Ladies and Gentlemen,
We had just gone through the fanfare, the hustle and bustle of speeches upon speeches, the emotions and excitement of 9 whole days of election campaigning, which happens once every 5 years, in the island city state of Singapore until May 7, 2011 when it all suddenly came to an end; 81 of Lee Kuan Yew's PAP members won with 6 of the opposition. And with that, democracy itself came to a halt and went into hibernation to become alive again 5 years later in 2016!
You can compare this single instance of democratic activity to the rains that come to the Kalahari Desert in a flash between long intervals of many years. Suddenly the rains fall in a torrent for a few days, after which there is drought again for many years.
Names that we never heard before, some PhDs, even a medical doctor, managers and you name it, people you never heard before, they all came out of the blue and volunteered to become your leaders for democracy. Except for 6, they all lost and since that time, we have never heard of any of them again.
One of them was in fact permanently residing in Australia with a Singapore passport, returned and made very stirring speeches. Just like the others who have gone, we have never heard of him since that day; perhaps he has gone back to his home in Australia.
And the same with every other opposition politician hopefuls, they all appear to have gone; disappeared. Of course we have Chee Soon Juan and his dedicated handful of hardworking dedicated men and women who soldier along despite all odds, but beside these brave handful, no one appears to be around.
I am sorry to say, despite these brave and daring speeches during these elections coming from them, there seems to be a dire lack of will determination or dedication among the opposition camps, seeming only interested in propping up every 5 years, just before the elections to try their luck and disappearing immediately thereafter if they lost.
And how does a citizen hang his hopes and his destiny on leaders such as this who almost, I am sad to say, appear opportunists, trying to get into Parliament and otherwise they don't show any interest.
To be fair to them whom you see one minute and don't if you blink, the fault is not entirely theirs. The political climate of fear created by Lee Kuan Yew's PAP is to blame for this appalling disinterest.
Lets, face it, it takes almost superhuman will, not found in ordinary souls, but in a few such as Chee Soon Juan to withstand the onslaught of the PAPs non stop repression and punishment if one is seen to engage in political and social work on a regular basis.
First there is the fear that Lee might cause you to lose your job, you might lose your promotions, your children might similarly suffer and on the whole you may have to live an unhappy life, all because of your interest in opposition politics. Some would argue tht it is too much to ask of anyone to martyr themselves for a cause such as this, where repression and suffering is guaranteed but victory is uncertain.
Another impediment to espousing democratic values openly is the lack of an independent press, since they are all state controlled. Moreover you are not allowed to speak without permits, assemble without permits, and even if you arranged an assembly, it would not be reported in the state controlled press.
In these circumstance it is not surprising if the Australian resident has gone home to Australia and the doctor has gone back to practicing medicine and forgot entirely that he had made all those great speeches about all these great things he was going to do for the people of Singapore.
Which is why I come back to the same old mantra once again, which is, without freedom you will not have democracy and in order to have democracy, you have to have freedom. Which is another way of saying that unless you have the freedom of speech and the rule of law, you are not going to have any democracy either, since no one would be motivated to do anything under these impossible odds where their heads are under the chopping blocks.
Attorney at Law
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Tel: 510 657 6107
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