Mr Chan Chun Sing is certainly an accomplished man in Singapore. He has risen quickly through the ranks of the army and appointed a minister. I commend him on his remarkable achievement, there is much to be admired.
I have, unfortunately or otherwise, chosen a different path. It is, admittedly, not a conventional path and, certainly, not one that leads to power, privilege and a high salary. In this respect Mr Chan is right, I have not succeeded.
I have instead undertaken to speak up for the people of Singapore in what was, to put it mildly, a very difficult political terrain.
Nevertheless, I am proud of my achievements, as I am sure Mr Chan is of his. But I do want to sound him a note of caution: When we attain our goals in life, we should not look down and criticise others who have yet to achieve theirs.
Even if I have failed in Mr Chan's eyes, he must resist the urge to denigrate. Wasn't it Albert Einstein who once said: “You never fail until you stop trying”? I have not stopped trying and I don't think I will.
I do, however, find Mr Chan's comments troubling on two fronts:
The first is the PAP's out-dated practice of stigmatising failure. This is unfortunate. I want to tell my fellow Singaporeans, especially students, that we must not be afraid to fail. It is from our failures that we learn and become better persons and go on to achieve great things.
The second has to do with PAP's habit of engaging in the politics of name-calling and personal destruction. It is disappointing that the younger generation of ministers like Mr Chan has not set a new direction for the conduct of politics in Singapore instead on relying on that of a bygone era.
How does calling me a failure help to solve the problems that Singaporeans face? The more the PAP engages in mud-slinging and ignore the grave problems that confront our nation, the more dire will be the lot of our people.
For the sake of Singaporeans, let us go beyond such an un-constructive form of politics which Singaporeans detest and graduate to a more mature level of contestation of ideas which the people deserve.
To this end, I repeat my invitation to Mr Chan and his PAP colleagues to debate me and my SDP colleagues on issues such as CPF, healthcare, housing population, education, etc that Singaporeans care about.
Chee Soon Juan
(16 Jan 2015)