Reply to Rosmati Jumardi I

March 7, 2005
Singapore Democrats

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7 March 2005

I refer to the letter “I like things the way they are” by Ms Rosiati Jumardi (24 February 2005). In my reply to the letter, I occasionally refer to Spain because I lived there for a period. Therefore, I am in good position to compare Singapore with Spain more than with any other country. My response to her comments are in bold.

Dear Sirs and Madams,

First of all I would like to apologise for any rough words
used later in my statements or the wrong use of the English
Language. I am after all a student and is not that
proficient in my language. I am still coping but I will try
my best to bring across my points.

I have just stumbled upon this website while i was doing my
research for my upcoming school debate.

I have been following this website regularly for the last 5 months and have read all the articles in the archives even those which date a few years back. A far contrast to your “just stumbled upon this website”

I’ve read some of the opinions of those Singaporeans and other users of the
website on how Singapore really should be. But really, may I
ask all of you, are your suggestions really feasible? Does
it really make sense?

Please be specific in which suggestion you are refering to. I can give you a dozen PAP policies which dont make sense too.

Most of you feel that Singapore should allow her people to
be more open and expressive. You feel that the citizens of
Singapore should really be allowed the freedom of speech.
May I bring you all back to the reality that YES, Singapore
has allowed her people to have that freedom. This can be
seen from the opening of the speakers corner here in
Singapore itself. But may I ask you people, really, how many
people have been there to express their thoughts?

Have you not read about what has happened to fellow Singaporeans like JB Jayaretnam and Dr Chee Soon Juan after they spoke up? With so many restrictions on the Speaker’s Corner itself, do you think it is really a platform for open debate? You can’t talk about government policies, can’t clench your fists, can’t even say or do anything which “provokes public controversy”! Maybe you should do some research on the meaning of freedom of speech too.

Does the other Singaporeans really attracted to hear the opinions of
the opposition of PAP to make the changes that you have
proposed? If you really want to make your opinion heard dear
sirs and madams, please feel free to go to the speakers
corner to express your thoughts. If you are afraid of the
actions taken by the government for what you have said, then
I believe you should really review the words that you want
to use. Is it really appropriate to curse? After all, we do
not want the children to learn how to curse right?

I dont think using foul language is the argument here.

So would it not be appropriate to use the right use of words when we
are speaking in the media or in public?

Please read the letters that SDP has sent to the Straits Times in recent times and tell me which words are “not right”. I dont think its just “foul language” the Straits Times editors are censoring.

And are the factsthat you brought up for real or just your imagination?
I feel that most of us are still comfortable with the way
things are run here. We feel that the government are still
giving us our space, and does not intrude in any of our
privacy. Apart from that our well-being are still taken care
of by the government, and most of us are leading a happy and
comfortable life. If this is not the case, then many of us
would have pressurize the government for a change. Am I not
right in saying this?

When I was studying in Barcelona, Spain last year, I got a letter from the Singapore Air Force congratulating me about being pre-selected to be trained to be a pilot in the Air Force. I, on the other hand have never expressed any interest in the public service all my life. So much for the “Govt not intruding in our privacy.” Most Singaporeans are leading a happy and comfortable life? Comfortable yes. Happy no. If not, then why the rise in depression and suicide cases in recent years?

Think Center recently held a internet poll on whether Singaporeans feared the PAP Govt, the majority voted “yes”. Are fearful citizens going to pressurize their Govt which they fear so much? I guess not. Even if they did, how would you expect them to pressurize the PAP? Hold a peaceful demonstration? That will land you in jail. Vote for the opposition? That means your HDB estate might not be considered for upgrading or other neighbourhood facility improvements. Write to the Straits Times? Dont make me laugh.

The opinions of the oppositions team sometimes do not
make sense at all. In my opinion, you are there for the sake
of going against the PAP since you are the opposition, is it
not true?

Now, which opinion of the opposition team does not make sense at all? Please be specific. What is so spectacular about “being there for the sake
of going against the PAP”? Being a opposition in Singapore only means that you risk being suit for defamation and being labelled a outcast.

How many suggestions have you brought up that has
or have taken the vote of the majority in Singapore?

