Why I joined the Opposition

It has been just over a year since I joined the Workers’ Party as an ordinary member. Although I declared months ago in the “About Me” section of my blog that I am a WP member, this will mark my first full blog post about my involvement with the opposition.

It has been just over a year since I joined the Workers’ Party (WP) as an ordinary member. I must say that the past year has probably been the most exciting and eventful year of my life, and there is every indication that the year ahead will top that. Although I declared months ago in the “About Me” section of my blog that I am a WP member, this will mark my first full blog post about my involvement with the opposition.

I wasn’t always an opposition supporter. I have no history of oppositionists in my family and most of my friends and teachers from school days knew me as someone who always followed the rules and did not question authority. Many, therefore, have expressed surprise that I have taken the plunge into opposition politics.

I first got interested in current affairs during my undergraduate days at the University of Southern California in the United States in the late nineties, where I majoring in electrical engineering. Although the level of political apathy on campus was still high compared to that of previous generations of students, it was enough to help me to see that what happened in the political realm had a huge impact on everyone’s life, including my own.

I brought my interest in politics back to Singapore when I returned in 1999 to serve my National Service. Back then, I used to think that being part of the PAP government machinery was the only way to effect positive change in Singapore. This was a reason why I made a drastic career switch from my first job as an IT consultant to work in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) in 2005. It was also why I had volunteered for more than seven years as a youth leader in South West Community Development Council, which I have since resigned from.

Ironically, it was during my time in the civil service that my eyes were opened to the reality that Singapore needs a stronger opposition in order to ensure better governance for our future generations.

The civil service is generally a very well-run organisation, with many intelligent, competent and committed officers at all levels of the hierarchy. As a political desk officer in MFA, I had the privilege of interacting with a diverse array of officials—fellow policy officers, protocol officers, management support officers, permanent secretaries, ambassadors, ministers, and officers from other ministries like the Ministry of Trade and Industry and IE Singapore.

I made a number foreign visits during my stint in MFA, usually staffing ambassadors and ministers in small delegations. This gave me an opportunity to have lots of personal interaction with them and get a sense of how they thought about issues away from the glare of the media. I remember occasionally even getting into debates with them, sometimes over the PAP’s lack of commitment to democratic principles and fair play. During one such debate, over drinks on evening in a foreign capital, I recall the wife of the ambassador turning to my director and telling him, half in jest: “Don’t suppress that idealistic spark in him!”

Fortunately my director didn’t suppress my idealism, not that I displayed much of it after that—it is generally not career enhancing to have a reputation for being too idealistic in the Singapore civil service, where hard-nosed pragmatism is a prized asset. But I realised that despite its efficiency and professionalism, the civil service can only help fulfil the political objectives of the party in power. It cannot change those objectives, because it has neither the power nor the mandate to do so. Policy directions are set by politicians in the ruling party. (By policy directions, I’m referring to issues like whether or not Singapore should provide a universal social safety net for needy Singaporeans, not whether the Public Assistance grant should be $360 or $400.)

My friends in the PAP tell me that it is more effective to change Singapore from within the PAP than from outside. I believe that changes to the finer details of policies are possible from within, but fundamental changes to the way the country is governed can only come if the top echelon of leaders in the party either radically change their mind, or are replaced. Neither is about to happen anytime soon.

The pace of change from within will be too slow to meet the challenges of this fast moving world. Our country cannot afford to allow our competitors to pass us by or for our income divide to reach dangerous levels, while we wait for some senior gentlemen at the top to pass from the scene.

The need for an effective opposition

The PAP has conditioned Singaporeans to see the political opposition as a destructive force in society. They routinely accuse the opposition of “playing politics”, engaging in “unconstructive criticism” and “opposing for the sake of it”. These are very untrue and damaging characterisations.

In the United Kingdom, where we inherited the Westminster Parliamentary system from, the official title of the largest alternative party is “Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition”. This implies that the opposition opposes the government—“Her Majesty’s Government”—and its policies, but not the state, as represented by the monarch.

