Your ability to misinform your readers never fails to amaze. Ms Chua Lee Hoong wrote that I had "vanished into the obscurity of the international lecture circuit." (ST, 18 March). This completely ignores the fact that my colleagues and I have been actively continuing our work for democracy in this country. It is your newspaper that has tried to create this impression of me being absent from the local political scenario by refusing to publish the SDP's press statements, announcements and replies.
Upon my return from Australia at the end of 1998 after the publication of my book To Be Free, I have been out in the streets in Singapore (save for the few weeks that I have been overseas to speak at various conferences and the time when I was imprisoned for exercising my right to free speech) on a daily basis selling the abovementioned book and our party newspaper, The New Democrat.
Hundreds of thousands of Singaporeans can attest to this as they have seen me at various places disseminating alternative news and talking about the need for democratic change for our nation. And yet, your newspaper doesn't acknowledge this.
It is this denial of a free-flow of information by a government-controlled media in Singapore that makes it all the more urgent for us to push for freedom of speech (which includes the freedom of the press). Issues such as the witholding of our CPF money through the hopelessly disguised Minimum Sum Scheme, the non-accountable non-transparent nature of the PAP Government especially in recent transactions and decisions, the advent of the ill-conceived foreign talent policy and how it threatens to undermine the interests of Singaporeans, the milking of the citizens' savings through exhorbitantly priced HDB flats, and numerous others, have been highlighted in The New Democrat.
Singaporeans, and foreigners, must be careful not to be taken in by all the PAP talk of opening up society. Whilst on the one hand the Government whispers sweet nothings about starting up a speakers' cornerwhich, the way that it has been proposed, makes a mockery out of free speech, it continues to deprive the people of their fundamental rights, that is, their right to an independent mass media, and to freely and fairly vote for the party of their choice. In fact, recent warnings to the foreign media to play the game according to the rules laid down for the local media, is yet another sign that the PAP is making Singapore more repressive than it is opening it up. This cannot be good for the country.
Until then, the SDP will continue to engage the people of Singapore in the streets of Singapore. Obviously, however, the Government-controlled media of Singapore will continue to keep everyone in the dark about this.
Chee Soon Juan
Singapore Democratic Party
(25 Mar 2000)