The Online Citizen

The third Chee Soon Juan

February 09
12:18 2011

by Joshua Chiang

There are two Chee Soon Juans.

The first is the law-breaking, minister-heckling, hunger-striking attention seeker who is more interested in promoting a ‘Western’ form of democracy ill-suited to our Asian society than in bread and butter issues. He is one of the two ‘duds’ the Minister Mentor mentioned as the sort of people he had prevented from entering parliament. (The other being J.B. Jeyaretnam.)  This is the version which, if you believe Dr Chee, is the one that the mainstream media often portrays, and which the public buys.

“As a Singaporean, it is shameful of Dr Chee to actively call on other countries to interfere in Singapore’s judicial process. This is another clear example of how low he will stoop to undermine Singapore,” a Straits Times reader was quoted as saying in 2005. She was referring to his call for the international community to put pressure on the government to change some of its ‘unjust laws’.

The second Chee Soon Juan is the steadfast champion of human rights, the bold visionary, misunderstood by the majority, but commanding unswerving loyalty and admiration from his party members.

“Democracy and human dignity are part of his DNA,” said Singapore Democractic Party (SDP)  member Vincent Wijeysingha, who had known Dr Chee since 1991. “His commitment to these values is unwavering even in the way he conducts himself personally.”

For me, neither perception offer a satisfactory glimpse of who Chee Soon Juan is. In part due to the SDP’s extensive use of the internet as a communication tool, a growing number of people have direct access to Dr Chee’s views and writings, but many among them still find Dr Chee a hard pill to swallow.

“I have the utmost respect for him and his commitment but I don’t necessary agree with his methods,” said ‘Jimmy’, an avid reader of socio-political blogs. “He comes across as too abrasive and confrontational.”

Why then did Dr Chee choose a method of engaging politics than is often seen as unnecessary provocative? Might a more ‘moderate’ tone have worked better to get his message across? The label of ‘psychopath’ had been thrown at him before, but could there be a method to his ‘madness’?

An ice-cream parlor isn’t exactly what one would consider the right setting to be interviewing a politician, but this was exactly where I found myself on a rainy Thursday afternoon. Then again the casual atmosphere, and the fact that this is where Dr Chee Soon Juan often brings his children to (a photograph of Dr Chee and his family taken at the parlor is on one of the walls) might just help me better understand the person behind the persona.

And the ice-cream didn’t taste too bad either.


Recently you were sentenced to $20,000 fine or 20-weeks imprisonment in default for speaking in public without a permit.  How’re you planning to go ahead?

Well, the timing is a little unfortunate in the sense that the matter is happening right before the elections. And the funny thing is all these took place at the end of 2005, early 2006. This whole thing just dragged on for five years since. It’s not like a complicated murder case. So I’m just a little put off. There’s a lot of election preparations going on, and now’s not exactly the time to be off duty.

Were you mentally prepared that this might happen?

You know the thing is I’ve been for years already asking them to consolidate all the cases, have a trial at one go so that I don’t have to keep… one after another make application after application for the judge to say, “Look, I’ll hear all together.” And then they didn’t want to, so they heard one case after another. And then when the appeal came and they lumped it all together, I said, “Why didn’t you do this three to four years ago?” So that’s’ one thing that I find very upsetting in that sense. So now that it’s coming, it’s something that I’ve anticipated.

But you’ve gone ahead with a campaign to raise money to pay the fines.

As I said, that’s the difficulty. The party knows that it’s going to be difficult for me to be away – I’ve to be around. But then on my side, I feel this because whatever you raise right now we want to use it for the elections as well instead of for this situation. But in any case, we will do what we can and the rest of it, we’ll see what comes of this.

Because of your bankruptcy, you’re not allowed to stand for elections right?

No, no. I’m not allowed.

But nonetheless if you can’t pay the fine and had to go to jail as a result, it would nonetheless affect the elections campaign.

A lot of preparational work could be affected by it. I’m concerned that the elections will be in March or it may be held probably anytime around these five months. It’s going to be very problematic.

So is this like the run up- the last legal hurdle you have to cross?

The fight is ongoing. I’ve always made it clear that change is not going to come -  democratic change is not going to come just from taking part in elections. If you think that’s going to happen, you’re living a dream.

If you read history – political history – all transitions from an autocratic state to democratic ones did not take place through elections; elections had to come as a result of change, it’s not a means of change.

And so, looking at this situation, yes as we gear up for elections, we sharpen ourselves to make sure we get our messages across during our campaign machinery – everything is there. But always with the knowledge that at any time, any time the PAP wants to change the rules, you’re really at their mercy. And as I said before, let’s say even if we win a GRC and they change the rules of the game, next elections, they win back the GRC and then we’re back to square one. What is more fundamental is to make sure that civil society and anything that’s a critical mass continue to make sure that this freedom of assembly and speech which create that kind of mass whereby we’re able to pressurize the ruling party to play by the rules.

It’s been five years since the last general elections. Are there any improvements in the area of civil participation and political awareness that you see?

For one thing very clearly, you look at right now in terms of the number of people that have awakened and you know right now you may have a whole group, but before it starts with a group, it always starts with a few.  And the few actually started getting involved because they saw what we were doing on the side at that time and they came aboard. And when they come abroad, other people to see what they’re doing and come aboard at the same time. Then you have as a result the relaxation of those rules at Speakers’ Corner– now that may not necessarily effect or make that crucial change. Don’t forget things like that, it takes time. You know it’s the cumulative steps that you build to. So you know Rome is not built in day. So let’s continue to strategize and see. Every time you make progress, consolidate the progress. Build on it. Work on your next step and continue on until we achieve our goals.

Did you think that the public image towards the SDP has changed in the past few years?

If you talk about online, maybe. But in general society, it’s still a long way to go. You know, given the fact that your traditional media is still very much in the hands of the PAP. And a lot of people are still afraid to come on the SDP website. I heard it many times when I go on house to house and they tell us. I don’t know why, or whether it is really true – that they can trace your IP address or whatever. But the fact is that they’re still very afraid. It will take time for us to get them to get on the website and overcome that fear. The elections would be a good platform where you may not be able to offset change on the political scenario, but the elections itself is a very good avenue also to educate the people as well.

