Saturday, May 13, 2006

Dr Chee Soon Juan Speaks at the Forum

Dr Chee being his usual democratic self decided to promote his ideals through the local and extremely popular forums. A forum that yours truly is a member of. I posted a question, or rather an essay to the man himself, a person who has being misunderstood by many and supported by a few. So I just publish it all on my blog, my question, a reply from a fellow forummer and the reply from Dr Chee Soon Juan himself. Although he didn't agree with me, I am honoured with the reply.
Satire is me, Wah piangz is another forummer and Dr Chee signs off his reply.

From: SaTire 12-May 11:24
To: SGDemocrats 172 of 230
104700.172 in reply to 104700.1

Dear Dr Chee,

I have admired you and your sister's courage in standing up for democracy in the face of PAP tyranny. I always felt that for a nation to progress, democracy is essential. If not, the USA would not be wasting billions of their budget to overhual the political systems of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Yet, I beg the SDP to look at the current situation that Singapore is in. Singapore has progressed as a nation, economically, from the Third World to the First. Since it's independence, Singaporeans has been fed the diet of the need for good jobs, a roof over the head and food on the table. And the PAP has satisfied the Singaporeans in these aspects.

Of course as the country matures, the need for more political awareness becomes essential. We need to understand how Singapore has came about, what policies has made us what we are and how future policies would shape the political future of our nation.

Dr Chee, I would like to ask you something. Do you really believe that democracy for our tiny nation is more important than the satisfaction of basic necessities like food, shelter and work? In fact I would like to find out if our tiny nation is truly ready to handle full fledged democracy? What if this system of a full fledged democracy fail? Can we revert a system that we have fought so hard for back into the original system of limited democracy? (The PAP model now).

Much as I dislike the high handedness of the PAP, I have to agree with some of their principles. Singapore is a small and unique country. With no hinterland to fall back on, a failed political system will only lead us to nothing but disaster. We do not need to look further than the Phillipines to see how true democracy has brought corruption, poverty and unemployment to them. The fillipinos have land to fall back on, they can take the hardship of working abroad as domestic workers and be away from their love ones and they can accept the fact that their next meals will come from the rubbish bin a few kilometres away. Can the Singaporeans accept this after years of affluence and stability?

It is not that democracy is bad. I have mentioned how much the USA supports this but it is the question of stability. After years of 'learned helplessness', Singaporeans are too reliant on a stable and able government to deal with all their problems. If true democracy was to be given one day to them suddenly, they would be too lost to comprehend the new freedom and would subsequently squander it. Dr Chee, you have pointed out matured democracies like India and the USA. People in India started embracing democracy when they were in their worse possible state. Singaporeans cannot understand the need for democracy because they have never been through such hardship and suffering, so much so that they need to revamp their current political situation. Dr Chee, it's not about the ideals but about the current mindset of Singaporeans. We have to face the fact that not all countries can run well with democracy.

Look at China. They are slowly becoming a world power even when they are still state-controlled. Look at Iraq and Afghanistan. Look at how their various religious cultures prevent them from achieving true democracy and see how the USA have failed thus far in shaping their political system after theirs. And then look at the Phillipines again, where democracy has turned a once promising economy to one that is now riddled with inflation and unemployment.

Singapore cannot afford to take such a drastic and possibly wrong step into the unknown. We have devised a system that has brought us peace, prosperity and racial harmony. Democracy could change this for the better or the worse. (hopefully the better) But if we end up with the worse, with insufficent maturity to deal with the concept of democracy then what will become of our tiny nation? What will happen to Singapore's affluence? Can be bare to see our tiny grouses of more political freedom satisfied but the major issue of jobs, shelter and food unresolved?

To conclude, I believe that most Singaporeans would love more political freedom. They want more opposition because they are very comfortable with the political situation now. Their stomachs are fed and they have work in the day. They want alternative views that will truly turn Singapore into a democratic nation. Yet, they only voted in two opposition members into the parliament.

It means that Singaporeans believe that this political freedom that we clamour for is still secondary to the need for stability and basic necessities. Pragmatism still plays an important part because we know that Singapore is small and we are reliant on stability to draw in investors and jobs. They will always be complains about the government and yes, even in complete democracies. But these are just odd gripes and possibly even excuses to one's own ineptness.

Singaporeans are not daft. We don't need an overhual of the political process in Singapore to know what is best for us. And the Hougang and Potong Pasir residents can vouch for that. We know a bad apple when we see one and the current political system may be unjust to a certain extent but still rather fair as compared to other countries.

Dr Chee I would like to end off by asking you another question. If Singaporeans one day elect you into parliament through this current system will you accept the post as a MP? By accusing the PAP of devising a political system that will ensure them to form the government every election, are you also not devising a system for yourself? A system which will get you elected since you can't win seats in the present one? I think it is only fair if you get elected through this current system and reject the seat for parliament, can you truly say that this system is flawed and it needs to be changed to a more democratic one.

Best wishes to you and your family.

From: Wah Piangz! (WahLew) 12-May 23:28
To: SaTire unread 197 of 230
104700.197 in reply to 104700.172

SaTire, this just my little opinion on why democracy is relevant to the big picture and the macro issue of economics and livelihood.

We are at a stage in human history what some call the knowledge economy. To face and take advantage of the new challenges we need people who can think out of the box, creative, and "unconventional". I believe for creativity and entrepreneurship to flourish, reforms to our current state of social constraints (particularly freedom of speech and expression) must be made. And freedom of speech and expression are just part of what democracy is about.

Under a system where freech speech and expression is actively curtailed, eventually free thinking would be hampered too. It leads to self-censorship in thinking, and this is the worst kind of growth inhibitor becoz it is exerted voluntarily from within instead of outside. A semi-braindead population that limits itself will ultimately do itself in. Then we would be less competitive than ever.

The west continues to to be the number one destinations in the world for those who seek freedom. No coincidence that they are consistently ahead this century in innovations and charting breakthroughs in human progress. Free societies naturally attract the free minds and talents of world (i'm not refering to economic refugees), and isn't this what SG is trying to attract? Yet we seems to be getting 2nd or 3rd grade talent that can't outperform our own ppl.

So some of these "lofty democratic ideals" like freedom of speech and expression etc do matter and they affect SG's economic future. Just take a look at our dismal homegrown media, creative and entertainment industry as compared to (non-islamic) countries around us and u can see how badly we are doing.

From: SGDemocrats 04:25
To: SaTire 213 of 230
104700.213 in reply to 104700.172

Dear SaTire,

I wish to reply to your post because it raises many salient questions that I have been repeatedly asked.

However, I note that Wah Piangz has done a commendable job in relating why politics (democracy and freedom speech) is important and how it impacts on the economy in this country.

Trying to bifurcate the two, as the PAP is doing, is dangerous and will, in time to come, make us uncompetitive internationally. We are heading in the wrong direction.

The world has changed in the way we conduct trade and commerce. But a country cannot just be a knowledge-base economy but a knowledge-based society.

I have written on this topic in my first book Dare To Change and elaborated on it substantially in Your Future, My Faith, Our Freedom. If you haven't read it yet, I urge you to do so.

You can also read an abridged version of this subject on our website under the section 'What We Stand For.'

Thank you.

Chee Soon Juan
Singapore Democrats

From: SGDemocrats 04:29
To: Wah Piangz! (WahLew) unread 214 of 230
104700.214 in reply to 104700.197

Dear Wah Piangz,

Just a note to let you know that your reply to SaTire is very cogently expressed (please see the above post). Thank you.

Chee Soon Juan
Singapore Democrats

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