Even while the PAP remains in power, there is a useful role for the opposition to play. The opposition can use its platform in Parliament to apply pressure on the government to change policies which are not serving Singaporeans well. As much as the PAP wants to portray itself as impervious to public pressure, the reality is that when they know that there is a real threat to their support at the next elections, they will have to bow to public pressure built up by the opposition.

This is the beauty of genuine political competition. Just like how commercial competition forces businesses to work harder, become more efficient and provide better services to woo their customers, political competition will force the ruling party to focus more on bettering the lives of all Singaporeans in order to earn their votes.

I joined the WP because I believe Singapore needs an alternative leadership that is capable of taking over the reins and steering our country to its next level of development, should the PAP stumble. This will ensure that Singapore will continue to prosper and thrive even without the PAP in power. I believe the WP has the potential to be that alternative government in the future, and I want to play my part to contribute to its growth and development. I hope to be able to help my party sharpen its policy proposals and broaden its outreach to Singaporeans who are not usually interested in politics.

I am under no illusions that the road ahead as an opposition activist will be long and fraught with obstacles, not to mention minefields. Many who have gone before me have paid a heavy price for their ideals. Some have lost everything they had, except their dignity. All Singaporeans are heavily indebted to these heroes, whether or not they realise it.

I hope I will not have to suffer political persecution like these heroes did, but I know many things are beyond my control. I therefore ask my friends and readers for their prayers and support, as I take my first of many steps in this long march towards building a better Singapore for all Singaporeans.

————–

Dear readers, thank you for all your kind comments and words of support. My team and I cannot fight this fight alone. We need YOU! Please click here to find out how you can join me in this cause.

114 thoughts on “Why I joined the Opposition”

  1. Please allow me to write some thoughts about the view suggested by Thinktok. Also, I would like declare that this has nothing to do with any person in particular. It is a general comment.

    Point 1: Perspective of work done and result achieved.
    What we have today is NOT the result of yesterday’s work. It is the result of 10, 20 or 30 years ago (in general). Thus it should be acknowledge that this is the result of HARD WORK FROM PREVIOUS GENERATION (who are more or less senior citizen now).

    With regards to this view, the question is: “What are we doing today? Is this something that can make our next generation proud? Is this something that will enable our next generation to stand on a higher point as compared to others in this region?” I am not in position to discuss this now. I believe given the extensive traveling of Thinktok, he/she should be more clear about this than me.

    Point 2: Perspective of collective hard work.
    Please remember that there are many people who have done great things for Singapore. Some received acknowledgment, most did not. This good result that we have today is BASED ON COLLECTIVE HARD WORK. It is not based on one person ideas, or one person hard work only. Nor it is based on one party ideas, or one party hard work only. A fair perspective must be established. Proper acknowledgment must be given.

    With regards to this view, there is a question: “What have been done to those who have contributed their life, soul, and hard work to achieve this result? Is this fair that someone, or some entity than use this result as a bargaining tool for self-interest? Is it true that all this result solely based on one man, or one party hard work?”

    Point 3: Comparison to others in this region
    Given extensive traveling and reading, one should be fair to acknowledge that others in this region is still behind us.

    However, one should also acknowledge that there are significant changes happening there. Some of this significant changes are structurally important, as they are preparing their system to propel much faster at a later date.

    There are many points and many question with regards to this view. I would like highlight just one that comes to my mind recently:

    Both in our neighbours, the economy sector is more or less decoupled from politics sector. This is clearly proven and shown in the last 3 to 5 years. This decoupling is good from the perspective of a proper and ideal system.

    And what about us? Is the public statement that establish a very close link of HDB value to politic is true?

    I am not expert, so I do not know their answer.