You’re no stranger to the fact that people are criticizing you or SDP very harshly online. But when you go for your walkabouts, do you actually have this kind of reaction?

No. You know, people seem very cordial and I’m thinking, “Why is that?” No, a lot of times I think Singaporeans tend to – if it’s anonymous- they are just a little bit more chatty, more forthcoming with their views. They may whisper behind your back but they- I’ve never had anybody being openly hostile.

Well maybe not openly, but in private discussions with friends – at least those who do not follow local politics as closely -  few have good things to say about you.

You live in a very enclosed society. By closed, I mean there is no- in particular the media – it’s very much in control. If you don’t read history, you’ll get very, very disappointed. As I said if we look through the years, there’re cases of people becoming stronger. You always have to start off people not knowing what you do. And people who advocate change are the ones who always get the ire of those who are afraid to change things – even if they see change is necessary, they will resist it until the very last moment. And they’ll always target people who advocate change.

So in that sense, I’m not surprised. All you just need to continue to do is to continue to explain to them. Be patient; just continue to explain to them. And I’m very confident. I’m very confident one day they will come to see what I’m trying to do and up until this point, I can tell you, they really don’t know what is it that we’re trying to do on the side. But that is not something that is something immutable. Sooner or later it’ll change.

Well okay, then there’s this segment of people who will agree in principle what the SDP stands for, but they will still not want the SDP to be in government.  They believe that your proposed policies will lead us to disaster.

But then, why did they agree?

I think they agree that we need to have an open platform, the need to respect human rights and so on so forth, but at the same time it seems that SDP as the government is not something to look forward to.

That is also to be expected. Look, that’s not only the SDP. Anywhere when you go, last time when they- the DPP in Taiwan, they were fighting for the power; Kim Dae Jong (President of South Korea from 1998 to 2003) – the same accusations were hurled or libeled at them and they said, “Look there’s no way.” And it’s natural. What experience have you got? You know what I mean, to be in the government. You look at whoever is in the Kuomintang, you know these they have experience to run. You know it’s natural, it’s a natural phenomenon. In fact that was the same type of accusation that was hurled at Obama: He’s too inexperienced. Remember the whole ad about 3 a.m. call. Hillary Clinton was  the experienced one. What about Obama? He’s this guy who has never held office- so you always have that kind of argument.

Well, moving on. In recent years, you have been seen to tone down on the civil disobedience aspect – is that deliberate or is that a natural progression?

No, I had that discussion, I can’t remember, last time with Martyn-

(Filmmaker and activist) Martyn See?

Martyn See. I think (the discussion took place) just after the last elections. I’m saying: “Look, there’s a time and place for everything.” Civil disobedience is not about- in fact I prefer to use the term ‘non-violent actions’ – it’s not just about going out and breaking the law.  The whole strategy is to make sure you never lose control of your agenda; when you want to do what, you’ve got to be in control. There’s a place that you need to make sure you always- you don’t try to do this before and when the elections are coming.

But then right after an election (2006), what’re you going to do? Talk about the elections? You just had one right? So what are you going to do in between? You see, this is where because we are not in a democratic state right? You have to work towards a democratic state and all these incidents come to play of which non-violent action is a part. And if you have that, you make sure you strategize it. You know, get the activists up. Get them to understand the importance of human rights work. Right?

So you make sure at that time you train activists you know, do capacity building and everything that is needed. And then slowly when the elections come up, start making sure that you can get to position yourself whereby you can effect- make yourself effective for elections time. So it really is a very fluent situation right now whereby you’re always positioning yourself depending on the situation. But the end point of getting the goal is always there. It’s almost like a roller coaster you know. You want to get from here to there but it’s never one straight line; you go up and down, do a loop and that kind of thing. Whatever it takes to make sure that you’re always positioned yourself to capitalize on the situation.

Okay, I’m going to throw you a curve ball. Assuming that the Singapore Democratic Party becomes the government one day. Will you become our next Minister Mentor?

Yeah, that one is really a curve ball.

I think my first love is still in academia. I was trained in it. I enjoyed it, interacting with students, doing research and everything. And at some point, I’ll like to get back into academia again. And if at all possible if things will come to that stage where you know you won’t backslide already. I’ll like to get back.

Then what is the political end-goal? I mean would you even be interested in being a prime minister?

It’s very farfetched but at some point, you would like to be successful, succeed in what you’re doing. But that success can be measured or defined in many ways. One way of course is to get a political office. I cannot say that this is something I want to do. But it’s really a means to an end. By which time you can get in there to make sure that you then put in place checks to make sure that you never revert back to an autocratic state again, to make sure you know right now your electoral system, political, your freedoms and all, make sure that it’s written in the constitution; your judiciary – all these are firmly in place. That’s the end goal. If it takes for me to get into parliament so that we can achieve that goal, yes, then by all means.

In an interview with CNN Talk Asia host Lorainne Hahn in 2002, you said, “No matter how hard it gets, no matter how oppressive the government is, there is this spirituality about us that will not allow us to look the other way.” Now what exactly do you mean? I mean is there a spiritual root or foundation behind what you do?

Yes. It’s not something which I talk about a lot. I suppose the whole scene in which I view the work that we do stems a lot from my own Christian faith. And it’s the whole idea that I don’t think really it’s a case of the Left versus the Right. I think it’s more a matter of whenever you have a group of human beings, there will always be those who will seem to oppress the majority. And you look back from your ancient days, you always have people – the masses who are always disenfrachized.

And they always need a system whereby there can be at least semblance of equality. And you’re never going to achieve this perfect equilibrium, that’s the basic. But it leaves a system that allows us to approximate this equilibrium to build a democratic state. If you look at from the time we started until now, it occupies only a small portion of human civilization. So I think it’s something which continues to be an important battle to wage. And as I said, things will never be perfect but at least if all the settings of society are able to have that freedom to make sure they have a voice – mobility; social, political, economic mobility will always be there, and that will work to help us get closer to what we want, which I believe is what my Christian faith teaches us.

What you seem to being saying is that your work is neverending. And this is where I’m going to throw you another curve ball. The Minister Mentor once said that, “even if you are going to lower me into the grave and I feel something is going wrong (with Singapore), I will get up.”  This concern for Singapore, or an idea of what Singapore should be is what drives you both. Aren’t you both just different sides of the same coin?

