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.
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