Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Singapore. Low Thia Khiang is a let down for the cause of democracy

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is unfortunate that Singapore produces opposition politicians such as Low Thia Khiang. I have known him for 6 years while I was a member of the Workers Party, and this much I can say for him. He does not understand what a constitutional democracy is supposed to be; not forgetting that Singapore is, or at least is supposed to be a constitutional democracy.

He is very good in Hokkien and Teochew oratory to Chinese hawkers and grocery shop merchants in Hougang who do not know any English. For him to tell them that such and such policies are good or bad; get their support and enter Parliament to merely argue on policies is what he does. He does not have a sound education in English, let alone any understanding as to what a democracy is supposed to be. In fact, it appears to me that he does not believe in democracy but rather in the style of the Chinese politburo form of government; where the Chinese have no fundamental rights and the rulers decide on rules and laws which they feel would move the country forward; with or without freedom.

To the educated freedom is fundamental. Without it, there cannot be progress in this day and age. In any case, most educated people do not want progress if it comes with a denial of freedom. Low Thia Khiang does not understand any of this.

I am referring to his interview with the Chinese language press which was published in the Straits Times Nov 1, 2007.

He says "the term opposition is a legacy of the western parliamentary system and I have never believed that an opposition party should oppose for the sake of opposing or to shoot one's mouth off". He is wrong. Opposition derived from ancient Greece, ancient China and even ancient India where debate was encouraged so that, through consensus the best idea wins, and the country wins and progresses. It predated western parliamentary system by ions. Secondly he is wrong in "saying western opposition parties oppose for the sake of opposing or that they shoot one's mouth off". I wonder were he got such ideas, or is he saying these things because it pleases the PAP?

He then says "Politics should be responsible politics". Surely that is so. Is he suggesting that anyone would want it any other way? And we have no problem with his statement that "Opposition should be a watchdog, not a mad dog". That too we all agree. Why mention this. Or is he trying to say that the SDP is behaving otherwise?

He seems to be stating the obvious. "It is not the job of the opposition here to offer alternatives to all government policies". Yes Mr. Low. Here too we all agree. This is obvious.

He says "While the ruling party has specialists to study and research various issues, the opposition lacks the resources to come up with alternative issues". But Mr. Low, the ruling party uses taxpayers money to employ specialists. Similarly, when the opposition form the government, they will too. This does not prevent you to speak for the people; to defend their rights and to further their interest.

The WP, he says is "unlike the opposition parties in the west who come up with alternative policies for everything". He is wrong. Not just in the west, but also in the north the south and the east; throughout the world; good opposition parties come up with alternatives where they see the need. Not for everything. The man is engaging in rhetoric and nonsensical rhetoric at that.

Mr. Low is supposed to not only challenge government policies but if necessary, to throw them out and form a new government and not just "to improve on government policies". If that is all that he believes the work of the opposition is; he should step down immediately and stop being a spokesman for the Peoples Action Party.

He says 'the opposition should not shoot its mouth off and offer alternatives and policies on a whim'. I agree entirely and may I add that to my knowledge, no one has yet in Singapore behaved that way recently. The problem is that the opposition, like his, is not saying anything at all!

I am astonished at Mr. Low's statement that the opposition "should not offer alternative policies before it has reached a certain stage, until they have reached the stage of being able to replace the government and that WP is a long way off". Believe it or not, he is suggesting that the opposition or his version of it, should continue waiting and let the PAP do whatever they want because in all areas, the PAP have more experience than the WP. Is this not the chicken and the egg scenario. If the opposition does not challenge the PAP, they will not get the experience. And since they do not have the experience, they should not challenge the PAP! Is there not something patently wrong in his reasoning?

And what is worse " He believes that his party is not prepared to challenge the PAP in the near future, and that it will take a very long time". In that case, why did he stand for elections under the WP ticket anyway. Has he not misled his people?

In a few words, this man has let down his people. The Chinese speaking kway teow man in Hougang food court may not be aware of this, but an English speaking college graduate knows this very well.

Whether he likes it or not, he should be told that Singapore is a constitutional democracy. In other words there is a constitution. In it, the people have rights. These rights are inalienable. It is not up to the government's discretion to provide it or not. It is mandatory. These rights are being trodden upon. Right of Freedom of speech is being trodden upon. Right of assembly is trodden upon. Lee claims Singapore is first world. First world countries have these rights.