Oh yeah, I see what you’re saying. No, I think for him at least, the way he’s portrayed himself to the public and what we the public can understand, is that he doesn’t seem to feel confident enough to say, “Look, I’ve put in place a system which can take care of itself; I can remove myself from that system and it will still go on.” He cannot do that. And look everybody – it’s not just me, I think people in the establishment as well – is saying that if LKY is not around, right, the things, the center cannot hold. And that’s the difference.

What we’re trying to achieve is that, you want to build up a system that will perpetuate itself because the institutions are in place, not individuals. Individuals will come and go but your institutions are in place already. This is what we’re talking about you know in democracy, whether is it the judiciary or whether is it the civil service or whether is it your government executives; civil society, that’s also an institution. The opposition, the political opposition, it’s also another institution. It’s all in place that you know, and then people can have a say in which direction that the country wants to proceed. But those institutions are in place that will protect that system.

Whereas if you look at what LKY is basically doing is he’s putting himself right smack in the middle of that wheel with all the spokes coming out. Correct? You remove that wheel, that spokes has nothing to anchor to you know. Everything starts coming apart, your wheel will go haywire. This is what I mean by when I say… you know you’re right in the sense that the price of democracy is perpetual vigilance. That vigilance is taken care of by an institution, not by individuals. Individuals are not going to last for long.

Okay, I’ve come across comments which say SDP Chee is a hindrance to the Singapore Democratic Party – what do you feel about something like that?

That’s an opinion that, that, that somebody has expressed. I suppose people always have their opinions you know, no one’s stopping them.

I think the context of the comments is in the light of the new people that the SDP has attracted. And they are contrasting the credibility of these new people with your track record as the confrontational maverick. And they are saying that so the image of SDP will be better if you weren’t in the picture.

Well I honestly feel that sometimes you talk to some of these people when they come on board of late and this is what I said during our rally, I said it wasn’t that they have been there for years already. They joined us in the last six months – at least a few of them, and some of them a little earlier too. If you ask them: What attracted them to SDP? We didn’t have anything to offer in terms of riches, we can’t even pay a salary. And we’ve got fines to pay. So the question is: Why did they come into SDP?

Those people who have come on board of late, they have been following; they get on the net, they read what we’re about, and based on that they want to be part of the party.

There’re these other comments as well: “We respect what Dr Chee does but he shouldn’t have badmouthed Singapore to the foreign press.”

Let’s be very clear about this – you’re never able going to effect any change if there was also not at the same time international pressure. Look at any country in recent history whether it’s Taiwan, whether it’s Korea, Indonesia, you look at Central Europe, before the party in South Africa, there was not only pressure from within, but also pressure from the international community. That is a given.

So when people ask you, “What do you want to do with Singapore?” and you tell them – I’m talking about let’s say for example the foreign press- are you going to lie and say everything is hunky-dory? Even Aung San Suu Kyi for example – we were there at the conference – she was telling us, “Use your liberty to help others.” Is Aung San Suu Kyi badmouthing her country to the others?

During Obama’s inauguration, you appealed to him on video to pay attention to the ‘human rights abuses of the Singapore Government”. That didn’t seem to go down well with some people.

You would expect them because at the same time you’ve also got to understand one thing – that you only come to that viewpoint if you equate the ruling party with the country, right? And if you do that, you’re never going to be able to say anything to others because if you criticize the ruling party, they want to equate themselves so that you’re actually criticizing the country. And that’s how autocrats always play the game.

Not all the remarks came from people who are  pro-ruling party, some of them in fact came from people who disagree with the ruling party.

You think without the backup of the British (during the 1960s), the Lee Kuan Yew faction of PAP would have survived? Lim Chin Siong (co-founder of the PAP), it’s not an opinion, this is research that’s come out from all the classified papers already. LKY was working at that time with the British and the Internal Security Council to make sure that he (Lim Chin Siong) wasn’t gaining ascendancy. All we need to do is to say look, let us fight our battles. And that they were obviously trying to turn it around and say, “Oh you’re trying to get this wrong.” People don’t know that the PAP is the poster boy of a lot of all these multinationals as well as the Defense Department of the United States.

Well then people would say, if the PAP doesn’t do that, all the MNCs will leave. What can we survive on? We’re a small country with little resources and hostile enemies.

I’ve made it very clear – You want to welcome (MNCs) to build the economy of this place, but even the PAP MPs are asking: Have we become over-reliant on MNCs? There’s a balance to be struck. Right now all that we’re doing  is our dependence on these multinationals to the point that we’ve crowded out our own entrepreneurial class. They’ve left the country and they find themselves nicely placed in other countries. And this is where I think a balance needs to be struck. You don’t want to shut out your economy and push them overseas but at the same time you want to make sure that the old Singaporeans are- are given this room to innovate, be able to compete and not just always to have to give way to voice of multinationals.

You mentioned that the traditional media had constructed a certain image of you to the general public. But can we say also that this image is also not wholly untrue? The words you used to describe the PAP is often quite harsh. Words like ‘autocratic’ and ‘dictatorial’ aren’t necessarily endearing terms.

I just don’t know how to go about saying things which are not. If it’s not, don’t say it. If it is, say it. Don’t shy away, don’t prettify it. And I keep telling people it really is not what the PAP does, it really is what it does to our minds.

We’ve been so handicapped as we don’t feel sometimes even seeing our ministers eye to eye and having a debate. You know, don’t be like that confrontational. You always got to see yourself as the lowest, know your position. This is what I’m saying: You’re already psychologically crippled in that sense. Then how do you ever stand up for your right? That’s not the same as saying you don’t respect them. You respect the office, yes. But these people, don’t forget they want to use to lord it over you. George Yeo said you know, you must know your position in society. That  “没大没小” (Chinese for lack of respect for one’s superiors) is what my parents taught me. You are not my parents. You are a servant elected as a custodian of the public power. The minute they assume a position whereby hierarchally they’re above you, they can do anything to mould society whereby they tell you: “Know your place, I am your lord. I can lord over you.” And this is where I think you start going down a certain slope.

We don’t want to be something that we’re not but at the same time you don’t want to let them get you into this position whereby you begin to think somehow you are subservient in your opinions.

