The enactment of the Public Order Act signals the Government's desperation to ensure that that any popular dissension to its rule is snuffed out. As the economy bites in and the PAP finds itself barren of solutions for the future, it is acutely aware that the people's disenchantment with its rule is on the rise.
Things will not be the same from here on out -- and the Government knows it. Even if the US economy recovers (on which our economy is highly dependent), we are not going to be able to sell to America like we have been all these decades.
Singapore's economy is undergoing a fundamental shift and things will be much tougher from here on out. Singaporeans are increasingly questioning the one-party state and will want more freedom and democracy for the country.
Knowing that it will have difficulty in distracting the people by continuing to promise them yet more materialistic gains, the Government is turning to outright suppression.
The Public Order Act is a naked attempt to completely remove the people's right to peaceful assembly -- yes, even if it's an assembly of one person. One would be hard-pressed to name a country that does not even allow one person to show his dissent in public. Have we sunk into the league of the North Koreas and Burmas?
The level of fear demonstrated by this Government would be amusing if the matter was not so serious. With this Act the PAP has completely stripped off its mask of democracy and exposed, beneath it, the hideous face of dictatorship.
To plug the last loophole, the regime is now moving to change the voting process by using computers to record and count votes. Such a move severely, if not fatally, compromises the integrity and security of the electoral system. It opens the doors to election fraud.
This two-pronged gambit of introducing the Public Order Act and electronic voting will kill off politics and political competition in Singapore.
It is also a signal that the Government is ill-at-ease with itself and with the people it rules. It is a nervous beast, and nervous beasts lash out at anything it perceives as a threat. Confident rulers seek the mandate of the people, nervous ones crush them.
A new darkness has descended upon Singapore. But if the PAP rejoices in this, it will be too soon. For Mahatma Gandhi once warned: "There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible but in the end, they always fall. Think of it -- always."
Chee Soon Juan
Singapore Democratic Party
(14 Apr 2009)