And finally Singapore is not Guandong or Beijing. Hu Jintao may sit with his Chinese Parliament in deciding how and what rights shall be denied. If he wants Chinese style democracy, then he should go there. What we are supposed to have in Singapore is a constitutional democracy, which had it's roots in Ancient Greece. Singapore is an English speaking country. Not a Teochew speaking country. The laws of Singapore are written in the English language. He should know this by now.

Originating from the ideas of Aristotle and Socrates.

Mr. Low does not appear to know the principles of government, and appears to have no inclination or desire to learn it now. Very sad.

Gopalan Nair
39737 Paseo Padre Parkway, Suite A1
Fremont, CA 94538, USA
Tel: 510 657 6107
Fax: 510 657 6914
Email: gopalnair@us-immigrationlaw.com

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mr Low is sec gen of WP and respected by Singaporeans.

You, on the other hand, have run away to a faraway land dishing out your sermons.

That says it all.

When are u coming back to do what you say? Never? Haha

Gopalan Nair said...

Hello Anonymous,

Is that all you can say?

Gopalan Nair
Fremont, CA, USA

TACL said...

http://politics.sgforums.com/?action=thread_display&thread_id=289113

GC Chwee said...

A good rebuttal. If only the ST will run opt ed such as this.

Jamie Lynn said...

This is such a good article. Your rebuttal to Low Thia Kiang's chicanery, obfuscation, and gerrymandering is direct and accurate. This is what I call political critique at its best.

This is the kind of talent we need at the political helm of Singapore, not the half-baked puerile self-serving attitudes espoused by Low Thia Kiang. I don't have to mince my words in calling a spade a spade.

Ng E-Jay

Anonymous said...

Hi Mr Gopalan,

I agree with you 100%. The present WP has betrayed the ideals and goals of the Old Guard like JBJ and yourself.

I have published your article together with acknowledge on my blog dedicated to exposing the WP.

Please forward it to all your friends and let them know what kind of opposition WP is.

www.wayangparty.wordpress.com

Anonymous said...

It is very important for the PAP to lose one GRC to the WP at the next General Elections.

Singaporeans will therefore be elated and convinced that elections is the way to get rid of the PAP.

In return for for a small price of such, the PAP can then have the extension of its hold on power for another 20 years or even longer.

Anonymous said...

Low Thia Khiang must have been hoodwinked, brainwashed and tripped up by Lee Con-You - like so many others before him. The relative comfort of receiving a monthly MP allowance of $13,200 monthly (and quite possibly 2 added months of GDP bonuses) and inactivity in-between elections must have softened him considerably, leading him to develop a malaise known as self-inflicted political macular degeneration syndrome.

An intellect he is certainly not, and it looks like he has taken WP as a political force as far as he can do and now is the time for him to relinquish the secretary-general position to someone with more fight and panache in his stomach.

It's not a matter of watchdog or barking dog, but by virtue of being an elected opposition figure in this farce of a parliament dominated by MPs more pro-moneyism than pro-people, the weight and expectation of the 33.3% lies on his shoulders and he has to consciously and stridently speak up, and be seen to speak up, for the welfare and constant care of the worker class, highlighting the unrelenting hardship and daily sufferings faced by the common workers attributed to the woeful and inadequate policies and ineptitude of the pappies, vis-a-vis the obscene salaries being paid to the MIWs, compounded by the plight of losing their jobs to new immigrants - those leeches and parasites who never did a single day of NS nor reservist in defence of the country. In spite of having the highest "compulsory" saving rates in the world (once topping 40% of their wages), these common workers face a real danger of living out the remaining period of their lives during retirement in abject poverty when their CPF retirement savings run out faster than they die and thus robbing them of living out their retirement in as dignified a way as possible - after years of toiling and building up the fledging economy. What next when money no enough - mass suicide ceremonies for citizens above 85?

Really, Low Thia Khiang, what else have you missed? Worker Party or Wayang Party, you decide.

Anonymous said...

The term "opposition" is still mainstream but Low has rejected this concept outright.

Actually he needs not to do that. In spite of the fact that many PAP detractors kept romancing the opposition in Singapore, the honest question to ask is : "Where's the opposition?"

