theonlinecitizen

a community of singaporeans

Packed audience at SDP forum

Posted by theonlinecitizen on April 14, 2007

The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) held a public forum to a packed audience of between 160 to 180 people at the Sheraton Towers hotel on friday.

The Singapore Police and the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) had earlier rejected the SDP’s application for professional visit passes to be given to its overseas speakers to speak at the forum on the grounds of “public interest”. (Channelnewsasia) The authorities had only informed the SDP of the decision the evening before the event, although the application was made 2 weeks prior, according to Ms Chee Siok Chin who was the host of the evening’s conference.

The overseas speakers were from the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), which included members of the European parliament and the Council of Asian Liberal and Democrats (CALD) which included a Cambodian and a Congresswoman from the Philippines.

The SDP is a member of the CALD.

In her opening address and expressing her “utter disappointment and dismay” at the government’s ban on the foreign speakers from speaking, Ms Chee told the audience, “Clean, affluent, efficient and modern Singapore is probably the only country in the world that professes to be democratic but prohibits international democrats from addressing the Singapore public.”

She then took issue with the GST increase and the recent hike in ministers’ salaries. Relating how some Singaporeans have told her that they regretted how they voted in the last general elections, she urged Singaporeans not to wait the next 4 years to register their disapproval for the “uncaring attitude of the Singapore government”.

“Why should citizens act only once every 5 years, when they go to the polls to cast their ballot? And even then, not every Singapore citizen gets to vote. Why can’t Singaporeans register their disquiet in a peaceful, lawful manner other than the one every 5 years at the ballot boxes?”

Urging the audience to participate in the acitivities of the SDP and to work together with them, Ms Chee said, “We must not let the PAP government disempower us. Singapore belongs to us, everyone of us in this room and every Singaporean on this island.”

After Ms Chee had spoken, the audience was asked to stand up for 45 seconds and to hold aloft the yellow piece of paper (which had been distributed before the start of the forum) to demonstrate their disapproval of the recent increase in ministerial salaries.

The audience obliged readily as press photographers clicked away.

Introducing the next speaker, John Tan, as someone with a masters degree in social psychology, Ms Chee quipped, “Now, who said the opposition cannot attract qualified people?”

In his short speech, Mr Tan gave a brief description of his experience of civil society and political participation in the United States and how he came to join the SDP. Having spent some years in the US, Mr Tan told the room that he had taken part in public protests and forums there. “There’d be Democrats and Republicans in the same room. They’d argue, and even look like they’re fighting! But when it’s all over, they’re friends. Now, why can’t Singapore be like that?”

After returning to Singapore, he got to know and met with Dr Chee Soon Juan and Ms Chee. His first SDP involvement was to be part of the Hong Lim park protest last year. “And I’ve never looked back since”, he added.

Following Mr Tan’s speech, Ms Chee read out a press statement from the ALDE-CALD delegation. (The release can be found here.)

Next to take the stage was the SDP’s secretary-general Dr Chee Soon Juan. Smartly dressed in his coat and tie, Dr Chee presented a slide show entitled “Singapore Success Story – A Fairy Tale Of The PAP”.

Taking aim at the government’s claims of economic achievements, including the issue of income disparity, Dr Chee questioned if Singaporeans are really reaping the fruits of their labour. Presenting statistics and figures of household incomes and wages of the lower income workers, Dr Chee asked if Singaporeans are as well off as the government claims.

He also showed how Singapore compares unfavorably with Hong Kong, particularly addressing the point which MM Lee Kuan Yew had made in parliament recently, namely that Singapore’s GDP is only one-third of its external trade.

Dr Chee also spoke on the Wee Shu Min saga and quoted excerpts from Ms Wee’s blog post. He asked if this is the kind of society we have become.

“Even if we have sterling numbers, what are we doing to society? What’re we doing for society? More than 50% of young Singaporeans want to migrate or live in another country!”

“In every aspect, tell me hand on heart, that the PAP has done a good job.”

Dr Chee ended with this message for the audience:

“I was born Singaporean, I grew up Singaporean and I will die Singaporean. But being Singaporean doesn’t mean I cannot speak up against the PAP. It is my solemn duty and I hope you will feel that it is yours too. To speak up for a country that we love.”

A question and answer session followed Dr Chee’s address.

