Sunday, September 17, 2006

Opposition at it again

Chee Soon Juan has done it again. Terming himself a 'martyr', he has decided to sacrifice himself for the democratic process of Singapore. This time around, he and his bunch of political bandits decided to stage a protest march from the speakers' corner to show the world that Singapore is indeed an oppressed place where democratic freedoms are rarely recognized. Naturally, his stage protest drew a barrage of media attention. Pictures of him and his sister being held back by the police and journalist clicking away on their cameras has about accomplished his main motive behind his protest.

What Chee has done is a classic piece of 'political opportunism'. He took advantage of the fact that Singapore is currently holding the IMF/World Bank meeting at Suntec and knowing that the world will descent onto Singapore, he decided that this was the right time to expose the oppressive and rigid PAP government. The PAP is in a no-win situation. With the world's media attention centred on Singapore, they cannot afford to unleash their high-handed tactics in dealing with 'rogue' opposition like Chee.

During the elections, the PAP can tell the world media to stay away from their local politics because after all, local elections are strictly Singapore's business. However, this time around, Singapore has already created a brouhaha by turning away activist and protestors intended to stage a demostration in Singapore during the IMF/World Bank meeting. Already, World Bank President, Paul Wolfowitz has criticized Singapore for their inflexibility. The protestors did not intend to create unrest but Singapore's squeaky clean image is at risk and if the PAP were to allow them in, it would mean that Singapore's tolerence for no-nonsense has moved down by a notch.

Hence, this process can never be tolerated. The Singapore government intends to be in control and dissent can only be expressed through proper channels. In a way, this regulation allows the population to think before they act instead of shooting their mouth off with false allegations. And the same applies for the media as well. Moreover, this system works and the PAP has shown that with dissent under control, they have managed to shape the tiny city-state into a First World Nation.

What Chee wants is political freedom, democracy, free speech, free press and a right to assemble freely. This is not wrong. In fact these rights are clearly printed on the First Amendment. However, Chee is behaving like a raging bull that has just seen a red cloth. He has not justified his cause and beliefs. In a nation that is doing much better than their neighbours, material wealth is indeed precedent over frivolous claims for human rights. As long as the government has achieved this criteria, it is hard for any opposition leader to demand for a political reform.

Besides, does Chee know what he is trying to get Singapore into? Not only does the government have to deal with domestic economic growth, relations with the predominantly muslim populated countries are of a paramount importance too. Can a multi-party Singapore parliament come to a consensus on foreign relations? Do we want to take a risk? A fatal move will extinguish Singapore's survival as a small city-state.

The Singapore government is not daft. They have done tremendously well in turning Singapore from a kampung to a First World nation. If the opposition has a better idea on how to manage Singapore, the electorade will know. Unfortunately, most of their ideals are weak. For Chee, his blind search for democracy has lead to extremism and unnecessary unrest. Unless he can come up with a better approach, opposition parties in Singapore will forever be marginalized.

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