Does the PAP Govt even let the opposition bring up its suggestions? The main reason why the PAP has been in power for so long is because of its manipulative ways. The PAP controls the media with a strong fist. It doesnt give the opposition any room to breathe. Has any of the suggestions or policies brought up by the opposition been even brought to the public by any of the media channels? No. The PAP very successfully makes the opposition in Singapore look like sitting ducks.

Dearest sirs and madams, do you really feel that Singapore
has to change the way it is? I would like to bring this
question dear sirs and madams. Are you not comfortable
living in Singapore? You may say its stressful, but may I
say this, everything that we do brings stress. It’s just the
different weights of the stress that we feel.

Then why are educated and successful Singaporeans flocking to Australia and the US in numbers? Why are the top breed of our students going for overseas studies on Govt scholarships not returning even though their bonds guarantees them a steady, well paid career upon return? If these are not reason enough for Singapore to start considering change, then I rest my case.

The security that we have here in Singapore should not be
taken for granted. Really I have to admit crimes do occur
everywhere, but if you were to compare the security level, I
feel Singapore is way on top. Try walking in the streets of
some of the Western countries (I apologise if you feel hurt
by this statement), some children even at the tender age of
5 carry guns. Some even went to the extent of shooting or
killing their own parents if they are not satisfied with
them. People get cruelly murdered, robbed or raped. May I
ask you dear kind sirs and madams, how many such cases can
you find in Singapore?

Singapore ought to have a lower crime rate due to its small size and population. Even judging by crime rate per capita, Singapore is not the safest city in the world. Very strangely, the safest city in the world is in a Western country…hmmm…tell me why…

There is a difference between doing something right because of punishment and doing something right simply because it is the right thing to do. Singapore has a habit of looking for quick fixes when problems arise. This form of dealing with issues on the surface is not healthy and the consequences are already taking form in society today.

In Singapore, most people’s reaction to taking marijuana or cocaine would be that it’ll land you in jail and that you’ll be hanged. The laws here even make one forget that marijuana or cocaine could be harmful to your health in the first place. There is no change of mindset of the subject (drug abuse) in the first place. People conform out of fear. Not because it is the right thing to do. Public education, though it takes a longer time, is a better option in the long run because that changes mindsets.

You mention kids killing their parents in Western countries. Am I not to say that this is a minority that you are referring to? Even with the strict laws here, we still had that 15 year old hitman in a murder case (Anthony Ler) a few years ago. Try removing the gun laws here and then see how many of our kids would be shooting each other down.

Ms Rosiati, I dont think that you have lived in another country before. I’ve lived in Spain and I assure you that you can walk on the streets of Barcelona at any given time without much complain. And no, you won’t see a police car every 100m. Maybe Barcelona is not “super safe” like Singapore, but rest assured that it is safe enough.

Dear kind sirs and madams, you have proposed that Singapore
should abolished its heavier sentences such as death penalty
and caning. You feel that sooner or later Singapore
judiciary would make a mistake in punishing one of these
prisoners. You also said that Singapore is having this
punishment for selfish reasons such as reducing the amount
of money spent on keeping this prisoners in prison. May i
say i this dear sirs n madams, no one is perfect. Everyone
makes a mistake. If Singapore does not have this heavy
sentences for the crimes that deserve this, would Singapore
really be safe?

What crimes are we talking about here? Possessing 100 grams of cocaine at Changi Airport transit lounge? Is that crime enough to be hanged? Even you mentioned in the above paragraph that everyone makes mistakes and that no one is perfect. Why do you use your statements for your convenience only?

No one has the right to play God. Even European countries once had capital punishment in the past. The fact that they have removed such punishment is a sign of maturity on their part. Why does the United Nations even have a world ranking for Human Rights abuse in the first place? And why does Singapore always fair so poorly in this area? Either the United Nations is flawed in its judgment or that Singapore needs to reconsider its policies.

Those convicts that are freed may commit
their crimes again. And dear sirs and madams if all these
“dangerous” prisoners are put together, they may make a plot
to escape. After all, they have commit crimes before, and
has planned them before executing them, so having other
prisoners to share n plan their ideas, would it not be easy
to carry them out?

