19 May 2006

You can't fight for democracy on bended knees

From the Singapore Democrat:

For the past seven days, the Singapore Democrats have been in here 9Sam's Alfresco Coffee Shop) taking jabs, upper cuts and even a couple of left hooks. Several more embraced us and gave us a hearty "Fight on!"

I'd like to do a quick round up of some of the more memorable moments.

Playing by the rules

Some of you felt that the SDP needed to soften its image, keep a lower profile, adopt a different direction altogether or do all three. In other words, don't clash head-on with the PAP. Play within the rules.

Yes, we said. But please, pray tell, what are the rules? The PAP changes them like it changes underwear.

First they introduce the GRC system, then they say that political videos are banned, then the threaten voters with upgrading, then they increase the candidate's election deposit by almost 170 percent, then they give out money during elections, then they require nominators to be present at the Nominating Centres, then they outlaw podcasting, then they require the candidates to pay for security...what next? Electronic voting?

Yes, electronic voting. When that happens, we will not need counting agents anymore because there will be nothing to count. All the votes will be reduced to binary bits and bytes, and tallied by a computer program. Scary, isn't it?

Can we at least get an independent body to make the rules where contesting parties have a say instead of leaving everything to the PAP? How dumb does the PAP think we are, anyway? (Pretty dumb, actually, if you consider the fact that they've been winning ten elections on the trot - hands down! And the way things look presently another ten in the years to come if we don't do anything about it.)

This is why the Singapore Democrats are yelling to whoever will listen that we've got to get the rules governing democratic elections down pat. That means making sure that the newspapers won't print 7 pages of we-love-you type of reports for the PAP and one ok-so-you're-contesting page for the opposition. It also means ensuring that the people can assemble in between elections not just to go for RC walk-a-jogs but to stage meaningful and peaceful protests.

Without reform the opposition will still be getting dragged from pillar to post even when the MM is 120 years old.

Without reform we will never be able to stop the kind of talk that Mr Lee Hsien Loong makes about "fixing" the opposition and "buying" support.

Without reform we would never be able to look our children in the eye and tell them that we stopped them from reciting the lie in school everyday that we are building "a democratic society, based on justice and equality."

Using Nonviolence

So what do we do? The SDP suggested that we take a serious look into the use of Nonviolent Civil Action and, if need be, civil disobedience to persuade the PAP to refrain from bullying the opposition and the people.

Cries of "Our situation is different from that of other countries", "Singaporeans are too immature", "We can't achieve democracy overnight" immediately went up from some forumers.

We explained that NV Civil Action is not a one-size-fits-all strategy. Activists in every country and society need to look at the circumstances in which they operate and tailor the principle of NV (which is essentially the proactive use of peaceful means to achieve a political/social/economic goal) for their own needs.

The Singapore Democrats continue to have faith in our people and that Singaporeans do care about values such as justice, political rights, and information free-flow. This is not conjecture because 40 years ago, Singaporeans demonstrated that they cared about freedom and democracy when they sacked the British colonialists from the island.

It is the PAP, after it took control of the country, that drummed into our heads that we are a useless people who would degenerate into incompetent "lumpen masses" without PAP control (to quote a certain Mr Lee).

On the point about achieving democracy overnight, the SDP would be the last to say that the reform effort can be carried out hurriedly. As Rome was not built in a day, so democracies cannot be delivered express. Strategies need to be thought out, activists need to be trained, and people need to be made aware. This will take much time which is all the more reason for us to start now.

'Now' means 27 May 2006. It's the day when the SDP will organise a workshop to draw up an action-agenda that will chart out a Road Map for Democracy in Singapore (please see other announcement in other post). We hope to see you then.

Thank you

We promised we would stop making a nuisance of ourselves after seven days and we will keep to our word and take leave of this forum. It has been wonderful meeting you even though we have not seen a single face or shaken a solitary hand.

On behalf of Charles Tan, Chee Siok Chin, and Gandhi Ambalam, I thank all of you for coming into this thread and making our political lives that much richer. We hope that we have done the same for you.

Our only regret is that we have not been able to respond to all of your posts or have done so inadequately. For that, please accept our sincerest apologies. Perhaps we will find another opportunity to exchange our views.

But even as we leave cyberspace, we will be here in real space to continue to speak up for you. We ask that you make our fight less lonely by coming forth and joining us in our struggle.

Throughout the week our message to our fellow Singaporeans has been: Have courage. You cannot fight for democracy on bended knees! We carry this message with us into the future.

Yours truly,

Chee Soon Juan
Singapore Democrats

12 comments:

Dave said...

i am glad that Chee Soon Juan see some light in the way SDP has been conducting itself - which has been completely disastrous - in fact, he did the opposition movement a great disservice. It is my sincere hope & many people as well, that the SDP fail & fizzle out. But I hope Siok Chin & the few young SDP members will join up with the WP - she has so much potential unlike her impetous brother (just cannot imagine any person, not even a leader, who cannot control his emotions in public).

I agree with him that we should not fight on bended knees. But i beg to differ on his methods - so far it has alienated a lot of opposition well wishers. He should learn from WP - there is always a more intelligent and less emotional way to address any heart felt or perceived injustice. His demonstration of very childish behaviour in public only reflects on his instability as a person. I doubt he can get any position of responsibility as a manager even in the private sector.