The forum was indeed very well attended. Extra chairs had to be brought in for late comers who were standing at the back of the room. The local media, which I understand was alerted at the last minute that the forum was going ahead despite the authorities’ ban on the foreign guests from speaking, was there as well.

A check with the reception outside the room showed that the SDP paraphernalia, which was being displayed for sale, had almost sold out. These included specially printed t-shirts and Dr Chee’s various books including The Power Of Courage.

*Theonlinecitizen apologises for being unable to provide reports of the Q&A session because of technical hiccups in its recording.

Read also:
CNN:
Singapore restricts debate on ministers’ pay
BBC:
Europe MPs ‘gagged’ by Singapore
Scandasia: Danish Politician Threatened With Arrest in
Singapore
EU Business: Gagged Euro MPs slam ‘authoritarian’
Singapore

 

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20 Responses to “Packed audience at SDP forum”

  1. Joshy said

    Too bad the general public doesn’t really get to see the passionate side of Mr Chee other than the unruly psycho side that the media portrays of him, otherwise support for democracy in Singapore would have been more upfront.

  2. The government said one thing, but their action said another thing.
    They said they want to hear more feedback from the people. But by not giving a permit to SDP to hold a forum in a hotel is hypocracy.

  3. LKY Mothre said

    I think the SDP must fight the PAP constitutionally.
    The constitution maybe flawed and the
    current government could be illegal.
    Does anyine care to look into the lawful
    aspect of the legality of the PAP government?

  4. Hi LKY Mothre,

    Thank you for visiting theonlinecitizen.

    May I request that you do not post very long articles in the comments section? It would be better if you could email it to us instead, and we’ll see if we can publish them.

    Our email is theonlinecitizen@gmail.com

    Thanks.

    Regards,
    theonlinecitizen

  5. article19 said

    Hi TOC, thank you for the write-up on the forum.:-) I wanted to attend but was unable to. Its good that blogs, such as yourselves, and websites report on such events as the local media’s a national disgrace on such things!:-(

  6. Article19,

    Thanks. We hope we have done a fair job. 🙂

    Regards,
    theonlinecitizen.

  7. watchtowerv said

    John Tan talked on his journey of understanding democracy and joining SDP at SDP forum on Apr 13, 2007.

  8. Who’s that fat ang ugly moh at the back holding up the yelllow card… oh that’d be me…

  9. Hi watchtowerv,

    Thanks for the link. It was heartening to see John Tan on stage -after having seen him at the Freedom Walk. He is indeed a very courageous person.

    Hats off ot the man!

    Regards,
    theonlinecitizen

  10. Hi expat@large,

    Hahaha..it is really you. Cool. Nice write-up on your site too. Careful now. The singapore govt might wanna gag you too. You are a foreigner, after all, right? Hahaha.

    Foreigners aren’t allowed to speak about “Singapore’s domestic politics” – unless of course it is unbridled praise for our “extraordinary” government. 🙂

    Thanks for the link to your site!

    Regards,
    theonlinecitizen

  11. watchtowerv said

    See also:

    John Tan at Empower Protest
    http://watchtowerv.myphotoalbum.com/view_photo.php?set_albumName=album06&id=Day3_0038

    John Tan at Freedom Walk
    http://watchtowerv.myphotoalbum.com/view_album.php?set_albumName=album07

  12. Noah said

    Kew Kah Fatt,
    don’t you realized by now that our newspaper is propaganda ?

    First, the free speech and openness in Singapore by PM and whities that published at every front page of newspaper is not manned for Singaporean ! It is manned for AngMoh, those that gov suck ass and afraid of, especially Mr Bean. They want to wayang to those AngMoh that we have democracy and prosperity in which we know better to be none since we stay in Singapore.

    Because AngMoh can only monitor our progress through our newspaper and believe likewise. But once, AngMoh step in Singapore, their ass is mine so think our damn cunning gov.

    Why gov so afraid of AngMoh ? Because these angmoh has power not to business with Singapore by their law, which human right law .

    Now, dude, you understand why so let us worship AngMOh.

    Let’s pray.
    AngMoh, pleae help us to get rid of this evil gov and help us to upgrade my flat at AngMokio because AngMoKia really sound like AngMOh’s place !

  13. According to “an MFA spokesman” the European Parliament members were “free to express their views in the European Parliament or post them on the Internet. But they should not come to Singapore to participate in a domsetic political event.” ST Sat H6.

