I've just handed the $30,000 to the Official Assignee to clear my bankruptcy. It's been six years since I've been made a bankrupt during which I was barred from standing for two general elections. I've also been banned from traveling overseas during this time. Now that I am free again, I can focus on leading the Singapore Democratic Party to success in the elections in 2016.
Even just a few weeks ago, I'm sure many of you would not have thought that it was possible for me to get out of my bankruptcy. And yet, today that huge boulder has been moved. What seemed impossible is now reality. I cannot overstate this point because it is significant, it is historic. Imagine that, we raised $30,000 in just 10 days and it was all because of you and your determination to help me clear my bankruptcy.
But it was more than just raising the money, it was a demonstration that when we act together there is much that we can overcome. You wanted it, you wanted democracy and you showed that you were willing to work for it. You showed that the people are not powerless and, more importantly, that you will use this power to bring about the freedom that has been taken from us.
This is the clearest sign yet that the tide is turning. It is a sign to those who are watching and, believe me, they are watching and they have gotten your message.
I want to thank each and every one of you for your contributions. many of you gave donations – some big, others smaller, but all of you gave with your heart and for that I am grateful. But there is one contribution which I have found to be especially precious. It was given to me by an elderly woman when I was selling my books at Raffles Place. She came up to me and gave me $5. I could tell that she was a cleaning lady because of the outfit that she was wearing.
She told me that she couldn't afford the book but just wanted to help me discharge my bankruptcy. I told her that I couldn't accept her gift as it was a lot of money for her. It was probably her three meals for the day. She turned to me and told me in Hokkien:
I have a share in our country, you cannot deprive me of my share. I want to see you succeed, I want to see democracy in our country.
It is for people like her that gives meaning to all that I do. I have dedicated half of my life to seeking democracy for Singapore and, for this elderly lady, I will dedicate the rest of it so that people like her – the ones without wealth, without voice, without rest – will be empowered.
The $5 that she gave is worth infinitely more than the 30,000 that I have given to Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong.
She has taught me a profound lesson that I will carry for the rest of my life which is that it is not how much money we accumulate in life but how much we give of ourselves to our fellow human beings that make us better people.
For those of you who have bought a copy of Democratically Speaking, I hope that you will read and truly understand what I am trying to say and do. The book isn't about me but everything about us as a people, as a community.
It is about the struggle to make ours a caring society, the endeavour to remake our economy to one that is egalitarian, and the fight to empower the people.
These goals make us who we are as the SDP. They are what defines and distinguishes us as a party. These values anchor our members to the truth and they are what will continue to attract right-minded, competent and dedicated people into our family. It is what will make the SDP an alternative ruling party, one that will provide Singaporeans a real choice at the next elections.
We believe that politics isn't just about accruing power, the SDP is not just a convenient vehicle for those who just want to get into Parliament and earn a name for him or herself. It is about winning the trust of the people through dedication and sheer hard work. Most importantly, it is about commitment to a set of principles.
In the past, many of you didn't understand what we were doing but now, more and more are beginning to see our principled approach and, as a result, are coming around to supporting us.
It has taken a long time but as long as it has taken, I have never stopped believing in you, the people – even in my darkest moments when I was jailed, bankrupted, ridiculed and treated like an outcast – I've never stopped believing in you. I always had faith that one day, Singaporeans will understand what I am saying.
Some of you say that I have learned my lesson and that I have changed. No, I have not changed. What has changed is your perception of me. All these years you didn't know the truth because the mass media was not telling you the truth. This is beginning to change with the Internet.
I believe in the same belief and I continue to work towards the same goal that I did when I started out in politics which is to claim for ourselves the freedom so that all of us can care for society, for our nation. That was my goal and my dream 20 years ago, it remains my goal and my dream today.
But that dream is not mine alone. It is shared by all of us who believe in justice and equality and a better future for all Singaporeans. I cannot do it alone. None of us in the SDP can. Without you, the party does not exist. With you, there is nothing we cannot achieve.
The raising of the $30,000 is not the end of the matter, it is just the beginning – the beginning of a deep and abiding relationship between you and the SDP, a relationship like the one we have with that elderly lady at Raffles Place.
And so with hope and determination, I say, onward, my friends, onward to a brighter and better Singapore. I'll see you again.