In the recent Face to Face event that TOC organized, one of our photographers took a rather interesting shot of you exchanging words quite cordially with Mr Chiam See Tong.

Huh? Oh yeah.

I mean, has the relationship gotten better now or?

Well, again to me it’s never in anything but cordial for me on the side. Way back when we- I remember in 1996, even after… there were there was this rift, I still call them out. And at that time I remember we were organizing an official visit to Australia to meet the Australian parliament and so on, I called him up. I said, ‘Would you like to join us?” And he declined at that time.

Look my stand has been that if we are going to fight for democracy, it starts at home. We’ve got to practice it within the party. So I’ve never held it personally against Chiam. So in that sense I often tried to let it reflect my relationship with him so that even when we had get-togethers, I’ve always not had any personal old views. I’m not trying to make myself sound as though I’m a saint, no. But I- you know there is, I harbor no hard feelings. So that day (at the Face to Face forum) I was just finishing; I was walking past, he (Chiam) called me then you know I just sat down. Because he spoke softly, so I had to lean forward to hear and then when the moment I leaned forward you took a picture. And I cannot tell you guys what he told me.

Are Chee Soon Juan the writer and Chee Soon Juan the public figure two different persons?

Well a lot of times what I do in terms of my public activity is very much crafted and manipulated by the traditional press here. Broadcast as well. They would like to portray me in a certain manner. Not so favourably. And I you know when I actually try to read my books, my publications, you see there’s no difference because it’s not like I adopt different personas but it’s just that in terms of public portrayal, the media wants to portray me as what you’ve seen in the difference in the book. Frankly speaking, I don’t do anything that is inconsistent.

We’re going to talk about something more personal. Your children. Do they face problems with other classmates because of who their father is?

No. There’s one incident which I found very cute. One of their teacher said something, ‘Oh you know the opposition sometimes are trouble makers.’ And then he mentioned JB and I think the other person he mentioned was James Gomez, I don’t know why. My daughter came back and she told me about it. So things like this and yeah sometimes they get curious. When my eldest daughter was still quite young, when I first when to jail, she came up to me and she said, “Only bad people go to jail right?” And I was sitting there looking at her and you take time to explain to them because sometimes you got to go and break it up into simpler terms. And they did not understand it at that time yet but still as they grow up, they get into it, they do understand the concept of democracy, why is it important for us to fight for it.

One final question. Lee Kuan Yew once called you “a political juvenile and near-psychopath”, and shortly afterward, the Straits Times ran an article by Chua Lee Hoong which suggested that you are exhibiting anti-social personality disorder. Did that affect you in any way?

These are things that doesn’t faze me. You know, you can call me anything you want to call me. It’s not going to make a difference in how I’m going to proceed and you know achieve my goal. Let the people be the judge.

  • Him

    He comes across as very thoughtful and genuine in this interview. Definitely not the unstable psychopath that the mainstream media has made him out to be.

    I’ve always felt he was too rash and emotional when it comes to fighting the PAP. But in this interview he shows that he has a clear sense of purpose and a concrete plan on how to achieve it.

    My respect for this man has definitely gone up a few notches.

  • Wilson

    Salute! You are nowhere near the psychotic profile some old senile man profess to be. All the best to you, Dr. Chee

  • bad questions, good answers

    i found the interviewer were asking the same kind of immature and silly questions that ST will ask.

    for instance

    “During Obama’s inauguration, you appealed to him on video to pay attention to the ‘human rights abuses of the Singapore Government”. That didn’t seem to go down well with some people. Not all the remarks came from people who are pro-ruling party, some of them in fact came from people who disagree with the ruling party.”

    anything that any opposition politician does is going to irk some segment of singaporeans who disagree with ruling party. so what? thats just normal.

    in the whole set of questions, there is only 1 policy question. dahhh

  • theonlinecitizen

    @Bad questions,

    I beg to differ. Many of these questions were based on many people’s views on Dr Chee; they couldn’t understand his actions. Personally, I am more interested in knowing why people do what they do – whatever policies they have stem from this very core concepts. People don’t buy LKY’s books to learn about policies; they buy his books to know his worldwview, how he thinks.

    You can if you want to, find out more about SDP’s polices on their website.

    You can also find out more about what opposition party sec gens have to say about policies in these videos of the Face to Face forum


  • http://Website(optional) SupGusy

    I like how he answers the last question. I would rather read this article again and again than to read Lee Kuan Yew’s Hard Truths.

  • Straits dogs

    Fantastic interview. shows how trashy the ST is.

  • Bobby Tan

    If the PAP strongman can call JBJ a DUD…..who else will he not scandalise?

    I would not be surprised if He calls his Father a brutal man (which I think He did in one of his books).

    There you go this man supposedly a well rrespected elder politician.

  • empathy

    I’m not much into politics and don’t know much about what transpired that got him so many court hearings. Nor am I into supporting opposition against the ruling party.

    However, the devious way in which the government is dealing with him in order to unfairly affect the election outcome swings my sympathy towards the opposition regardless of which party/person is taking on the PAP.

    Whether in sports or any other realm ibn life, playing dirty isn’t going to get you the vote of approval. Or perhaps PAP has confident plans to sabotage any potential opposition so effectively it doesn’t care whether or not they get my vote.

    If that’s the case, it’s not PAP against the opposition. If they remove all opposition, It’s PAP against us ordinary citizens and against our political right to choose.

  • Chanel

    Sporrans have been brain washed by the PAP media on Dr Chee. Never under estimate the power of the meia

  • Fairplay no handicapping

    Why is the ruling party so afraid of Dr Chee?

    Why is the government stooping so low to postpone his case till now in order to disrupt his work in the coming election.

    By so doing, alot of sympathy votes will go to SDP and my prediction is SDP will win at least one GRC this time round.

    Good luck and God bless you and your party in the coming election.

  • cy

    Is Chee indispensable to SDP? if so, he is contradicting his ideals of democracy.

    If not, why is he asking for donation to get out of jail so that he can lead SDP in election? Does it mean that SDP can’t fight an election w/o him? indispensable?

  • bindi

    To CY,

    His party elected him leader. He didn’t buy or coerce their votes. Now due to the accumulated jail terms, he may be prevented from discharging his duty as the party’s leader in elections, even if he himself is ineligible to contest. How you can perceive that as undemocratic is mind boggling.