  2. Dear GG,
    I’ve read many political blogs,YOUR’s the BEST!You’ll have many supporters.
    In the 60’s, I saw Man in white with the lightning logo, winning people’s heart & vote.Today! they’re harvestings from this island as I’d pasted many 10 cents stamp on my POSB saving card.
    Bumiputra(son of this earth) like me are paying thru our nose for the all the high costs of living invented by our commercialized elite ministers!(No more for a belly of FIRE to serve the citizen)PAP mean Party & the People, so our 3 rm HDB flat cost $7K in our own land of the 60’s, and it’s hundred of thousands for now! Why? We have Billions in reserves but been losted by the elites??? They are bashing the citizen that had voted for them to pay for their errors!Today, the elites are inviting FT to stay & they must vote for them if they become citizen.How SAD!!!
    So GG, stand up and do somethings, be a an altenative, to shut their claims that no other opposition is better than them, for i’m old and have seen how our elite, doing us in as they’d forgotten those old folks that are not able to catch up with their high salarys thus pushing our cost of livnghood!
    I’ll support and wish all the best to you & our future leaders!

  3. GeekyPrince – I’m very glad your interest in politics has been sparked. Politics affects our lives much more than most of us are aware of. The more you pay attention to it, the more it will come alive and be of interest. Yes I will focus on fighting for the wellbeing of Singaporeans, whether I’m a blogger or a politician in future.

    Thinktok – I’ve been to places as varied as Denmark, Japan and the US, as well as Nigeria, Bangladesh and Egypt. I am well aware of how Singapore fares vis-a-vis all these countries. I know running a country well is not easy. Personally I have no intention of dismantling anything in Singapore that works. But what doesn’t work we must fight to remove. That’s what any responsible and rational opposition should do.

    I take issue with your assertion that “after the country is develope everyone is coming out wanting to serve Singapore.”

    I wasn’t born yet when Singapore was undeveloped. But now that I am living in Singapore in the year 2010, I want to do my part to make sure it continues on the path of progress.

    ObserverOne – I agree. I don’t know everything — I’m not even close. I would like to leverage on academics, thinkers and ordinary Singaporeans to come up with the best alternative policies. If you know anyone I should speak to, please do introduce us. And thanks for the links.

    Ah Piak – Thanks for your support. Do join me and ask your friends to join me too — we need to work together to bring about change in our beloved Singapore.

  4. Dear Mr G,

    One person whom I know who is a truly good person with good heart is F726247 S369. Try to contact him please.

  5. ObserverOne – what is F726247S369? A senior, now 82 and previously lived in Boston, Massachusetts? Pardon me for saying this but this sounds more like a scene from “A beautiful mind”.

    GG – Loving the stuff I’m reading. Love to see and hear more from you in the near future. All the best!

  6. I would certainly call Mr Chiam See Tong, Mr Low Thia Khiang and maybe JBJ as heroes who stands and fight for Singapore, but definitely not Chee Soon Juan. He is a joke, so please fight with dignity and righteousness and not follow into his footsteps.

    All the best and do articulate more of your views and solutions on current policies. We will be keen to know how you will contribute and make a difference! :)

  7. Pardon me, there is a reason why I wrote this way.

    Mr G, you are G37253 G426.
    Sydney, you are S9363974337.

    Please acknowledge who I am.

  8. Mr G,

    I have confidence in you and your team. What your senior has achieved in the past, you and your team should be able to surpass it. He should be more than helpful to share experience and give his opinion.

    By the way, I personally think that the latest public comment that closely link HDB to one person performance is very disturbing. This is because most of us have one thing in common, that is our biggest asset is the the roof over our head. And this is paid throughout our life, not to mention the price + interest. And now, its value is so conveniently linked to one man performance? Oh dear. I do not know how and why this happen.

  9. GG I quote you:
    ‘I wasn’t born yet when Singapore was undeveloped. But now that I am living in Singapore in the year 2010, I want to do my part to make sure it continues on the path of progress.’

    It is a bit presumptious to think that you can do a part to make sure… Politics is a long and arduous task. Maybe it is the big salary? Maybe it is a genuine commitment. What make you so sure you are the right man with the right aptitude and solution?

