What does SDP stand for?

April 17, 2007
Singapore Democrats

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Dear Dr Chee,

As a fellow Singaporean, living in Australia, while I personally agree with you that there is room for more freedom of speech and free association to improve in Singapore, I find it “unpatriotic” to run down our own Motherland in front of outsiders, especially outside Singapore. Such “unpatriotic” spirit will stick poorly unto you and what your Party actually stands for by casting them in bad light among Singaporeans who are fiercely loyal to their own Motherland.

I believe in healthy politics. We will fight for what we believe and stand for and their underlying spirit of democratic ideals and freedoms in Singapore.

So, what exactly, do you and your SDP presently stand for, in Singapore?

I would have thought that SDP will stand up and fight for the true “Singapore Democracy” on behalf of the Singaporean Peoples and for a good future in Singapore, in opposition of the PAP’s autocratic “Social-Democratic” System that is currently in place in Singapore.

Unless, you and your SDP or/and other opposition political parties in Singapore are able to correctly identify that single common core value/cries of the Singaporean Peoples which is truly hurting them in their innermost presently and which can effectively resonate clearly within their hearts and caused their political will and Nationalism spirit to be renewed, and are able to provide an alternative viable views towards developing a better Singapore for all Singaporeans to live in, I personally believe that many Singaporeans will not have much interests in local politics for the time being, until come a day in the near future if God be willing, there may/will

arise 2 different camps of opposing views breaking out from within the PAP Party or/and after the old man has left the local political scene, for good.

Chia Poh Thye and his unrelenting spirit to continue to believe in what he wants to believe in life , despite being jailed for most part of his earthly life, is one credible political foe that the old man did not manage to “crush” during all this period. Consequently, there is much to learn from him and from his life and what he actually stood for in Singapore, as far as future generations of Singaporeans are concerned.

Is he or rather the seed of his spirit going to be the next “Nelson Mandela” and “Mahatma Gandhi” that will surface in the local politics scene in Singapore in the near future?

I agree with you that you and your family have indeed suffered much for

standing up for your own beliefs in Singapore, to date. However, is what you and your SDP presently stands for, resonate well and clearly with Singaporeans?

Or do Singaporeans generally believe and think that you through your SDP, have a personal axe to grind against the PAP especially its leaders over your and your wife’s past job dismissal in NUS?

Unless you continue to stand tall and be clear minded and able to move along the high ideals of promoting a better form of Singapore democracy for all Singaporeans, and be willing to remove all existing blemishes/traces of “grinding personal axe”, “unpatriotism” etc that are being stuck onto you and your SDP, from the public minds in Singapore, I do not see a good political future for you nor for your SDP.

Please note that I am NOT judging you or your SDP here. My intentions is just to provide some ground feedback to you and your SDP, based from what I have read, seen and heard so far, as a local Singaporean living overseas.

KENNETH KOH

SDP’s reply to Mr Koh:

 Dear Kenneth Koh,

I am glad that you have written to tell us how you feel about the political situation in Singapore.

As a fellow Singaporean who have made numerous visits to other countries, Australia, included, I have to disagree with you on certain issues that you have

raised.

I can imagine how you feel when you mention that it is “unpatriotic” to run down Singapore in the presence of outsiders. Let me quote you a recent example which

happened to me personally.

I had the opportunity to watch a play, entitled “This is a True Story” in Sydney recently which tackles about the death penalty issue. After the play, there

was a panel discussion in which one of the members, Mr Lex Lasry, the Australian counsel for Ngyuen was present. Ngyuen, just in case, you are unaware of, is

the Australian, who was hanged in Singapore for drug possession, despite strong protest from Australia and a small group of anti-death penalty advocates in

Singapore.

Naturally, Lex has nothing “kind” to relate about the Singapore government. My first impulse is to fall back onto a defensive position as he seems to imply that the average Singaporean endorses the death penalty.

Unfortunately, I did not stand up to question his assumption due to time constraints. You cannot imagine the kind of damage that has been done. Singaporeans being portrayed as puppets of the regime who agree with whatever the government says. However, I did e-mail the NGO that presented the play to explain that the authoritarian nature of the regime has prevented anti-death penalty activists from active campaigning. The Singapore media which has shamelessly been playing

along the official stance has an uncanny effect of brainwashing the general masses to believing that the death penalty is essential to keeping crime rates low.

My point is this: When we criticise the PAP regime, what we are criticising, is the PAP government. The PAP government is not synomynous with the people. Singapore belongs to Singaporeans, not the PAP government in power. As such, how can criticising our government (whether to fellow Singaporeans or outsiders) be construed as unpatriotic?

Moreover, this criticism is essential as criticism is a form of freedom of speech. If we are not allowed to criticise, then surely, there is no freedom of speech. Without freedom of speech, how can we claim ourselves to be a democracy?

In Australia, I have met Australians who are fierce critics of their own government. Does it make them unpatriotic when they tell me about their political situation?

Let us reverse the situation. If NUS decides to confer Mr John Howard a Doctor of Law, would Australians who dislike Howard and actively campaigned for it to happen, be branded as “unpatriotic”?

You also asked for a clear understanding of what SDP stands for. This can be accessed from the party website with stated strategies of how they can be achieved.

I would also disagree with your labelling of PAP’s autocratic “social-democratic” system. There is hardly anything democratic about the PAP when elections are

manipulated to prevent the Opposition from gaining seats. As for being “socialist”, I would like to know how the PAP government has tried to address the poverty-rich divide and the effectiveness of their policies.

You questioned if Chia Thye Poh and his “spirit” will inspire a “Nelson Mandela” or “Mahatma Gandhi” of Singapore? I don’t think anyone can answer that

question.

Yet, I do feel that the numerous critics that have been persecuted in different ways or another such as Mr JB Jeyaretnam, and Dr Chee Soon Juan have continued to perservere despite the odds. I believe their never-give-up spirit is something which we should be inspired by. Sure sometimes, we may question our beliefs. But we can always go back to what Mahatma Ghandi once said, “Dictatorships always fall. They ALWAYS DO.”

CHARLES TAN

President

Young Democrats