    To the members of SDP,

    I salute you all. There’s no personal gain from joining the SDP, only potential prosecutions, lawsuits and ill-informed criticisms and flak from the likes of CY and the ilk. You are perhaps the true patriots of Singapore.

  • Bernard CHAN

    Say what you like about Dr. Chee Soon Juan, he always remain as hero to me!

    Too bad he does not have a ex-Prime Minister as a father!

  • Robox

    It’s true, as expressed in the article, albeit only subtly, that there are many supporters of the other opposition parties who turn into pathological SDP bashers whenever the discussion turns to the SDP. The leading activists among them online can only engage in what I have termed “defamation activism” though they try and pass it off as “serious political commentary”.

    I wonder if they know how they sound when their comments are nothing but variants of the PAP’s diseased attacks on the SDP. If that means that they do in fact see eye to eye with the PAP in their infantile criticisms against the SDP, then I for one would remain wary about any solidarity with such individuals; they, more than the PAP per se, are a hindrance to any meaningful change in Singapore if by their unanalysed criticims they only reveal that they would fight tooth and nail to maintain the PAP’s political culture as the status quo, and most importantly, vote accordingly.

    Additionally, I would be wary of supporting any opposition party whose members act likewise. With such opposition parties in government, Singaporeans can definitely expect more PAP rule under a different guise; they are, after all informed by the pAP’s political culture, and hence their unwarranted attacks on the SDP.

  • Unbeliever

    I think what you sow is what you reap.

    I do not agree with CSJ sowing seeds of discord or rebellion amongst our populace. No matter how hard he tries to repaint himself or redefine himself, it will still be tough.

    There is a reason why the highly esteemed MP Mr Chiam was ousted from his party. For whatever reason claimed by CSJ, what you sow is what you reap.

    As much as i want to vote the opposition, if SDP contested my ward, i would be sad to say that i will still have to eventually vote for the PAP.

  • Knuts

    Respect, CSJ. After watching your videos, especially the ones of you being arrested etc. it was clear that you are a level headed/focused individual.

    It will be worth it in the end!

    Have a good New Year.

  • Bernard CHAN

    I finally have a chance to read through the whole interview. Together with the readings of his other books like “A Nation Cheated” and “Courage to Change”, now I fully understand why LKY needs to put him to jail during the erection period.

    If he is aroun, how can LKY espect his sissy Loong to be erected!

    Sissy Loong got to hide behind his lawyer when quesitoned by Dr.Chee and not continues to hide behind his old man as he did in his last 58 years of his life.

    Come on, sissy Loong come out to face Dr Chee Soon Juan like a man and not act like sissy.

    Try to be less offensive with your remarks

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  • Robox

    I don’t think that detractors of either Chee Soon Juan or the SDP have anything anymore to add to all that has already been said about the man or his party. Frankly, they can say nothing that we have not already heard. (it’s all in the article, anyway.)

    And it is getting SOOOOO boring.

    Simply because it’s just a rehash of the PAP’s political infatilism, anyway.

    They should try and come up with fresh perspectives of their own instead of relying as heavily as they do on the script that Lee Kuan Yew wrote on their blank-slates-for-minds. That would certainly help, if “help” was what they had in mind instead of helping the PAP with their agenda of outright harm.

    It would be good for their self-respect and self-esteem, incidentally.

  • Ben10

    JBJ was a hatchet man
    Devan Nair a drunkard
    Of course STimes know how to paint a person the way the gov wants it.

  • contrarian

    The people have already judged. There are none so blind as those who will not see.

  • cy

    to bindi,i don’t mean he being elected as sec-gen being undemocratic. what i mean is his ideals of democracy is that building a system is more important than depending on a leader.

    therefore, if SDP can’t perform in election due to his absence, does it means that he has failed in his democratic ideal of building a system which can endure his absence due to jailtime.

  • Denial Tan

    Chee definitely had made progress compared to his earlier days when he is embroiled in negative news.

    Maybe the bad showing of SDP in GE2006 had make him realized that his old ways did not go down well with most Singaporeans.

    Yes, I definitely do not want somebody who scream and shout in parliament. The Taiwanese parliament is the joke of the world. Their unruly almost gangsters like politicians can even engage fist fights in the parliament.

    Would be very interesting to see how he performs in the coming election. Is he still eligible to vote in the coming election?

  • bindi

    To cy,

    Yes, the system is more important than the person. But that does not mean the system does not need leaders!

    And that’s why in any democratic system, there needs to be Free and Fair Elections, something we do have in Singapore, where the media is lopsided, where people cast their votes in fear or favour, where there are simply not enough opposition candidates to contest all seats.

    It is my opinion that if Chee Soon Juan is given half an hour to address the people on national TV, opinions will quickly swing. Let the people decide in a free and fair manner.

  • bindi

    It should be “something we do not have.”

  • Non apathetic

    Even as a non-apathetic, I used to have misconceptions about Dr Chee. After the recent coverage in various blogs of his speeches, my impression of him changed.

    If even a non-apathetic had the wrong impression, then its logical to say that most apathetics if not all of them do not understand him.

    Solution : more coverage of Dr Chee. But time is running out. While he may not contest, his words can change minds.

  • iam4DRCHEEalltheway

    dr chee is indeed a nice and humble bloke..onced i spoke to him in person in aljunied.. he was kind enough to sit down and chat with me even though he was very very busy tryin to sell his media..
    whenever i see him sellin..i will give his party fund $2..(no idea how much he was sellin) till today he is still 1 BRAVED son for singapoor people..
    other IDIOTs tend to badmouth him many many times..butt NONE of them hav the guts to do what he does
    for the PEOPLE of singapoor…

  • domesticaffairs

    I would like to invite Dr Chee and his supporters/sympathisers to watch the following short video and respond as to whether Dr Chee is doing the right thing asking foreigners to interfere in our domestic affairs.

  • Bruce

    We must believe (Dr Chee Soon Juan’s address at SDP’s 30th Anniversary Dinner):

  • Bukit Merah Boy

    You’re barking up the wrong tree. This video is about how the US is propping up a dictator Mubarak.

