What if PR criticised, instead of praised, Singapore?

Posted: May 3, 2009 in Uncategorized

Written by: Singa Crew
*First published by http://www.yoursdp.org on the 2nd of May, 2009.

I remember an editor with the Straits Times once complained that reading some internet postings made her blood boil. Good. So she will understand how I felt when I read a New Paper article written by Ms Elysa Chen and published on 28 Apr 09 (below).

Ms Chen’s article is the second write-up on the Facebook group “Singapore Sucks”. As a member of the group and occasional contributor, I feel compelled to refute the usual mudslinging against those who refuse to succumb to PAP propaganda.

Leading this latest skirmish against free speech in Singapore is Mr Anthony Fulwood, a 30-year-old teacher from the UK who has lived here for 5 years.

Mr Fulwood, who likened online commentaries on the lack of freedom in Singapore to attacks on his home, felt the need to “stand up and defend” his home and the PAP regime.

Citing the people’s right to choose in elections and our Speakers’ Corner, Mr Fulwood felt that there was enough political freedom in Singapore.

I hate to contradict Mr Fulwood, with all of his 5-year experience here in Singapore. However, I would like to respectfully point out to Mr Fulwood that as a citizen who has lived here for several decades, I never had the chance to vote in any of the General Elections. Mr Fulwood is an Englishman, so perhaps he has heard of the term ‘gerrymandering’?

Mr Fulwood went on to criticise those Singaporeans who do not want to go to the park (Speakers’ Corner), but instead complain in pubs and Facebook groups.

May I remind Mr Fulwood that the right to free speech is an inalienable right; one that should not be restricted within a mere patch of greenery? How dare he, someone who has only lived here for 5 years, think he has the right to tell us citizens of Singapore where we can or cannot exercise our right to free speech! Besides, what with the PAP’s long-standing tradition of using financially runious defamation lawsuits against their critics, is it any wonder that many Singaporeans choose the safety of anonymity?

When he referred to “complainers” as “teenagers” and “immature”, Mr Fulwood betrayed his ignorance of the local socio-political scene. Some of the loudest “complainers” against the PAP regime are Dr Chee Soon Juan and the late J B Jeyaretnam. Would Mr Fulwood call them “immature teenagers”?

Go to your MP instead of complaining

As for Mr Fulwood’s advice to resolve issues through the MPs (most of them are from the PAP), I can only balk in disbelief.

Ms Jaslyn Go, a local activist and mother of two, points out to Mr Fulwood that like him, she used to naively think issues may be resolved via MPs. She changed her mind after eight emails to her MP and two to her Tanjong Pagar GRC which includes MM Lee Kuan Yew. No one replied to her emails or was willing to address her concerns.

Of course, Jaslyn only has her 36 years of experience as a Singaporean to speak from unlike Mr Fulwood’s five years as a PR.

Mr Seelan Palay, a local artist and activist, does not think PAP MPs are connected to the people according to his blog entry: PAP MP in ivory tower, can’t see the ground. Despite staying only two blocks away from the office of a Residents’ Committee for seven years, he only saw his MP for the first time when she came around to hand out promotional items of caps and t-shirts.

Seelan lambasted the gifts as useless and thoughtless in this time of severe recession. And I agree with him that such gifts do nothing to help households who cannot even get three square meals a day.

As a supporter of free speech, I defend Mr Fulwood’s right to say what he wants, but I hope next time he will think twice before he passes judgment on us “lesser mortals”, in the words of PAP MP Mr Charles Chong, who have been living here all our lives.

It is instructive that Ms Elysa Chen would highlight the praises of foreigners while condemning the criticisms of Singaporeans over our own country especially when it is to support the autocratic system here. It is a sad sign of political immaturity.

Mr Fulwood might be interested to know that if his letter were critical of the PAP system, he would not be around in this country for long. How’s that for political freedom, Mr Fulwood?

After inserting glowing praises from two other expatriates working here, Elysa concluded her article with a question about the reasons behind the creation of “Singapore Sucks”.

She obviously missed the disclaimer displayed prominently on the front page of our group: “This group exists to critique the policies of Singapore’s government, especially the PAP, and to spread awareness of the plight of Singaporeans. It does not intend to attack the citizens of Singapore, and any aspects of the group that could be construed as threatening, such as the group picture, are strictly tongue-in-cheek.”

Link to original article (which includes hyperlinks and original New Paper article): http://www.yoursdp.org/index.php/component/content/article/2319-what-if-pr-criticised-instead-of-praised-singapore

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