Transcript of the pre-election rally speech by Dr Vincent Wijeysingha of the Singapore Democratic Party on 13 November. We thank Dr Vincent for providing us with this transcript at our request.
It is an honour to have the opportunity to address you again, my fellow Singaporeans, who share with me a love and a concern for the future of our country.
You know, I have lived in many places. And everywhere I went, I always came home. Home to our familiar Singlish. Home to mee pok, satay, prata. Home to MacRitchie Reservoir and the East Coast. The beautiful shophouses of Joo Chiat, the grand buildings on St Andrew’s Road. Home to my people. Those of you who have been abroad like I have will know the constant yearning to come home.
But home has stopped feeling like home. For all the PAP accusations that Singaporeans treat our country like a hotel, it is they who have turned us out of our home and then rented it back to us as tenants.
We no longer live in our own country. We live in a strange land, where we are not entitled to share with one another what hurts us and harms our community; where we are disallowed from discussing what needs to be done; where those who speak up are rebuked and accused of treason. Where honest, decent people who work for the welfare of their fellows [sic] are silenced.
But the SDP has refused to be silenced. The SDP has insisted on its right, the right of citizenship, to speak up where things have gone wrong; to tell those in power when they have lost their way; to not pretend not to notice the elderly and weak who are literally cast on the trash heaps of our nation to fend for themselves. To say enough, no more.
We look around us and we are unhappy with what we see. We look around us and have decided that we will not look the other way.
Today, we offer the people of Singapore an alternative vision for our nation. Today we offer the people of Singapore a set of fresh, creative and humane ideas to rejuvenate our nation and make our community live again.
Our party programme has been the result of many years’ work by many dedicated people who have looked deeply into where we are and [where] we might end up if we don’t shift course now. It’s About You is a comprehensive programme that has been costed and tested against the thinking of internationally-renowned academics.
It is a departure from the timeworn, redundant policies of flooding the country with cheap labour, filling every available space with a multinational moneymaking venture, and constantly telling the people to spend and spend and spend. And in the process of doing it, raising the cost of basic services, housing, doctors, school books so that Singaporeans struggle just to keep a roof over their heads, and have to debate whether or not that nagging pain can wait till next month to see a doctor.
This is not a policy we want. This is not a country we want. This is not a future we look forward to.
My friends, at this stage, I want to say something about the SDP’s response to the immigration policy. The SDP is not, and never has been, a racist or xenophobic party. We have always supported the rights of all people and have campaigned that no one’s human dignity should be denied.
The SDP makes a clear distinction between the migrant workers who are in our midst and the highly misplaced immigration policy that is threatening to inundate the island with more people than it can afford, and at a cost to our socio-cultural fabric that has not been assessed in any way. As the party which has shown its commitment to defending human rights, we argue strongly for the rights of migrant workers. But we state very clearly that the PAP’s immigration policy is not only ill-advised but threatens to tear apart the fabric of our community that we have build over these many years.
We look forward to a future where all Singaporeans are safe and cared for. Where all our children have the opportunity for an excellent education; where all our old people can live out their last days in comfort and dignity. This is your right and this is what we demand for you.
Once upon a time, the PAP strove to provide these things. Today, the PAP has utterly and totally lost its way. It has lost the right to tell us that it knows best and does best.
Our alternative vision speaks to your deepest aspirations. Our alternative vision is your vision. I invite you strongly to get a copy for yourself. To find out what we propose and how we’ve arrived at those proposals. To see for yourself that some of our policies have even now been taken on by the PAP. To read the views of internationally-renowned thinkers who support our vision.
Let me share with you some highlights of the programme:
We call for a new, internationally-recognised way of measuring how well the economy is doing from the viewpoint of the people.
We want to see income rebalancing policies like restructuring tax bands, introducing a minimum wage, looking again at the level of GST and removing it from essential goods.
We advocate retrenchment benefits for those who have lost their jobs and are taking time to retrain to re-enter the workforce. After all, not all of us earn enough to save for that rainy day since wages have so significantly declined for ordinary Singaporeans.
We want to see the creation of rooted and sustainable homegrown companies through policies that enhance the capability of our small and medium sector.
We propose reducing the cost of HDB flats to make them truly a public service and not a money-making, profit-oriented concern.
And we propose ways to increase expenditure on education and healthcare to build a healthy, and thinking, dedicated and creative population which can meet the challenges of the 21st century and when it is time to retire, retire healthy and happy.
My friends, with the publication of It’s About You, we say firmly that no longer can the PAP write off the SDP. In fact, the worn-out habits of the PAP are what should be written off as tiresome and pointless. The SDP’s programme offers a constructive and workable alternative, an alternative that the PAP is afraid of, because it has nothing with which to challenge it. It has nothing because with long-time success has come laziness and complacency.
We, the SDP, are not complacent. We place our proposals before you, the people of Singapore and we ask you to coldly, soberly, intelligently, measure them against what has been thrown at us these recent years which have resulted in the structural problems we are facing today. And we ask you to challenge the government, ask what its response is to the SDP.
What is our response to the PAP? We say it is time you went, and went quickly. And leave the government of this country to those who care about it, about its people. About its future. Because It’s About You.
My friends, at this stage, I invite you to join with us, to help us. What you see at this rally has come about through hard work, time, effort and energy. And of course, money. We need your support, at whatever level you can give. Come volunteer with us, join us, support us. Help us to do what you want us to do: To represent you, to speak up for you. To see that it remains about you.
Thank you and good night.