    Truth is : The PAP govt has been sucking up to US for years. This is how our Changi naval base is a berth for their carriers. This is evident from how our diplomats freely leak information to the US embassy in the wikileaks cable. This is how US and other multi-nationals exploit our cheap labour here. MM Lee is also advisor to foreign MNCs such as Total and JP Morgan. No one panders to foreign interests more so than Lee Kuan Yew, first to the Japanese, then to the British, and now to China.

    What Chee Soon Juan is appealing to is this : Yes, you foreigners can do business with Singapore, but don’t help the authoritarian PAP to suppress the rights of my people. In Chee’s books, he frequently quotes Aung San Suu Kyi when she called on western govts to “use your liberty to help gain ours.”

    The idea that no one should interfere in the domestic politics of a country is a tired excuse used by dictatorships all over the world. In this age of globaiisation, this is passe.

  • Bukit Merah Boy

    My comments was directed at the video of the Egypt uprising posted by domesticaffairs, not at the one posted by Bruce.

  • allinav

    I haven’t really thought deeply about what SDP stands for (wrt economic policies), but I do think that Dr Chee comes across as far more calm, diplomatic and reasonable than He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.

    Also, I’m scratching my head and totally don’t understand how anyone could accuse Dr Chee of being a “near psychopath”. This is absurd. This person sounds like he has no clue what a psychopath is. Dr Chee should sue for defamation.

  • angry_one

    I have never believed that Dr Chee did anything wrong, even the confrontions and intentional law breaking. Stupid Sinkees don’t understand what he’s trying to do. He is trying to show that our laws are unfair by defying them and letting us see how he is being fixed. Now, what happens if this kind of law catches up with YOU?

  • sg_wikileaker

    To everyone and TOC,

    Years ago, Lee Kuan Yew issued a mandate to his cabinet : There are two opposition politicians who must be stopped at all costs. First is JB Jeyaretnam. Second is Chee Soon Juan.

    Prior to 2001 elections, PM Goh openly declared that he would tolerate all opposition candidates except CSJ. Then of course CSJ shot himself in the foot over the Jurong Market heckling incident, for which he was bankrupted and disqualified from future elections.

    But coming back to LKY’s mandate – there exist within the civil service and the PAP, particularly Home Affairs and ISD, personnel who has been tasked with the job of surveilling, and eventually thwarting, anything that JBJ and CSJ say or do.

    But now that JBJ is gone, all their resources are focused on CSJ. Their methods are varied, ranging from trolling online forums and youtube comments page to defame CSJ and SDP, or initiating police probes into people around him, such as Seelan Palay, Martyn See etc, just to intimidate others from coming forth.

    As such, as far as this interview on TOC goes, expect the anti-CSJ task force to up their rebuttals in this thread. Their goal is to deter other sites and platforms from doing the same interview. But so far, their efforts have been pathetic, to say the least.

    One more recent information : LKY has reportedly found a new target for his clandestine smear campaigners to work on – Dr James Gomez.

    I leave it to all of you to figure out why LKY is so afraid of JBJ, CSJ and now JG.

    And my final message to the smear campaigners : LKY will pass on, and there may be a leadership change. LKY’s legacy may not be all positive, and all of your names may be given to the new govt, where you may be called upon to testify on your current role. May God bless you.

  • Robox

    domesticaffairs, I will respond to you by starting with another question:

    Do Singaporeans have the capabilities to right those things that Dr Chee and countless others see as wrongs, so much so that we need foreigners to ‘interfere’ in our domestic affairs?

    If your answer is in the affirmative – which would then qualify it as fiction – then tell me which of the PAP’s wrongs have been completely eliminated as a result of make believe Singaporeans taking charge of their domestic affairs? Have you yourself personally taken charge of those domestic affairs resulting in fundamental changes?

    Well, save your breath: yours is just another rehash of the PAP’s opportunistic xenophobia. (See what I mean about the predicatbility of the pathological SDP bashers reading from Lee Kuan Yew’s script?) When it benefits the PAP, by all means get help from foreigners. But if it is to disadvantage yours and the PAP’s opponents, please, please, please, play your xenophobia card.

    If Singaporeans do not, or do not yet, have the capabilities to manage our own affairs effectively, by all means let foreigners show us how.

    I for one am not so arrogant that I will not learn from a foreigner who is better equipped than I am about a paricular subject.

    Or would you prefer that Singaporeans continue to wallow in our own mediocrity?

  • Jannsten

    Ineresting video about the government exploit the pragmaism to silence all sun and sundry

  • meek

    i think he is a psychopath. singaporean are just not worth fighthing for. let them stay as slave for pap.

  • Just-A-Democart

    He’s Not Mad. He’s Just a Democrat:

  • mikey2222
  • HaiGong

    I think the PAP is so fearful of JBJ and CSJ that they always try to put them down.

    There are non in the PAP has the same kind of fighting spirits as both of them.

  • David

    PAP is fearful to anyone (whether bloggers or individual) who are vocal. The reason is simple, all those PAP selects are puppet and speak in one voice. If you have an intelligent voice in between to disrupt the puppet without a mind of their own, the puppet will become haywire and collapse. Simple logic.

  • Ahtoro

    Perception has a reality of its own in politics.

    So it will take a very long time, if at all possible, for the majority of Singaporeans to perceive CSJ in a different light. That’s the bad news.

    The good news is that more and more people are impressed with the way the SDP has transformed itself in the last two years and has been able to grow a strong following.

    The SDP will do well in the next GE when it SPEAKS for the people instead of engaging in “law-breaking, minister-heckling” rhetorics.

    CSJ is a good man and deserves the support of all thinking Singaporeans.

  • VoteForChange

    In an autocratic environment whereby all major institutions are under the jurisdictions of the tyrant,people are being fed with adulterated news and propagandas for their self glamourisation so as to hookwink and keep people in the dark.When citizens are ignorant,policies could be easily introduce and amend without any due regards to the common folk.The people should think hard and try to look further into the future and unite for the common good and aspiration of all.Getting other govt in helping to regain our rights and democracy is one way in which to pursue our aim as with the manipulation and underhand tactics of the Papies,it would be hard to solely rely on our own effort!!!!