    We are very vary of people who can talk and talk too much. Like Obama he promised change. What kind of change do you have in mind.

    I asked you to travel our region because Singapore started slightly behind. This Government had done well and of course there is a lot of room for improvement like untested ministers, high salaries, overstaffing at the top etc

    That YOU can do better makes me very excited!

  10. A friend referred your blogsite to me – I am glad.
    Somehow, I feel rejuvenated again – reading your statement has made me proud to be a Singaporean still cherishing the Singapore Ideal.It wells within me my own days of trying to live the Singapore Dream…
    From nearly 40 years ago, my “quarrel” has been with our possibilities of being great – not just good.And, the long-term path would be to open up discourse on all fronts.
    Our size, our level of literacy, if not education, must – in my mind drive us to the “Athenian city state model,so to speak, where we can debate as ONE – “Ruling’ /”Opposition’ parties,whatever.. beceuse we are ALL Singaporeans with one common goal.
    I am filled with joy for your ideals, and can only offer my encouragement and prayers – esp when trials come your way.

    Take care and God Bless

  11. Mr G,

    One possible suggestion that I have for you:

    Quickly get some crash course on economics. This is very fundamental. Having been an entrepreneur, you can surely feel some basic touch and feel of economics in real-life sense. But that is NOT enough, you need to read more than just numbers. Yo need to understand each and every concept very clearly, because you HAVE TO be able to see further than those statistics. Also, make sure you can spot CREATIVE STATISTICS (i.e. a very harmful but commonly used tool).

    Also, knowing the basic is NOT enough. You need an expert to stand beside you, always. He/she is able to read your mind vice versa very clearly. So it is important to be honest to each other. Once you gain trust of each other, treasure them. Of course after knowing he/she is a solid person. (This relationship is just like a relationship between a man and his arm).

    I will sign off for a while. No further comment from me until it is needed. Please take care.

    (Note: just write on your blog if you need me to respond).

  12. Sydneysider – Thanks for reading!

    sandy – I promise I will focus more on coming up with better solutions.

    Thinktok – I don’t think it’s presumptious of me to say I will “do my part”. I’ve already said that I am ready for the long march. I’m only 32 and am in no hurry at all.

    Wah Yong – I’m thrilled to hear your feel rejuvenated. I hope you can not only pray for me, but join me as well.

    ObserverOne – Yes I am working on increasing my economics knowledge.

  13. There is a friend from a neighboring house. He came by invitation and later on, asked to leave by order. A good mixed of an economist, a businessman and an administrator. Having been freshman, he studied and analyzed clearly current economic situation, WITHOUT BIAS.

    Also, he had developed a reasonable good blue print for what and when to do list because he was asked to head a heavy institution. But things turned out different then. He had to go. His blue print, well, was adopted without permission.

    IF you are able, please contact him. Listen, filter and learn. Thanks.

  14. GG is someone who the Opposition parties need and it is a blessing WP has you. Frankly, I’m getting sick and tired of past elections of Opposition parties spending most of their election time bad-mouthing PAP. They were never going to connect with the people this way. Talk about current and domestic issues affecting Singaporeans and most importantly, get the youth involved in Singapore politics. Get them to question things and think critically.

  15. My advice to u is not forget the Malays. Have more Malay friends. Learn Malay with a heart to understand them. If u mixed wif ur Chinese friends always, u will hv a parochial view if u become a leader one day. The Malays supported LKY b4 after that we are forgotten and some become beach people. If u need to study Malay contact me. One more thing to ensure that you build a credible team, for every 1 chinese worker u work with, have 2 Malay workers there too, to neutralise Chineseness. I fear coz of ur ACS background, Foreign Service and Uni of Calif background, u hv scant exposure to Malay people an important potential segment of ur supporters.

