The Online Citizen reviews and critiques the National Day (ND) messages of the various political parties. We begin with the Workers' Party's message, which was delivered by the vice-president of the party's Youth Wing, Mr Koh Choong Yong (pictured below).
What should the National Day message from a political party be about? Should it be a statement of the party’s values, mission, and plans for the future? Should it be a simple statement of solidarity with Singaporeans? Or should it be a little bit of both?
Reading the Worker’s Party’s National Day message left me with the impression that they tried to be a little bit of everything, but whatever message they wanted to convey was lost in a sea of vague and disjointed thoughts.
It starts off by saying that our country was founded 44 years ago on the ideals of democracy, peace, progress, justice and equality, but that we have been losing our way on some of these ideals. I thought a more significant milestone would be our nation’s 50th anniversary of self-government rather than the teary goodbye with Malaysia 44 years ago.
A few rhetorical questions are then asked, like if we want a future where we are judged only by our economic worth, or a future where the less able have to fend for themselves.
But WP’s message does not address these concerns. It does not elaborate on what it thinks are the causes of these problems or the possible ways to resolve them. Instead, they immediately start talking about how they believe Singapore can be a truly great nation in which each Singaporean is regarded as a valuable citizen, and our nation is respected not just for its material wealth but also for the kindness and generosity of its people and leaders.
If readers of WP’s message started falling asleep at this juncture due to the boredom at being doused with yet another array of apple pie and motherhood statements (after having been inundated by the mainstream media with similar statements for two weeks running), I would not blame them.
The party then invites fellow Singaporeans to “reflect on the relation between being more and having more”. What exactly does this vague, poorly worded statement mean? Reading further, I figured that they meant that Singaporeans should not focus all their attention on material pursuits, but also pay attention to the intangibles like our humanity, conscience and dignity.
How many Singaporeans can afford the luxury of contemplating the intangibles in life when the Government has allowed the cost of living to escalate and people are finding themselves caught up in a rat race in which they have to compete with an increasing number of foreigners for jobs?
The Worker’s Party places the onus on Singaporeans to improve themselves and become better people. Nothing at all is mentioned about our political leaders. Nothing is mentioned about how Singaporeans should work together to address the concerns that were mentioned earlier.
The message then ends with an invitation to readers to participate in the “being more” events organized by their Youth Wing, such as their essay writing competition and a Town Hall dialogue.
What was the whole point of WP’s National Day message? Has anyone gotten it yet? I certainly have not. The message starts off on a political note, listing out some national ideals that have been abandoned, and mentioning issues like our votes being diluted due to gerrymandering. But it quickly fizzled into an amalgamation of fortune-cookie sentiments that makes for a boring read.
To top it off, the party’s message was signed by Mr Koh Choong Yong, Vice-President of the party’s Youth Wing. The question that naturally arises is why the message was not directly endorsed by either the Secretary-General, Mr Low Thia Khiang, or the Chairman, Ms Sylvia Lim?
Perhaps the intent was for a fresh face to be seen delivering the message on behalf of the party. If so, then the WP could have been more creative and invested some time and energy in producing a video clip, or even better, having some young faces deliver the message at Speaker’s Corner. For the WP to simply have the Youth Wing vice-president sign off on a written statement appears quite lackadaisical.
All in all, this is not the kind of National Day message I expect from an opposition political party that has openly expressed its vision of being a credible check on the ruling PAP and possibly becoming large enough one day to form an alternative Government.
You can read the WP ND message here.