  • Sun Tsu

    CSJ is well educated and eloquent. But he is still an amateur in that he throws his punches wildly and some of the punches hurt himself more. If by now you do not know your enemy then you are a fool. LKY is super intelligent and a fighter. He is not going to let you have a chance to throw sand into his eyes. Remember that. So don’t pretend to roll on the ground it won’t make him lower his guard.
    CSJ’s problem is that Singapore is well managed and successful and a shiny example to the world. So we must be mad to kick out a good pilot in mid flight just because CSJ says he can fly better.
    Only when Singapore reaches Tunisia or Eygpt’s kind of economic failures that CSJ will have a chance to get the attention of the people. Harping on democracy, freedom to slander, and freedom to cause public nuisance won’t go down well with the people. Neither is exploiting religious and foreign workers issues going to help.

    We re upset with YOG cost overrun, crowded polyclinics, and ministers’ super high pay.

  • kaomangai

    I personally met Dr Chee in the memorial of JBJ. He was the most cordial guy I ever met although I was a complete stranger to him. His view of LKY rising from his grave to correct the system was spot on. Like all of us, LKY is mortal and Singapore must be bigger than him. All things pass away and the sooner LKY realizes this, the better Singapore will be prepared for the future. After all these years of “nation building”, I think we are no more nearer when we first started. It is just so sad!

  • LKY Dud

    I think we Singaporeans owe Dr. Chee some recognition that is long overdue.

    On the other hand we should realise that PAP is not only devious, it is both unscrupulous and vengeful at heart. Just one question and till this very day LKY still cannot provide us with a honest answer :-

    Why are people like Dr. Lim Hock Siew and others jailed for more than a decade without trial ?

  • http://EchoSunTsu Maozedong

    Dr Chee, pls consider Sun Tsu’s comment above seriously. Get on issues that the PAP over priced ministers had screwed up and strike the right chord with the people.
    Forget the head on fight with LKY/ PAP
    I suggest SDP to learn from HK corporate activist David Webb who has ‘successfully’ made himself a rather feared upon attendee at various corporate AGM but gain respect from other small shareholders. Reason: he points out the misdevour of the company and board.

  • http://-- sigmundringeck

    So sorry to say this, but if a fund is set up to keep him IN prison, it will probably meet its target very fast. After treating Chiam so badly and forcing Chiam to leave his own party, after being so generously invited into Chiam’s party, nobody in Singapore trusts or respects this so-called icon of democracy. More like an icon of betrayal, IMHO. With him im prison, the opposition actually has a better chance of getting increased votes–any area Chee contests will be the lowest vote-gainer for the opposition for sure.

  • rockabyebaby

    To domesticaffairs, 3 Feb 2011

    Was LKY himself right in bad mouthing Singaporeans to international National Geographic magazine? He is a “mentor” you know?

    Has he and his Ministers been right in comenting about PAP’s policies, our community and citizen issues while on official or non-offical trips in any foreign land they are in?

    To Sun Tsu, 5 feb 2011,

    You said LKY is “super intelligent”.

    How much intellect is necessary to be a devious, mean and brutal person to attain power by demolishing competition before they can even arise to challenge him? And who has already attained “power” by those 3 things unfairly and unjustly too!

    So, is more intellect and wisdom needed to tackle such a person who has got power from the equally self-centred, non-visionary, fearful and unwise electoral who are also apolitical electorate who just look at the present dollars and peace for now? As they know nothing about political systems or even what politics actually mean asan English word!

  • domesticaffairs

    @Bukit Merah Boy:

    You have said that the video is about “how the US is propping up a dictator Mubarak”.

    The point I’m trying to make is that foreign politicians will do things that benefit their own countries. If it is to their benefit to support a dictator, that is what they will do.

    Your point that that PAP govt has been “sucking up to US for years” is besides the point. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

    You don’t want to replace a domestic dictator with a foreign dictator who rules by proxy.


    “Do Singaporeans have the capabilities to right those things that Dr Chee and countless others see as wrongs, so much so that we need foreigners to ‘interfere’ in our domestic affairs?”

    That is exactly what worries me, that Dr Chee is inviting foreign politicians to interfere in our domestic affairs out of desperation, a sense that we are incapable of solving our own problem, and in the process, creating a bigger problem for ourselves.

    “Have you yourself personally taken charge of those domestic affairs resulting in fundamental changes?”

    That is besides the point. I am not a politician and I respect Dr Chee. But if I disagree with him, I’ll still disagree with him respectfully.

    I am a stake holder of this country and I have to consider carefully whether or not to support Dr Chee and his ideologies.

    “I for one am not so arrogant that I will not learn from a foreigner who is better equipped than I am about a paricular subject”.

    First of all, we are not talking about “learning from a foreigner” here. We are talking about inviting a foreign politician to intefere in our domestic affairs.

    Secondly, do you agree that if you are not capable of managing your own money, than you should let another person or organisation manage it for you? Is that why you deserve to have your money locked up in the CPF? It appears to me that a smarter thing to do is to learn to manage your own money.

    Not depending on foreigners to solve our own problem does not seem like “arrogance” to me.

    The problem in our country is many years in the making and it will not be solved overnight. I agree that it’s complicated but I have reservation as to whether seeking foreign help is the correct thing to do. I believe we should depend on ourselves to solve our own problem.


    “Was LKY himself right in bad mouthing Singaporeans to international National Geographic magazine?”

    That is besides the point. As I’ve said, two wrongs don’t make a right.

    Thank you.

  • Max Inc


    Chee did not invite the foreigners, foreign powers and foreign MNCs in, the PAP did. So now that they are here and have a stake in our economy, we need to tell them the truth about our political situation and to remind then to respec our rights. That is not interference, that is responsible citizenship. That is what Chee Soon Juan is doing.

    And may you be reminded that Singapore is a member of UN, Commonwealth and ASEAN. There are principles enshrined such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that PAP is answerable to, and must be reminded by the international community if we violate them.

    And here’s the final hard truth : PAP listens to foreign powers and companies more than they listen to you and me. Why? Because when you were asked by Robox what can you do to effect policy change, you totally evaded the question and the responsibility. Admit it, we are powerless. Many of us will never get to vote in a free and fair manner. Many of up will not march.

    And this is where Chee Soon Juan is so necessary. He is reminding foreigners to respect our civil rights and at the same time empowering the local citizenry to exercise it. No one else comes close.

  • Robox

    Thanks, Max Inc.

