I want to help my activist friends in Singapore

September 28, 2005
Singapore Democrats

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Dear Dr.Chee,

How do you do? You may not know me personally but I’ve been wanting to communicate with you since I read The Power of Courage. I am from Indonesia.

I was there in Singapore last year, and I could sense the blatant Orwellian atmosphere of the whole country. Many of my activist friends are being surpressed in Singapore, and I was more challenged when I read The Power of Courage.

I may not be a Singaporean, but I want to help my activist friends there to speak their voices out, cuz I know that it’s not a utopian dream to achieve democracy. Indonesia was facing the same situation during Soeharto’s regime, and luckily by collective effort we all could overthrow his supremacy. The thought seemed unthinkable for almost 32 years.

I’m positive that all this suppression will end someday and Singaporeans will reclaim their right to freedom of expression and plurality of ideas.

I would like to ask you a few things concerning Non-Violence as a political movement as I’m really interested in it. How different is Non-Violence movement as a political tool to Pacifism? Is it merely semantic? (I’m sorry beforehand if this question is a little bit trivial). I’m not a Singaporean, how can I help or join Non-violence movement that you are running with activists over there?

I’m deeply wounded with what the Singapore government had done to cripple Tang Liang Hong. May I know what’s the recent news from him and his family?

I was working on those book cover artworks for the upcoming M Ravi’s “Hung at Dawn”. If you are going to publish a book again in the future, please do not hesitate to ask my assistance for the cover art. It may not be necessarily superior, but at least I could do something to help as I’m in full support of what you are striving for.

I guess that’s all for now and thank you for your time. Look forward to your reply.

AE

SDP: There is nothing pacifist about nonviolent action. Nonviolent action is a proactive method of organising and mobilizing citizens into taking peaceful action against government policies, especially repressive ones. Such action takes courage.

Courage, however, is only one part of the equation. Nonviolent action requires strategizing, planning and review. It is an on-going process that is alive and constantly evolving, and taking on different (and more sophisticated) forms.

But whichever way it goes, nonviolent action never seeks to destroy the adversary. Rather it looks first to reason with one’s opponent. If that fails, the opponent will have to be compelled to come to the negotiating table to work out a solution. This entails direct civil action, even civil disobedience if the need arises. To do this citizens must see themselves not as victims of state action, but rather as agents of change. Obstinate regimes whose goal is to cling on to power no matter what, will ultimately need to be confronted with peaceful mass protests.

The goal is to empower the people so that we can all be citizens who actively participate in the country’s policy-making, not subjects who stoically stomach uncaring polices dished out by the rich and powerful minority. 

We thank you for your encouragement and support, and hope that you will come by and meet with us the next time you visit Singapore. May democracy serve you and your fellow Indonesians well.