    I post my views on the Internet (on a USA host). I said nothing at the meeting. I did not come to Singapore to participate in this event anyway, I came for work 3 years ago and am just intriguied to watch the Governemnt squirm in it’s current self-inflicted awkward position on GST and pay!

    And I did not think of as a domestic political event – it was advertised as a meeting to two international organisations, CALD and ALDE! – but ended up looking like as a ‘domestic’ event of the SPD as only they were permitted to speak! I cam expecting to hear something of
    international democracy and liberalism.

    As far as the FMA quote in ST about Singaporeans making the political decision for Singapore, well that’s just laughable… The ability of Singaporean (not the Europeans, they weren’t deciding anything) to make any better informed “decisions” based on potentially useful information from the Europeans was restricted by this gag. cf K. Popper and Closed Societies.

    cheers

  14. thebonemachine said

    I am heartened to know that even “foreign talents” are taking an interest in local issues now and that they really feel for them!

  15. bornSingaporean said

    Don’t worry la, expat@large the AngMoh,
    the PAP won’t dare to touch AngMoh because AngMoh is rich and wealthy, and been rich and wealthy means PAP will love and adore you since they are elite and same species.

    Since you will have watch the video on Said Zahari, you will probably realize that LKY love the the ass of Britain ppl and satisfy their demand too, because of been AngMoh. What more, LKY graduated from elite AngMoh Cambridge School, and Australia National University give him degree and Australian is AngMoh too. That’s why LKY love AngMoh.

    Singaporean can’t give him anything at all because he say we immature and probably cannot give the thing AngMoh can.

    What can I say. I be one of those planning to migrate before the next election as soon as I clear the big fat debt of a typical Singaporean.

  16. bornSingaporean said

    I’m pretty sad that after 4 decades of nation-building, the brutal truth is that we been con into PaidAndPaid scam. My father have suffered in this arena, but I decide not to. Money-culture is what PAP’s belief in the nation-building ??? If not for the internet and blogging, I be probably be con for rest of my life !!!! Truth be told.

    PaidAndPaid, WorkAndWork, DebtAndDebt, GSTandGST, CarrotAndCarrot, etc.

  17. Expat@Large, good point on the international democracy and liberalism. It’s ironic that the MHA actually made this into a SDP
    ‘s sales pitch when it was supposed to be a forum on international affairs.

  18. Jurong said

    Chee wanna visit his old pals in jail again? 😉

  19. Speak-up! said

    Kudos to Dr Chee!

    Here is one brave guy who is willing to fight for the democratic rights of Singaporeans. Not afraid to be bankrupted and jailed for his beliefs.

    Same to his sister and others like John Tan.

    Hail the brave warriors!

  20. See my website at http://sg.geocities.com/alex_kew/ , the various articles I wrote and correspondence I have with others. Click Election ’84, Election ’97 and Election 2001 and you can find my pieces on politics.

    Speakers’ Corner is free but very few make use of this place to its full uses. It is really a pity to see this sorry state of affair.

    Ang Moh have no culture of their own, so why you want to ape them ? Their Christianity is from Israel, their culture revolve around the Bible.

    At least the Chinese have own Taoism and Confucianism plus others. Its culture is rich but many Chinese feel inferior because they do not fully understand the potential of Chinese culture on the world.

    In Malichi chapter verses 4 and 5 speak about reincarnated Elijah to preach Confucianism to the world. If not the world will be condemned.

    Noah wrote:
    Kew Kah Fatt,
    don’t you realized by now that our newspaper is propaganda ?

    First, the free speech and openness in Singapore by PM and whities that published at every front page of newspaper is not manned for Singaporean ! It is manned for AngMoh, those that gov suck ass and afraid of, especially Mr Bean. They want to wayang to those AngMoh that we have democracy and prosperity in which we know better to be none since we stay in Singapore.

    Because AngMoh can only monitor our progress through our newspaper and believe likewise. But once, AngMoh step in Singapore, their ass is mine so think our damn cunning gov.

    Why gov so afraid of AngMoh ? Because these angmoh has power not to business with Singapore by their law, which human right law .

    Now, dude, you understand why so let us worship AngMOh.

    Let’s pray.
    AngMoh, pleae help us to get rid of this evil gov and help us to upgrade my flat at AngMokio because AngMoKia really sound like AngMOh’s place !

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