Then how about those who had been detained under the Internal Security Act without being charged under any written law?

You seem to suggest that dangerous criminals should be hanged because if they are kept alive together they would cause more trouble. Do you have any evidence to support this ridiculous theory of yours? Then why do they have jails in the first place? Forget murderers, what about rapists and other serious crime offenders? They don’t face the death penalty. And they are sharing jail cells with other criminals too. Does it mean they are all plotting to escape and rape more innocent people?

Dear sirs and madams, you also brought up the issue of
National Service. May i ask you sir, if National Service is
to be abolished, can you guarantee that Singapore would not
get involved in war? After all, i still see there are still
many wars taking place around the world. Singapore is after
all a small country. We are vulnerable and our men powers
are limited. If you feel that National Service is to be
abolished, then am i not right to propose the abolishment of
any military aspects there is in this world. What for should
we have them in place since NS is not compulsory and no male
citizens can be trained? Why do we have to train our people
to be ready and vigilant when after all military and self
defence is not important? Am i right to say this sir?

Singapore is not the only small country in the world which is subject to war possibility. St Helena, the Mauritius, Moldova and Andorra are also small countries which are just as vulnerable as Singapore in this area. They do without national service.

Forced patriotism can only do so much. Just because our boys are trained to kill doesnt mean that they will kill when the time arises. The general perspective among most national servicemen today is that it is a complete waste of time and the fact that they are doing it for their country is far from their minds.

Ms Rosiati, you are female and would never be called up to do national service. How would you feel that if the Govt passes a law tomorrow that every female Singaporean upon reaching the age of 18 has to get conceived and bear 2 babies,(equivalent of 2 years of national service) as a national cause? Besides the falling birth rates now also affects our national security.

Dear Sirs and Madams you feel that DEMOCRACY should be
practiced by Singapore and that we should follow how the
super powers govern their country.

“to build a democratic society…”. Its in our national pledge. Need I say more? Singapore shouldn’t follow other countries’ political system just for the sake of it. But who says considering them would be a mistake? If it works for someone else, what makes you think that it wouldnt work for you? Unless you want to quote Mr Lee Kuan Yew and hide under the “Asian values” umbrella.

But may I ask you, how similar is Singapore compared to these super powers? Those
super powers countries are bigger than us. We are after all
the red dot on the map. And how really successful is these
Super Powers compared to us.

National success doesn’t count by economic achievement alone. Singaporeans are unhappy and always complaining. Our system doesn’t support the old. And young, successful Singaporeans are still dumping their parents in old folks homes. Such scenarios are very rare in Spain. They have better family bond. Some of which could be attributed to their lifestyle and their level of tolerance which most European countries are known for.

Those western countries really
have problems that some Singaporeans are not even aware of.
Take Britain for example. Welfare state? Is it really
efficient? Try assesing it and tell me. I would be glad to
see some of your opinions.

No one suggested that Singapore should be a welfare state. But isn’t it worth to think about that there are expats here who are living more comfortably than they would have back in their own countries at a time when there are Singaporeans who are struggling to pay utility bills and facing retrenchment?

Dear Sirs and Madams, Singapore SHOULD NOT follow and
practice what is being practiced by other countries.
Singapore after all has achieved successes through its own
way of governing. In fact we are much better than those
countries bigger than us. We are at the same level or better
than those countries that everyone goes goo-goo-ga-ga on. Do
I really need to elaborate on this point?

If Singapore has achieved so much success from “its own way of governing” and that any change is absolute unnecessary, then why did the Govt launch national projects like “Singapore 21” and “Remaking Singapore”? Even the PAP has realised that there were shortcomings in the old system and that change was necessary.

If Singapore is “so much better” than the bigger countries that you’ve mentioned, then why are we wooing foreign citizens from the same “bigger countries” to achieve success for us? Shouldn’t Singaporeans be “much better than those from countries bigger than us”?

Oh before I forget, the issue of Singapore being a clean and
green country. You said that its not true and that Singapore
is just covering up all the dirt and rubbish that is thrown
everywhere and the bushes that are there are just to cover
them. But may i ask, if its true then sooner or later these
rubbish would pile up and we are able to see them. But I
have not seen this happening.

