Filed under: Current Affairs and Politics, Dr Wong Wee Nam
Fear Factor Revisited: The S’pore Edition -
Politicophobia (The Fear of Politics)
By Dr Wong Wee Nam
December 29th 2007. Someone had called for Singaporeans to go and have dinner at Centrepoint. The dress code: anything in black. It was of course not a dinner gathering to celebrate the end of a year. It was just a symbolic dinner for those who want to express quietly their dissatisfaction over a number of issues that had affected their lives over the past year.
From the number who turned up, one can either conclude that Singaporeans are a very apathetic lot, resigned to their fate, or a very pathetic people who grumble but are unwilling to make their feelings heard. Or more likely – Singaporeans are still a very cowed lot when it comes to anything that even hints of politics.
The few who made their feelings known by coming in black obviously belong to a small minority in Singapore. They were definitely outnumbered by those curious people who turned up in other colours to see the action or those who wanted to participate but were to afraid to come properly attired.
One would expect that, with a better educated population and in the age of internet, the fear of reprisals from participation in civil activities would be far from the minds of the new generation.
But no, the postings on the Internet still talk of hidden cameras, spies and plainclothes policemen lurking around. From this, we can see that such fear still exists and has hardly been reduced in spite of our progress from a third to a first world country.
SDP makes pledge to fight cost of living in 2008
30 Dec 07
At its New Year gathering yesterday, the SDP told friends and supporters that it was gearing up for a campaign in 2008 against the PAP’s politics of greed and exploitation.
Noting how the price for everyday commodities have risen beyond the means of working Singaporeans, party secretary-general Dr Chee served notice that the Singapore Democrats would not take the matter lying down.
Such an exploitative posture taken by the ruling party must be resisted, he said, and the people must not adopt the mindset that they are powerless to do anything about it.
The dinner was attended by more than 50 persons, several of whom were at the Centrepoint Shopping Centre earlier in the evening in a black-shirt protest against a recent slew of price increases.
Thank you everyone who participated in Black Centrepoint 29 Dec 07!
After the event, some of us proceeded to SDP New Year dinner at Queen’s Hotel.
Excellent ST Forum letter on Singaporeans being disadvantaged by indiscriminate hiring of foreign workers
ST Reader Ms Goh Bee Lian has written an outstanding letter on how Singaporeans are disadvantaged by indiscriminate hiring of foreigners who do not have a proper command of the English language.
She was responding to a previous ST Forum letter by the Ministry of Manpower explaining how foreigners supplement Singapore’s workforce and why Singaporeans should seek to further enhance their employability through continuing education.
Ms Goh pointed out the stark truth that the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) had failed to heed repeated concerns that unskilled foreign workers who could not speak proper English were dominating the workplace as opposed to skill foreign workers. This is especially true in the service sector where they have been numerous complaints of shoddy work attitudes of foreign workers who somehow are able to land customer-service oriented jobs despite not being able to relate to others in English.
This is another instance when we should question how far does insurance really protect us and provide for our dependents?
To be sure, everyone needs insurance, especially those with dependents. But for cases involving Total and Permanent Disability (TPD), it is not so clear that our current insurance policies really offer the kind of protection we need.
Take the case of stroke victim Chiang Soong Chee mentioned in the ST article quoted below.
Mr Chiang was certified with TPD in 2001 when he came down with a stroke. He had received a total of $60,000 in compensation (in instalments) out of a total sum assured of $150,000 when the insurer NTUC Income decided to stop further payments in 2005 as his condition had improved to the point where he could find work, never mind that work was not the same kind of work as he was used to doing before.
When a person has come down with TPD, you can be sure he is no longer insurable, meaning he no longer qualifies to purchase additional insurance policies. This means Mr Chang is now uninsured against further illness or disability which may affect his livelihood in the future.
Five members of the Singapore Democratic Party as well as other supporters handed a letter to the Malaysian High Commission, expressing their opposition to the crackdown on protesters in the country.
The group, who all donned navy blue-collared T-shirts, included SDP Secretary-General Chee Soon Juan, his sister Siok Chin, and party chairman Gandhi Ambalam.
They arrived in three cars at the Malaysian High Commission at about 11.55am, and after a short wait, were allowed into the building in Jervois Road, off River Valley Road.
The High Commission had expected the visit and promptly ushered the Singapore Democrats into its premises. The SDP leaders were received by a senior official, Counsellor Zainudin Abdul Shukor.
A few journalists and members of SG Human Rights were also present to cover the activity, but they were not allowed in.
During the meeting, SDP Chairman Ambalam expressed the party’s concern at the undemocratic actions of the Malaysian Government. He then handed the letter over to Mr Zainudin who assured the delegation that it would be given to the High Commissioner.
This article is reproduced with permission from the Singapore Democratic Party.
Stand up and live with honour
14 Dec 07
Two million was not enough, three million was still too little, now Mr Lee Hsien Loong wants an additional $700,000 for his annual salary. His ministers want $500,000 more. The lust is unbridled.
Without any resistance, they will continue to take as they please. In the meantime working Singaporeans bear the brunt of the escalating cost of living.
This is a classic example of those in power milking the masses for their own gain. It is nothing new. Ancient Rome did it, Imperial China was a master at it, and Medieval Europe were brazen about it.
On 10 Dec 07 Monday, lawyers Chia Ti Lik and M. Ravi presented a petition to the Law Society calling for the establishment of a human rights sub-committee within the Law Society and calling for a strengthening of the independence of the judiciary, amongst other matters.
The content of the letter is as follows:
SG Human Rights commemorated Human Rights Day 2007 on 9 Dec at the Speaker’s Corner. Human Rights Day marks the anniversary of the United Nations General Assembly’s adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on 10 Dec 1948.
Speakers included Mr Mohd Jufrie Mahmood, social activist Bridget Lew, SDP Secretary-General Chee Soon Juan, and lawyers Chia TiLik, and M. Ravi.
The group reiterated its call for human rights commission to be set up in Singapore. Chia TiLik said that more attention needed to be paid to human rights if Singapore was to become a truly First World nation. The speakers also addressed a range of issues, from protection of foreign workers’ rights to the death penalty and lack of youth activism.
Individual versus community rights in Singapore, particularly in relation to freedom of speech and assembly
Some people have advanced the opinion that in Singapore, we should not complain about freedom of speech or expression, because while there are OB markers in place, we are basically free to do anything else that we like as long as we don’t run afoul of the law or violate those OB markers. Many Singaporeans do not feel restricted by the law or those unwritten OB markers as they feel they can conduct their daily lives without broaching on them.
But the law in Singapore is oppressive towards political dissent and broaches on individual rights. The rights of citizens must include the right to speak freely and the right to assemble. These are basic human rights, which we are lacking in Singapore.
In connection with the government’s repeated crackdown on protesters in Singapore, some have also advanced the notion that “individual liberty must be subordinate to the overall good of the community”, implying that protesters are necessarily a bad lot out to create trouble. But that is a statement based on a wrong assumption, namely, that individuals often try to act in a way that is prejudicial to the good of the community.