gentle people. That if there are protests all foreign investment will leave Singapore and we will be turned overnight into beggars.

None of these questions should even come anywhere near the equation. The answer is very simple. Should something be done to stop the rot? And can that something be contesting elections as usual. And if you already know of its inefficacy, then what is the point of doing it. I say public opinion does not matter. What matters is what is right and wrong. That alone should be guiding principle, because doing the right thing always ensures success in the end. Otherwise, you will be no better than the present toothless Workers Party.

Today, the situation is prime for protests. It is perfect. You have more grievances that what you need. These grievances cut across racial lines, income groups; in fact these grievances affect every Singaporeans.

What you must do is to deliberately make Mr. Wong Kan Seng realize that he has become helpless. By deliberately breaking these laws unjust laws such as the assembly and speech laws designed specifically to keep Singaporeans without a voice. The dense population of Singapore which equates such places as Gaza and Hong Kong, makes protests especially effective. The concentration of people is so great that one message spoken once will be heard by at least 100 people along Orchard Road. This is the reason why Wong Kan Seng is terrified of the word protests. Its effectiveness is exemplified in countries such as Singapore.

Of course there is the danger of arrests and other forms of intimidation by the government against protestors. But I believe even now that too many protests have happened that criminalizing it is becoming counterproductive. I recall a number of protests organized by the SDP in 2007, for instance the Burmese protests, the Istana protest, and so on. I have not read in any news media that the police have taken any action against any of the protestors.

If Dr. Chee Soon Juan and his friends are deliberately going to defy these laws, and if the police are going to arrest him, try him in the Subordinate Court for 2 months, levy a small fine which he will refuse to pay, go to jail for a week; come out and do it all over gain. You see it is this government that is losing its respect, its time and money; Dr. Chee loses nothing. Instead he gains international respect and admiration as a freedom fighter. And if a few can join him and with a few more as time goes on; you will have another Intramuros Manila Filipinos who ousted the dictator Marcos.

Moreover, Lee being an octogenarian or whatever name he may have, he will die soon. That too must give an added impetus for the movement for change.

The good news. Singaporeans are very suitable for democracy. Over the years they have become a civil people. A law abiding people. A gentle people. They are not like Pakistanis or the Afghans who are out to kill. Singaporeans will not kill anyone. Such people are best suited to democracy. And for making them a gentle people we can thank Lee Kuan Yew for that. But having thanked him, we should ask him to step aside. Right now.

So my dear Dr. Chee. Please do something. Taking about electoral reforms within 4 walls are good but not enough. What is needed is physical action.

Thank you.

GOPALAN NAIR

Attorney at Law