Nation Building or Party Building?

Some time ago, I came out from a Grassroots Induction Programme feeling intoxicated after being overly-fed with PAP-ganda.

This was a session organised by the People’s Association (PA) and I was there to discover more about the overview of the association.

Interestingly, the PA’s vision is “to be a leading organisation in building an active community where all contribute readily to the nation.”

However after listening to the speeches and reading through the handed materials, I concluded that the vision of the PA should be more accurately communicated as “contributing readily to the PAP”, and not our nation.

In fact, after understanding that the PA’s existence was to achieve a political objective- “namely to strengthen the Government’s presence among the people” to counter the communists’ stronghold, it seems that this association is some what a white elephant.

With the communist threat out, why do we need PA?

The PA- Party’s Association

Isn’t the PA supposedly a people’s association? Apparently, all of their board of members are PAP politicians led by the chairman, PM Lee Hsien Loong.

Mind you if the PA is indeed for the people, I think it would have been appropriate for representatives from the opposition parties of Potong Pasir and Hougang to be part of the board in contributing to our community.

Well, it looks quite clear that the PA is just another one of the PAP’s lap dogs to propagate its party’s agenda (please note party, not nation). Another top-down approach.

More down-up approach

Even the NTUC, a union set up for workers is no longer for workers. This is apparent when we see that the core leadership is headed by PAP ministers.

Presently, Mr Lim Swee Say who holds a ministerial portfolio in the Prime Minister’s Office is the union’s Secretary-General.

Such institutions such as the PA and NTUC should be voicing the opinions of the people. But these days, the reverse of the government talking down to the people is more obvious. When this overly happens, we need to be wary as the people like you and I will be least heard more and more over time.

Here is an excerpt from a letter in ST Forum that best describes the unhealthy socio-political state we are in:

“Instead of CASE taking up the cause on behalf of investors, it is former Income chief executive officer, Mr Tan Kin Lian.”

Mr Chua Sheng Yang

I really wonder how CASE being affliated and part of the NTUC family forgot to protect our consumers’ interest? Maybe if you know the answer, please share it with me.

Enough PAP-ganda

When I wake up, I am in my HDB flat. I make sure I switch of my SP Power-ed lights before I leave my home to take either the SMRT or SBS Transit transport to work. If I am late, I would  call for a Comfort Delgro cab on my SINGTEL mobile. My route to work will pass by POSB, SP, ITE, NUS, NUH, ST Kinetics, JTC, AH and A*Star. And work gives me money to contribute to CPF and GST,  and also to relax and watch MEDIACORP tv and read SPH papers.

Every where we turn, we see them. I believe fellow Singaporeans are getting sick and tired with each passing day by being “talked down” in what we need to do and what not to do.

“Marry early”

“Make more babies”

“Put money in CPF and can take abit out when 55”

“Put off retirement and work till 65”

“Pursue education”

Every where we turn, we hear the same party’s voice.

If it is not enough that we have to leave full decisions of our nation into the hands of the ruling party, it is equally disturbing that when we choose to speak up and voice our opinions we stand a high chance in getting slap with defamation like Dr Chee Soon Juan or the late JBJ.

So the question begs to be answered: Is what we’re claiming to be building for our nation or for a party? I leave that answer for you to decide.

Blogger’s Note: This entry was also published on The Online Citizen (TOC) on 28 October 2008

Nation-building the Pro-Singapore Way

Last Saturday I “incidentally” turned up for a private event organised by Ms Chee Siok Chin of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) at the Excelsior Hotel.

One Nation Under Lee

Read the event coverage here>>>

The good side of the screening

The movie was a political documentary by Honest Productions titled One Nation Under Lee and it presented the unscrupulous ways Mr Lee Kuan Yew wielded his power since entering into the political scene.

It is very informative and factual with news reports and interviews of individuals that were victims of Mr Lee’s political regime and ambitions. Much of what was presented is unknown to Singaporeans, especially the 2nd and 3rd generation of Singaporeans like myself.

This is a must-see, though it is certain never to be approved or released by the authorities.

The ugly side of the screening

Though I applaud some of the individuals’ courageous and sacrificial stance in championing the cause for a democratic political system, I do not agree with their course of actions undertaken during the event.

For instance, the emcee boldly crushed a letter from MICA which warned them of the consequences and legal implications of screening the movie, and threw it on the floor with defiance in front of the audience.

When MICA officials arrived, shouting could be heard from inside the room. Though I wasn’t at that scene to witness who were the ones shouting, but sometimes I think we forget that whether we are government officials or politicians, we are still fellow Singaporeans.

Moreover we are all in the same plight, and perhaps even sharing the same common goal. But just on opposite sides.

Building our ideal future

Personally, I do empathise with the frustrations of the opposition wards in not been given a fair playing ground to pit against the ruling party. As it remains a fact that it is almost impossible to be a voice or have a say in our country.

Dr Chee in a protest in 2006However, I am not a supporter of outright rebellion and civil or uncivil disobedience against our government or towards any particular politician. Even how unfair the playing field might be, a basic respect still needs to be rendered to our authorities when we engage with them without being mired by personal grievances.

When we render respect, we can safely expect respect to be reciprocated. And that is how I believe we can earn the right and credibility to speak and to be heard.

Being pro-Singapore first

Without a doubt I am certain we do not want the younger generation to learn from us in becoming a disrespectful or unruly bunch in the course of exercising their freedom of speech or rights, for it is said that true freedom is being able to do the right thing at the right time.

In the course of achieving our democratic goals, I think it is far more important to impart the right values and virtues such as love and respect to our people especially the younger generation. This would surely build a more gracious, cohesive and inclusive society that we all hope for.

Because in the final analysis, it is not the political system that needs the reforming, but the people in the system that needs the reforming.

Therefore, if we truly want to convey the right message, I believe the reforming begins with each one of us first before we attempt to change or overthrow others.

Or else, how different are we from those we attempt to change?