It is a metaphorical comment that Singapore hides its dirt in the bushes. What it really suggests is that Singapore is only clean and perfect on the surface. Underneath it all are layers of dirt manifested over 30 years. And I am not even talking about the cleanliness here.

What is the reason that we have
cleaners in every part of Singapore? To clean those areas
that are dirty, even if it means under the bushes or
wherever else.And thus by doing it is it not true that we
are keeping Singapore clean? Yes Singapore is not perfectly
clean, but we are sooo not dirty like some of the countries
in other parts of the world. We are way better in our
cleanliness.

You must be referring to poorer Third World countries when you mention that “Singapore is not so dirty like some of the countries in other parts of the world”. How much dirtier is London or Berlin city compared to Singapore? I’ve been to both London and Berlin and it’s not too much different from Singapore in terms of cleanliness. And no, you won’t find any “$500 fine” signboards in the two European cities.

I would not go any further. It would take longer than this to
support my opinions on how crappy some Singaporeans can be
in criticizing our government and supporting the opposition.
Some of the foreigners may have their own ideas of what
Singapore is, i would not intrude on their privacy and their
opinion but may i say dear sirs n madams, you should after
all review both the demerits and benefits. Before you say
how a country should be, please think about how your country
should be first. Is it really good enough until it is a full
100% good enough an idea for us to follow?

Say that last line of yours to the PAP. How many PAP policies regarding HDB housing, education and unemployment has been proven “100% good enough” before they were implemented? Remember how the Govt introduced the SAT paper for “A” level and Polytechnic students to qualify for local universities and did an about turn when they realised that more local students were going to overseas universities instead?

Dear sirs and Madams, if you are a Singaporean and you feel
that it is not good enough to be in Singapore, and the life
that you are leading is not good enough, than i would say and
propose that you leave this country to go pursue what you
want. Where your freedom is not limited and you could find a
better life. Singapore would not lose out on anything if you
were to leave.

You are implementing that if you have a problem, just leave, dont even bother fighting your stand. What kind of message are are you sending to our young? Leaders are human beings too and they will tend to make mistakes. The only way that they can correct and improve themselves is by accepting criticism. You are suggesting that no one in Singapore should criticize the Govt at all and let “big brother” take care of us. No wonder Singapore is referred to as a nanny state.

By allowing Singaporeans to speak out and argue their case, they would feel more attached to their country and feel more patriotic as they would know that they can play a part too. And this patriotism works better as it is not forced like national service.

There are others citizens from other
countries who wants to be here and live here, find their
hope and dreams here just like you.

Yes, indeed. Even LKY once mentioned that there is enough talent in India and China to make up for Singaporeans leaving for abroad. His point was not to convince the leaving Singaporeans to stay but to rebut that there are foreigners who can take over them if they were to leave. How thoughtful of our MM.

So please as an educated
person, you should be mature enough to weigh the benefits n
demerits that our government brought to us. I do not say
that it is wrong to have an opinion of your own, but then
again, please review whether your ideas n opinions are
feasible

Thank you for reading this. I hope there is a reply of some
sort from any of the readers or the members of the SDP
themselves to defend their opinions or to support my stand.
I feel that PAP has done a good job and will not disappoint
us Singaporeans in the future

ROSIATI JUMARDI

a student in Singapore of age 17 this year
[Just to say I’m young but I still think I have better
opinions then some adults which some of it does not make
sense at all.]

Do not self praise yourself too much by boasting that your opinions are more worthy than what other proven intellectuals have suggested. Though it is a good sign that as a 17 year old you’d like to contribute to such debate, your mind is not fully matured and you still have a long way to go in terms of political awareness as you have demonstrated in your above letter.

I have never heard any SDP representative say that they are perfect and that they are the best. The fact that they are willing to listen and even post differing views on their website is sign that they are always looking to improve themselves. They create an open and balanced platform where anyone can air their views for debate so the public can decide for themselves what is best. This is the only way that Singapore can improve as a nation.

I hope my views were of some use to readers.

WARREN ESWARAN