  16. Hi Gerald, just heard of this website today through a friend while talking about general issues.

    I respect your conviction and courage. As someone wrote, I do sincerely hope to see you in parliament one day.

    Thank you for doing this.

  17. Lawrence of Arabia – Thanks for the important advice. I emailed you soon after you left your comment, but haven’t heard back from you. Please do contact me by emailing me at gerald.giam {at] gmail.com. I’m very keen to get your help.

    jung wuog – Thanks for the note of support. If you’d like to help me, whether in the open or anonymously, please contact me.

  18. Thinktok – I’ve been to places as varied as Denmark, Japan and the US, as well as Nigeria, Bangladesh and Egypt. I am well aware of how Singapore fares vis-a-vis all these countries. I know running a country well is not easy. Personally I have no intention of dismantling anything in Singapore that works. But what doesn’t work we must fight to remove. That’s what any responsible and rational opposition should do.

    GG – You should travel also countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, China, India, and maybe Israel etc. They are priority for people who want to rule Singapore.

    I hope when you are in Govt and when Mahthir is gone, you can restart the supply of sand and water to Singapore.

    Eygpt depends on tourism too much. Denmark is a welfare state with very serious erosion of the Danish culture. Japan is in debt, but I do admire their social organisation, discipline, hardwork and creativity. The US is so big I do not where to start, but they have 14 trillion in debt. Bangla Desh, why bother to visit the country, just go down to Mustapha and they will tell you.

    Better learn Singapore’s model. We feel safer.

  19. We need more passionate young people like you. I am guaranteeing the opposition my vote, if I have the chance to go to the polls.

  20. As an opposition party,can you try and explain in simple terms why USA, Japan, and EU countries are having high national debts and how Singapore can avoid them under your leadership.

  21. What the opposition needs to show is a realistic long term plan for Singapore, which is still clearly missing. Even as we speak now, PAP has revealed its vision for the next 50 years. Whether it will be materialised or not, is of secondary importance now.

    For a start, Singaporeans are still at sea when it comes to determining what exactly the opposition is intending to give Singapore other than ‘change’. The opposition should bear in mind the battle is not just about defeating political opponents but defeating long enough to see real tangible benefits for Singaporeans. If that does not happen, then it’s just winning for the sake of winning.

    Although in the last election I had actually casted a vote for the opposition (and I am not afraid of being open with my vote), deep down I am also aware there’s still a big gap between PAP and the opposition.

    How is the opposition going to account for the past 20 years? You can’t exactly take over and say, let’s end the chapter and start from scratch again. How and where is the opposition going to chalk up funds for Singapore’s future development? PAP had made it clear the funds accumulated by them will be ‘locked up’.

    Will the opposition lead the new Government to conduct investigations into past transgressions – suspected or factual otherwise? Many top officials in military and law enforcement are still aligned to the PAP. What kind of power will the opposition possess to prosecute anyone if investigations revealed dirty stuffs from within? PAP had been relatively open that it is not ‘that easy’ to change the legislatives because they have set many layers of barriers. What safeguards have opposition planned to prevent individuals from leaving Singapore in exile? I believe Thailand’s Thaksin serves as a warning bell which is little mentioned in Singapore, regardless of PAP or opposition. Consider Singapore’s relationship with Myanmar and countries as such. How is the opposition going to prevent accountability from being limited to civil servants as scapegoats? Chairmans, CEOs are equally held accountable for the business profit and loss, not just the Directors or Managers.

    There are hundreds of questions popping up in my head, which ultimately boils down to one thing. What’s the opposition long term plan? There are too many unanswered questions which in part, I understand certain informations are not made available to opposition so you can’t actually plan for it. But for much other segments, I am surprised it is still unclear now.

    The opposition needs to be daring. Not daring in attacking PAP but rather, be daring to plan long term. It’s Singapore’s future we’re talking about here. Otherwise, a defeat for PAP now will still be in vain. Good luck!