    Yes, domesticaffairs. You have evaded the one most important question I posed to you and that is what YOU have done to help right the wrongs in Singapore.

    It is important because it is a strong indicator of Singaporeans’ capacity to effect change both as individuals and collectively. Your skirting of the issue has only helped me to prove my point: you have not done anything BECAUSE you have been incapacitated from taking charge. But you are not the only Singaporean so affected; all of us are, no matter which specific capability (or capacity) we speak of. And neither do you have to be a politician to effect change because politicians can only do their job with sufficient support from the people.

    What is the level of willingness that Singaporeans – individually and collectively – possess to come forward to right wrongs? Do we seize the opportunities to do so or are we hampered by our fear of repercussions?

    If we have been unwilling because of fear, then we have been incapacitated.

    How do we rate our knowledge of the issues and the skills for analyzing them in an environment in which the PAP government has taken for themselves the monopoly on information flow? How do we rate our abilities to do something about those wrongs even if we had the necessary knowledge and complementary skills (ie. our access to resources)?

    If we don’t rate too well on those counts, then we have been incapacitated.

    Are there an entire array of strictures – legal or legalized ones – that prevent us from those accomplishing goals?

    If there are, then we have been incapacitated.

    If Singaporeans have been as severely incapacitated as I see, then who do we turn to if not non-Singaporeans?

    And this leads me to my next point. It is unsurprisingly evident in your post that you cast “foreigners” as people who only want to do us harm. That is, unfortunately for you, completely untrue but is a paranoia borne of xenophobia.

    Fortumately, Dr Chee and his supporters know that.

    We don’t have our blinkers on: the “evil” people are right here in Singapore relentlessly harming their fellow Singaporeans.

  • Robox

    One more thing, domesticaffairs, you said: “It appears to me that a smarter thing to do is to learn to manage your own money.”

    Isn’t that what I am advocating?

    If your personal financial management could do with some improvement, do you learn from yourself or do you learn from someone better at it than you, even if that “someone” is a book? (That book would have been authored by a human anyway.)

    What if there are no Singaporeans who are anywhere near as good at personal finanicial management as some foreigners are? Are you going to appeal to the false pride in Singaporean Exceptionalism and learn from the half baked expertise of Singaporeans instead?

    BTW, the PAP government constantly engages foreign consultants, learn from them, and then take the credit for any learning for themselves; they then go on to ensure that their opponents should be the only ones who should be deprived of doing likewise.

    I hope that that too is not what you are advocating.

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  • Winston Cheng

    I, too thought of CSJ as a madman years ago. I was a victim of propagander. But that changed after I attended his rally. When his supporters were shouting at the police, he appealed to them not to do so, saying that they are goodmen doing their job. So, CSJ, in my opinion is definitely not a person that the PAP made him out to be.

  • True Leaders

    Come on Singapore, if this man is a “a political juvenile and near-psychopath”,
    how they hell was he hired to shape the minds of our children at NUS.

    We have had almost every single true leader being called names, starting from “communist” in the 60s (which even the British did not believe) racist, lier, alcoholic etc.

    But I am most happy with the name “founding father” but definitely not in respect of Singapore but a despotic dynasty.

    However it never fails to amaze me as to how many educated “idiots”we have to believe what the MSM says.

  • Fugazzi

    We are mired with a media that is more lame and though espoused to be nation-building – it never seems so. it is a PAP-building one, hence to expect a balanced/impartial anaylsis is utterly futile.

    Dr Chee is perceived as being too clever, too smart and the truth is that the incumbents fear him more than anything else.
    Old fart and his minions rule by creating fear and of course, as a consequence of that he and his … live in fear.
    JBJ,Dr Chee and the likes of him who ask (ed) too much for transparency, accountablility or point(ed) out the errors or even lies are perceived as political threats to them. anathema to the incumbents is them being unseated and that is the fear that has them wanting so badly to be rid of such people.
    Aslo, the fear of being ”found out” belies these stances of muzzling, circumsribing the media. How to think is not what they want people to be but rather what to think as dictated by them.

    Have an independent national poll to see and feel how the incumbents fared so far and one would be shocked at the …

    Singaporeans need to be more discerning and understand that as long as they do not unlearn the incumbents” ways and conditioning, there is no hope for this nation.

  • Good Luck

    Hi Dr Chee, thanks for questioning the government.
    The more I work with incompetent immigrants in Singapore, the more I believe you should be voted into the Parliament. No forgetting to get rid of all those that gang up to force u out of the Uni.
    I know couple of FT insiders who can help u dig lots of internal juicy trash.

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  • Well Said

    I like his views, but Dr Chee is too confrontational for his own good.

    I’m glad he is not standing for election and making opposition look silly.

  • Better

    I like his views, and I hope that he can stand for elections one day and showcase the intellect that the oppositio sorely needs.

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  • well regurgitated

    I think why people who do not know Dr Chee thought he was a villian is because signapore is a young country whose citizens do not really have experience in politics.

    They rely on msm and do not generally have an analytical mind to find out more before concluding.

    its a failure of education system.

    you can study well but that is based on text books information GIVEN to you. Spoonfed. You never come up your intellectual property. You read what is given and then like vomiting, you regurgitate it all back and score A.

    Studying is not great.

    The ability to research what is not found in the books to learn more is greater.

    pathetically, singaporeans only has just begun to be inquisitive and Question the status quo. We need to thank the western technologies like Facebook, internet, blogs, forums, that by pass the MSM. We need to thank the young who are replacing the old population. The old generation over trusted so much so that they never learnt to question. Even if they question they regard having such a thinking as sinful if not wrong or immoral, something dirty, something evil.

    1st world.
    well travelled.
    well educated if not regurgitated.

    education is not wisdom.
    education is when you read what is Spoonfed to you.
    Wisdom is when you can derive knowledge.

  • Gandiolee shongdiogua

    But the imperial china of the dinosaurs years chose leaders based on how well they study leh. They rely on memorising the chinese literature a lot. Those who can memorise well had an edge.

    A scholar may not be able to take stress on the job.

    A scholar may not be able stand up after a defeat.

    A scholar can study but can he change a light bulb on his car?

    A scholar can study but does this certify his character?

    Must a scholar be a good person?

    A scholar in my view is simply just that, someone who can study a certain subject. There are so many things in this world he is ignorant about.

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