Chia Ti Lik’s Blog

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The Opposition – Where To?

This is the rough text of the speech given at the forum on 7th February 2009 Copthorne Orchid Hotel:

The speech is in three parts: 1. Role of Opposition, 2. Role of individual / civil society / blogger community and 3. PAP bashing.

We all know that it is difficult being the opposition in Singapore, election to office to date hangs on less than a glimmer of hope, whilst our country languishes in shit. The opposition must rise to the occasion to provide the leadership that is lacking in this nation. To do so would require the opposition to be active.

I do not propose to measure the best course of action by the number of votes it garnered. If you do not agree with me just look at Singapore now. The PAP has always won very general election. Now that is a majority vote – everytime. That is winning votes. But after winning votes in 12 GEs where are we now?
Accordingly I do not rule out pushing for beliefs and causes which one believes to be correct and which have yet to find mainstream appeal. The willingness to do so would be the hallmark of leadership.
Opposition diversity is encouraged. In fact diversity of all politics is encouraged simply because Singapore had its political scene dominated did it lack diversity.
The lack of diversity stifled creativity. The lack of creativity led to poor economic policies. The poor economic policies led our country into this plight and quandary.
But do not be mistaken, by diversity I do not mean diversity of activeness and willingness to engage. I meant diversity in the areas and causes and beliefs in which you wish to push for. If you believe in a certain cause my expectation then of you is for you to push it.
It is however irresponsible as any opposition party to seek election to public office in a General Election when one has not done the adequate work of challenging the Ruling party. If a party has remained silent and not provided any challenge to the ruling party, how can it be ready to take the place of the ruling party when the time comes for change?
Opposition unity and cooperation is necessary to avoid unnecessary wasted energy. But unity and cooperation and collective inactivity would do the movement worse. All opposition parties need only be clear of the fact that they exist to challenge the Ruling party – not to give them a passing grade. Opposition parties exist to make life difficult for the ruling party – and not to agree with them. Because there are always two sides of the coin, two sides to every story.
When the ruling party touts one policy and everyone accepts it and remains silent does it mean that the policy is correct? In Singapore, such policies get bulldozed through, many people equate popularity support as correctness, but if the policy is correct it would not need to be tweaked and changed every few years. As an example – just look at our education system. Look at the number of changes.
We know that politics is a dirty game. Opposition politics is fraught with difficulties, lawsuits, bankruptcy actions, no permission to leave country, ministers don’t need permits to assemble and protest, citizens have to apply for permits but no permits will be given, there is no real citizen’s right to assemble and protest, jail terms for opposition and activists, pre-emptive powers to detain people from congregating to assemble and protest.
These rules and threats make it difficult for the opposition to act like the opposition. To so requires balls. Those who have balls will get their fair share of lawsuits, bankruptcy and police harassment. I need not name them.
The opposition who choose to play within rules set by the PAP becomes inactive and will not be seen by the electorate as providing the leadership against the PAP. And breakthroughs in elections will in the light of the electoral rules made almost impossible.
What role does the civil society and blogging community fill in such a scenario?
As citizens, you have a right to be involved in politics. You are the cause and the reason and the end in politics. If you realize that the political parties are not making headway for whatever reason, it is always open to you to take the step forward into civil society to do what you think needs to be done. This can be done without the need to cater to concerns of being politically correct or be afraid to go against the grain of the mainstream opinion.
Civil society and the blogging community in being in partisan politics should not therefore view themselves as separate from politics. Instead they should free themselves from the shackles of partisan politics and the need to be politically correct to win votes but instead focus on highlighting concerns of causes which they believe in.
When each individual decides to do something about the situation on his own, he will in this day and age get easily plugged into a community which will put him in touch with the people who feel the same way as him/her. As likeminded are put together, they can collectively pool their energies and resources towards the causes they believe in. As no man is an island, pushing on social, economic or even political issues will put the civil society on the same path as an active and responsible opposition. As activism and understanding grows, then there might be the inclination to do more. The inclination to do more will put formerly unawakened citizens on the path to politics to joust for national leadership.
This path will set the stage for the rejuvenation of the opposition parties which at this point of time will be of utmost importance as I see that it will only be a matter of time before the PAP administration fails miserably and fails miserably to cover up for its errors.
One party state is not good for Singapore. One party state has produced weak leaders who are disconnected not only from the people but also from the markets.
MM claims that there is SGD100billion in reserves. And he says this was before the crisis. He says that the assets were liquidated before the crisis and investment in the banks. We all know that the bank investments failed. The prices of the stocks plummeted after they invested our hard earned money into those illiquid banks. Now he says this is for the long term 20 years 30 years.
We have a Minister in the Prime Minister’s office who spoke of rubbish towards one of our opposition MPs in parliament. He had asked Low Thia Khiang whether he would rather have a 9% CPF cut or have the Jobs Credit Scheme implemented. I cannot imagine having to pay so much for a minister who cannot even conduct a proper argument. How can a ministerial caliber brain be able to equate 9 % CPF as the only alternative to implementation of the Jobs Credit Scheme?
We have a Seng Han Thong burnt in an attack. We have threats levied against PAP MPs. The PAP has chosen not to look into the mirror in trying to solve the problem. Instead they are branding the attackers as IMH cases. Now don’t misunderstand me, I do not condone violence. What should be done to the attackers is for them to be placed before the court for the law to apply accordingly. These attackers should be made to stand trial, instead of putting them away in mental institutions.
Now when Seng Han Thong got burnt, I did not condone the attack but I was one of the very few who asked the PAP to reflect on itself. Now it looks like it has fallen on deaf ears.
RADM Lui Tuck Yew had the cheek to say that the blogger community had lost its chance to regulate itself. I suppose he meant to say that he now or rather his party now intends to regulate internet speech. Now why would a mighty government / party / minister want to regulate internet free speech? Is it because they are finding the heat unbearable to bear? I would say to him “If you can’t take the heat, please leave the kitchen.” This man is not an ordinary man, he happens to be a Rear admiral, the equivalent of a brigadier general.
Leadership in the armed forces is supposed to be forged and tested by the heat of combat and courage under fire. I would have expected our BGs and equivalents to be able to take bullets and shells firing at them and what we have here were just mere comments and criticisms towards one of them.
At this very I would say is our cabinet has grown soft and weak and if there is any hope for Singapore it would be for this leadership to be changed.


February 8, 2009 - Posted by | Politics


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