  22. A senior citizen – Thanks for your support!

    thinktok – I don’t think WP has any intention of squandering Singapore’s hard-earned wealth. In fact, it was the PAP that first dipped into the kitty to pay for their subsidies to companies (aka Jobs Credit), esp GLCs and MNCs, during the last recession.

    Ed – Thanks for your very wise comments. I agree that we need to articulate our vision better.

  23. Mr Giam,
    We are not talking about squandering of hard earned wealth here. Your statement is too simplistic and naive. The PAP under LKY, GKS etc had built up the reserves and all you can do on behalf of the WP is tell us that WP and you have no intention to squander the wealth. You should honestly think whether you can double it. That is what we citizens are interested.

    The Govt dipping into the kitty is the right thing to do. What is the use of having a reserve and the Govt is unable to use some of it for the benefit of the country and people?

    Do you understand the Sub-prime crisis?

    I think the best favour you can do for us is joining the WP.

  24. Great job! I found your page from a FB link that my friend put up. I think when you peruse your cause with passion even if it is the road less traveled, it is admirable! I am just a poor fisherman and the only thing that I can give you is my moral support to continue perusing your belief and a prayer that you can be like David, slaying Goliath through faith!

    Government is set up for people and not just by people. Pointing fingers and finding faults are not really benefiting to the people. The hidden truth and ugly facts brings joy to some but I believe that is not the best cure for the nation as a whole. You mentioned you are idealistic and your life changed when you really walked the grounds, seeing reality. I would really love to see you publish another book with the content on your ideals and the real ground situation. Those are your greatest passion, those might just be your greatest strength!

    Good luck my friend!

  25. I salute your intellect and courage. Just would like to share with all something I read.

    =======================================================
    COURAGEOUS FAITH

    Among those calling themselves “believers” or “religious

    people” or, in our case, Buddhists, there are still too few

    who have that kind of genuine faith in the actual power of the

    Good

    to transform and elevate the life of the individual and of

    society, to secure them against the resistance of the evil in

    themselves and in the world outside. Too few dare to entrust

    themselves to the powerful current of the Good, too many

    secretly believe, in spite of a vague sort of “faith”, that

    the power of the evil in themselves and the world is stronger –

    – too strong to be contended with. MANY POLITICIANS EVERYWHERE

    IN THE WORLD SEEM TO BELIEVE THE SAME, PARTICULARLY THOSE WHO

    CALL THEMSELVES “REALISTS”, OBVIOUSLY IMPLYING THAT ONLY THE

    EVIL IS “REAL”. They think of necessity they have to submit to

    its greater power. If they are not willing to put it to a

    test, it is no wonder they cannot achieve much good.

    To be sure, in the great forces of evil and stupidity,

    this kind of genuine faith in the Good requires a certain

    amount of courage. But no progress of any kind is possible

    without courage. Progress means to overcome the natural

    inertia of present unsatisfactory conditions in the individual

    and in society. It certainly requires courage to take the

    first step in breaking through that resistance of the natural

    inertia and the self-preserving tendency of things and minds.

    But just that courage is the preliminary condition of success.

    ======================================================

    I wish you all the best!

  26. Sorry guys, there is a typo in my post 5 min earlier.

    9 lines above the bottom of the quoted passage should read:

    “To be sure, in face of the great forces of evil and

    stupidity, this kind of genuine faith in the Good….”

    (I left out “face of”)

    ;-)

  27. Gerald,
    Can you please post your full profile (preferably a full resume)?
    While most Singaporeans would be glad of your stepping forward, I think we deserve to know fully how qualified you are as a credible opposition.

    -Josh

  28. Hi Gerald, I admire your courage and preserverance. I was wondering how singaporeans may step forward to help building the future of this country.

    You’re doing the right thing that many people are afraid to stand against.

    May God be with you!

  29. Thank you Jeff. It is my sincere hope that more Singaporeans will step forward to be part of the political process. Do contact me if you’re interested to find out more.

