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7 June 2002
I feel that the many acts done by the SDP and Dr Chee to the PAP have been in vain. This includes the May Day rally outside the Istana as well as the speeches at Speakers’ Corner which violated Singapore’s entertainment laws. What is being done is useless. Furthermore, it has caused the party to become a less respectable by Singaporeans, despite your good motives.
It can be said that carrying out physical protests are useless in Singapore. During the first parliament sitting in Singapore, the Barisan Sosialis, which held several seats, decided to boycott parliament as way to voice their discontentment. They staged a street protest. They thought they would gain more support but instead they lost all their seats and never had a chance to have any more seats.
Such protests carried out by the SDP are ineffective in Singapore. The only way to bring true democracy in Singapore is to win seats in Parliament. Protests carried out in other countries may be effective, but Singapore is different.
Be more sensible and don’t do such stupid things. You will win more respect from Singaporeans and it can definitely increase the chance of winning seats in Parliament.
SDP: The SDP agrees with Chan WJ that the only way to bring democracy to Singapore is to win seats in Parliament. We assure him or her that our ultimate goal is to institute change through the ballot box.
This is why it is so important that elections must be genuinely free and fair. This is also why the PAP makes sure that it continues to alter the electoral system in such a way as to ensure the kind of results we see election in and election out.
Introducing and enlarging GRCs, blatant gerrymandering, threatening voters with HDB upgrading, giving out money through shares during elections are just some examples of how unfree and unfair the entire system is. During the Barisan Sosialis days (since the writer brought it up), the PAP was even bolder. It arrested and detained Barisan leaders under the ISA and then held elections.
For 40 years the opposition has had to play the game under rules set out by the PAP. The problem is that every time the opposition gets better at it, the PAP changes the rules to make sure we don’t succeed. The ruling party is only too happy for Singaporeans to continue to believe that change can be brought about through the vote once every four or five years even without a free media and a fair electoral system.
And after each election, the PAP claims a mandate for another five years. Before one realizes it, decades have passed without any change in the government. The most troubling fact is that Singaporeans continue to think (and hope) that change will somehow come about despite the absence of a democratic system.
There is nothing not respectable about exercising our right to assemble and speak freely. Singaporeans must get away from the mentality that things are “good” and “respectable” only when the PAP says they are so.
If the opposition in Singapore is going to make any significant headway (not the kind prescribed by the PAP through NMPs and NCMPs), we must not only fight hard but also fight smart. If we continue to play the game under the ever-changing rules of the PAP, then we will be like kittens chasing after a ball of string tugged by the PAP to keep it just beyond our grasp.
Mirroring this danger is the economy. If our economy continues to take directions from the PAP and be controlled by the Government-linked companies, we are going to get into deeper trouble that we’re already in. If Singapore is going to survive, the people must be able to think creatively, analyse critically and act independently traits that so lacking in our society because of our inability to think out of the PAP box but yet are so vital for our economy to succeed in this globalised age.
If we keep thinking along the PAP lines and have this desire to be “respectable”, or at least be seen to be so, then we are going to suffer as a society both politically and economically.