What is the spirit of democracy?

credit: ST

The front page of Straits Times today quoted PAP’s candidate George Yeo as saying “Workers Party is forcing an “emotional dilemma” on the Aljunied GRC’s voters who have to choose between “enlightened self-interest” and the opposition’s interest. He further added that many people have written on his Facebook saying that they feel uncomfortable about this.

I found what he said incredulous and was incensed to read further that he said in reference to this supposed dilemma: “I find that it’s against the spirit of democracy”.

What Mr Yeo said and the way he said it was insidiously misleading and it reminded me of the saying “Beware the smiling tiger”. With his gentle style of speech, and the benign way he said those lines above, it is easy to be lulled into thinking he is right to the unthinking and to his supporters.

As a citizen with a stake in my country, I am affronted by what he said. First of all, we are thinking citizens and are not led by the nose by any party. Let’s get this right – the opposition parties’ cause IS OUR cause. We the people of Singapore want accountability and integrity in our government. We want a government who puts the people’s concerns before the GDP.

As for the so called sugar-coated “enlightened self-interest” that Mr Yeo refers to, is he referring to the PAP’s ‘incentive” of estate upgrading or is he implying that without PAP, the people will be bereft of benefits and the country is doomed to ruin? On the latter, it is a fallacy perpetuated by them and their hard-core believers. No one and no party is indispensable so long as there are talented and able people in the country. And to those who ask who replace Mr Yeo will should he get voted out, we need look no further than the amply qualified “dealmaker of the year” Chen Show Mao of Workers Party.

I find it ironic that Mr Yeo says that by giving people choices and getting them to think about the choices, “’it is against the spirit of democracy.”   I will like to ask him: “Is it democratic to gerrymander to eliminate the opposition and deprive us of our voting rights? Is it in the spirit of democracy to use upgrading as a tool to scare people into voting for PAP? In a democratic country like ours, why is there a pervasive atmosphere of fear that has muzzled the people from speaking up over the years against the party’s policies and arrogance?”

If we go by what the PAP has been doing and saying all this while, it seems their definition of democracy is akin to a master saying to the servants: “I feed you and clothe you. so you have no right to question me as to what I do. And if you do, you are ungrateful.” Well, we are not servants and they are not our masters. They will do well to remember that Parliament members are elected to do a job.

Many of us are put off by the increasingly arrogance displayed by the ruling party and their lack of transparency and accountability. We are sick of their attempts at brainwashing us into compliance and docility.

We want changes which is why so many people are supporting opposition parties. Without our desire for change, the opposition would not survive, without our call for change, they would not have attempted to contest all constituencies. They are here because they have heeded our call for change.

What Singaporeans are facing now is not an emotional dilemma but a moral one. We need to think carefully if we want Singapore to continue the way it is. Do we continue building a shell of shining towers and gilded walkways which we have plenty already? Or do we now focus on building a soul – a real nation where the people have a true sense of ownership and belonging?

Singapore’s hardware is well in place and should continue to progress well economically and we should not fear change. Now the time is ripe to vote with our conscience in the spirit of democracy. We are not looking to replace PAP but we are seeking to vote in some different alternative voices to provide the needed checks and balance.  A vote for change now is a vote for a better government, one that truly represents the views of the people and which will do what is right by the people, for the people.