  30. Hi Gerald, my fellow Trojan. Hope to see and hear more of you in the coming GE. I believe there are many Trojans and friends who will support you in building a better Singapore.

  31. Mr Giam, I admire your tenacity not to succumb to the very attractive perks and it’s sycopancy, I fully respect your independence not to be servile n be unafraid to speak your mind for the well-being of our island nation!With the stirrings of democracy in us all, I hope and pray to Almighty GOD, The Creator of the Heavens n the earth, that more young,intelligent, brave souls will come forward to provide for an alternative voice in the affairs of our beloved little nation! I will surely vote for you or for any rational candidate who loves our nation, if I am given the chance!

  32. mr giam,
    as a senior citizen of this country( i am 48 years old now),i am glad that some young people are stepping forward.do not be sway and disheartened by negative view and keep up the good spirit.

  33. Gerald,
    I saw you speaking on the television forum and I was greatly impressed. Keep up the great work!

  34. Hi Gerald,

    Great job done on the forum. However, I was really disappointed how no opposition camps mentioned anything about our media situation in Singapore where SPH is simply a megaphone for the ruling party.

    In a democracy, there are ‘Four Estates’ which you mentioned that we inherited from the British’s Westminister Parliamentary. They consist of the government, opposition, jurisdiction and the media which they almost have a unison of a same voice.

    The media is fundamental in serving as a public watchdog to hold power into account and to make the invisible visible for the general public.

    Heavy censorship in the media is placed by the government, such as regulation by the Media Development of Authority which is a statutory board of the government under the Ministry of Information, Communication and the Arts (MICA).

    I am saddened to see investigative journalism to be a concept under siege.

    When SPH subscribes to the Newspaper and Printing Presses Act, it also means the regulation of foreign publications.

    Strict defamation and libel charges by the judicial system: Singapore Broadcasting Act, Penal Code and Sedition Act also makes it very difficult for investigative journalism. Singapore Broadcasting Act enables it to prosecute any foreign broadcasters, as it does with international press, for ‘engaging in the domestic politics of Singapore’. Foreign correspondents as such are particularly sensitive and careful about their reporting on Singapore’s public affairs.

    These actions made by the government has resulted in criticisms from international media watch groups, such as Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders.

    The Penal Code and Sedition Act in Singapore’s laws may not be as useful today was it was forty-five years ago. There is a pressing need to revise such laws and policies in opening up public discussions and discourses.

    A balance between free expression and preservation of racial and religious harmony can be achieved as it has been achieved in other more diverse communities in the world with more press freedom.

    A recent Democracy index compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) shows that Singapore scores 2.78 out of 10 in the category of ‘political participation’ and under a hybrid regime instead of a full democracy. Even if we take journalism out of the Asian context calling for a heighten sensitivity as liberal democracy is incompatible with ‘Asian values’, South Korea and Japan both ranked much higher than Singapore, at 20th and 22nd respectively.

    What is democracy without free speech? Power is knowledge and it is media responsibility to deliver accurate information to the public, empowering them to make informed choices. This is why we have the journalist codes of ethics.

    The media landscape in Singapore should loosen its regulations and allow independent quality journalism to foster along with the maturing of an open society.

    Therefore, an editorially independent media, (a public service broadcaster such as the BBC in the UK and the ABC in Australia) could serve the public interest better. For example, although ABC is funded and owned by the government, it remains editorially independent under the ABC Act of 1983.

    I would really like to see our next Democracy index compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) to definitely be better than the current 2.78 out of 10 in the category of ‘political participation’.

    Thank you.

  35. hi gerald,
    would just like to applaud u for what i thought was a great debate on the political forum that mediacorp organised :)
    I’ve been rather politically apathetic and have just been interested in the political happenings in Singapore. To be honest, I’ve been rather supportive of PAP but u and Dr Vincent from the SDP have certainly offered me alternative viewpoints from what i always read in the media.. i admire ur courage to stand forth and fight for what u believe in. keep fighting and all the best!

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