And the way Low Thia Kiang is doing it for WP is very admirable. He is the sort of leader we want in the opposition - intelligent, cool & composed leader who strategizes & plan ahead. He demonstrate that he is not afraid to recruit the best people while you see in SDP real chaos, disarray & i doubt he has any ability to lead the party...just a loner who crashed with the law all the time...getting angry & going nowhere. I suspect he is a schizophrenic or mentally disturbed - maybe he should go for mental treatment.

If Chee cannot even put his own party in order, how can he even begin to think of bigger issues.

I hope Chee retires from politics & go away. He will only retard opposition credibility. Sometimes I think he is quite retarded in his thinking despite his PhD. How else do you expect from someone who shouts & misbehave in public?? Who brings so many of his SDP members including his sister into trouble? Its not a fight standing up, its a demonstration of stupidity. He is actually quite a disgrace to Singapore - i just hope he doesnt represent us overseas.

Anonymous said...

its not about issues that Chee brings up- those are very valid issues for the opposition & the general public to address. Its his manner of approach - which is no approach but simply brute strength bull fights without much strategy or thinking.

chris said...

I would like to say a word of fairness for Dr Chee.

I do not agree with his methods, but I respect him nonetheless for taking up issues and demonstrating them the way he had done. Maybe he impede the opposition movement. Maybe he advanced their causes in the hearts of those who identify with his struggles.

By comparing him with LTK and his methods with WP's, we are doing ourselves a great disservice. Don't get me wrong. I fully enjoyed WP's strategies in this GE and they fought a beautiful battle. But let's not forget that more than 1 in 5 voted for SDP in the constituencies they stood in. We are "playing" PAP when we pass judgements and call for SDP to change their strategies. SDP is one of the choices too. Let the people decide. Forget about pronoucements. We do not want to be PAP, do we?

andre said...

I agree with Chris. Dr Chee needs more encouragement in his struggle esp for the man in the street.

I also hope that he changes tact & be more stable in his ways. Consistency is very important mark of a leader. To be able to gain the commitment of a team is no easy task -is another important thing Dr Chee needs to learn. He seems to be charging alone - if he can only provide consistent behaviour & work within the SDP team, he will be one step closer to being more effective. Then he will attract more able people to help him. Or perhaps, he should pass the secretary general position to Siok Chin - and he be in the supportive role. He could be the think tank & Siok Chin leads instead.

Anonymous said...

it's already too late for SDP; the party is down to brother and sister and given the success of WP and SDA(limited as that might be) the smart money will go there

CSJ should go to harvard like francis seow, and let the more skillful operators have the stage

Anonymous said...

Please lah, Chee! You are the best Wayang MOLE that I have seen. First, you cunningly tear SDP apart and now try your best to make opposition look like hooligans. Please.......... F*** OFF!!! Any WP member reading this, please inform Mr Low not to allow any mole to take shape in WP.

Anonymous said...

anon3 - Please bring your far-fetched ideas somewhere else. Or at least argue your point with more maturity.

Anonymous said...

please dont tell me you think CSJ made SDP stronger rather than destroying it...if you do, you must be a PAP spy too...

Thomas T said...

i used to support Dr Chee - he seemed so promising in the beginning. In singapore politics, all the fighting can make a man bitter & lose track of what he is suppose to represent. From then on, its downhill, preoccupied with personal attacks & a life time of vendetta against each other. Bitterness & an instinctive attack at whatever the other party represents. Any issues became another opportunity to appease the constant uneasiness of wounded pride, bitterness & to remain justified in "fighting" for the cause. It became a very personal battle, no longer for the right causes, but to address personal indignity & loss of self esteem.
I wish Dr Chee well, but I hope he takes a step back. There is always time to turn around & start over again & win the trust in his own team & the public in general. More importantly, he truly believe in his heart that he represents the cause of the common man instead of feeding his wounded pride.

I guess the WP showed how one can remain above all that - Gomez case showed that WP can walk tall by walking away from all the taunts the PAP threw at them. LTK completely refused to react to the trap & this turns out well for both the WP & the Oppposition. There were moments where LTK looked exasperated with the constant insinuations & was about to shoot back but he showed tremendous restrain. True mark of a leader LTK is! If its Dr Chee, i suppose he will react to the trap without thinking & launch a big campaign against injustice, etc & probably got foreign parties involved, completely ignoring advice from his team...and i can envisage it would have been extremely intractible in the end, prob with Gomez deeper into the issue. But then, Gomez is with WP..thankfully.

Anonymous said...

CSJ's ideas are good. it's his tactics that kept playing into the scheming pappies trap. Although in most 1st world countries, the most he recd would just be verbal rebuttal against his accusations of the MIW, but unfortunately in Sinkiland, mere insinuation which he may not be aware of will land him into big trouble.
Take the eg of the Jurong incident, all he was asking againt GCT was whether there was this loan to Indonesia (after all we all would also like to know)Unfornately, its all been twisted to the pappies advantage in the lawsuits. I dont see such lawsuits happeing in US, 1st world European countries or even in Japan or Korea

anonymous3 said...

Thank you anonymous5. For anon4, I believe that when I started work, you were still swimming in your dad's ba**s, so don't tell me to be mature. Maybe you are Chee, but no ba**s to review your name.

Matilah_Singapura said...

I support anyone who does whatever he likes with his private property - as long as he leaves my private property alone!

So Dr Chee, go for it! It's your life! Best of luck in your pursuit of happiness!