When major issues like the CPF and Shin Corp were talk of the town, the opposition presence and voice was so muted - just a few minutes speech in Parliament or an article or two at their websites.

Of course they can blame the press and PAP for suppressing their views. Really?

Why then does Low still get interviewed and reported by the press? Long article some more.

That people still look up to the opposition is more a reaction to PAP rather than an expression of real support.

Otherwise the election results would reflect the massive crowds at their election rallies.

A frank self-appraisal by the opposition is thus needed. No point blaming the voters.

Worse still to resort to angry challenges and threats on the Net to critics like : "Why don't you come and join us instead of just criticising us."

That just sounds too much like PAP which used to challenge critics in this same manner. Looks like WP has adopted its master's policy?

So just stop all the excuses, opposition. You are just a lame duck.

Anonymous said...

Low Thia Khiang must have been hoodwinked, brainwashed and tripped up by the pappies - like so many others before him. The relative comfort of receiving a monthly MP allowance of $13,200 monthly (and with 2 added months of GDP bonuses that's a hefty S$184,800 per year in total) and inactivity in-between elections must have softened him considerably, leading him to develop a malaise known as political myopia and macular degeneration syndrome - all self-inflicted. For getting $184,800 a year, what significant changes, impact or improvement to the workers' lives has he truly brought about during all his years in parliament?

An intellect he is certainly not, and it looks like he has taken WP as a political force as far as he can do and now is the time for him to relinquish the secretary-general position to someone with more panache and fight in his stomach.

It's not a matter of watchdog or barking dog, but by virtue of being an elected opposition figure in this farce of a parliament dominated by MPs more pro-moneyism in their genome than pro-people welfare, the weight and expectation of the 33.3% lies on his shoulders and he has to consciously, stridently and regularly speak up, and be seen to speak up in public, for the welfare and constant improvement of the worker class, highlighting the unrelenting hardship and sufferings faced by ordinary workers attributed to the woeful and abject policies and ineptitude of the pappies, vis-a-vis the obscene million salaries being paid to the MIWs, all the more compounded by the plight of having their jobs snatched up by new immigrants - those leeches and parasites who never did a single day of NS nor reservist in defence of the country. In spite of having the highest "compulsory" saving rates in the world (once topping 40% of their wages), these ordinary workers face a real danger of living out the remaining period of their lives after retirement in real poverty when their CPF retirement savings run out faster than they die and thus robbing them of living out their retirement in as dignified a manner as possible after years of toiling and building up the fledging 3rd world economy after independence. What next when money no enough at the crippled old age of 85 - ship the elderly folks to some remote island or coerce them to take their own lives when desperation sets in? Talk about silence of the lambs ...... We need a Zorro-hero figure to save us - and for that Low Thia Khiang does not fit since he doesn't want to bark even when he encounters cunning thieves.

Really, Low Thia Khiang, what else have you missed? Worker Party or Wayang Party, you go decide.

Anonymous said...

Hi Gopalan,
Being a Australian-Singaporean dual citizen (soon-to-be FORMER Singaporean) who has randomly stumbled upon your site, I find it a pleasure to read. I believe the problem with most Singaporeans is the fact that they are ignorant, unaware of what real freedom means. Having lived in Australia for the last 4 years whilst pursuing my university education, I must admit that never in my life have I ever felt more relieved - the fact that I can say what I want, when I want, without fear of being thrown in jail for making politically "incorrect" comments. When I was offered the australian citizenship last year, I took it up without a second thought. No doubt many will say that I am a "quitter" etc, but the fact of the matter is, besides the fact that I get paid about 3 times what I would get in Singapore as a professional, the lifestyle, affordability of good FREEHOLD housing, cheap cars, and most importantly, freedom of speech, are the overriding factors affecting my choice. Never will I live in Singapore, a country where I will be cheated, oppressed, and taken for a fool.

P.S. For all you singaporeans who have the opportunity to go overseas, take it. The experience will open your eyes to what true democracy really means.

A "Quitter"

Anonymous said...

Keep up the good work exposing the evils of Singapore politics.

Vincent said...

Opposition parties should kick PAP's ass and not kiss their ass. I am disappointed with WP for talking crap like that to play it safe and not offend PAP.