The latest statement by the Minister for Home Affairs, Mr Wong Kan Seng, is both shocking and puerile. His remarks that Singaporeans who are critical of the PAP system and its policies are anti-Singapore demonstrate the political immaturity of the Government as well as the lack of commitment to bringing democracy to this country.
Criticisms of Singapore, however strong, are not always against the interests of our nation. It is a sign of dissatisfaction with PAP policies. To equate such critics with anti-nationalists is to make PAP and the Republic of Singapore one and the same. This is political blasphemy. Singaporeans must be warned, again, that this line of PAP rhetoric must itself be rebutted and exposed at every opportunity.
The SDP is not surprised, however, at such revelations despite all the PAP drivel to usher in more openness and to not strangulate the development of civil society as it has done in the past. Why can't the PAP debate its critics and prove them wrong with reasoned argument rather than to intimidate citizens by threatening to have them "exposed." This is a clear indication that the party is unrepentant of its authoritarian ways, which cannot bode well for this country in a globalised world.
The SDP believes that with the advent of the Internet groups, whether based in Singapore or otherwise, should be allowed to function as providers of alternative information - information heavily censored by the state-controlled media. The SDP calls on Singaporeans to stand up for their rights and demand the PAP to desist its harassment of such groups and websites wherever they may be.
On the one hand, the Government laments about Singaporeans migrating to other countries. On the other, it makes such foolish comments about its critics. With this kind of autocratic attitude, there is little doubt that talented Singaporeans will continue to leave the country to the detriment of the nation's well-being.
Chee Soon Juan
Singapore Democratic Party
(28 June 2000)