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Vincent Wijeysingha: This is home where I root myself

By Loke Hoe Yeong

SDP Rally at Clementi Ave 4 open field, 1 May 2011.

 

‘Our home is the centre of our family,’ declared Vincent Wijeysingha. ‘This is my land where I root myself, in spite of the turbulence of life.’

‘But when I am made to feel that the only worth of my home is the amount of dollars it can be converted into, then I know the PAP government has failed.’

Speaking at the end of the SDP’s rally last night, Dr Wijeysingha articulated a powerful vision of a Singaporean community of neighbours and friends. Such a community, he said, was already in existence with the old kampung links and three/four-generational homes. But extended families were broken up by the divisive policies of the PAP, with their understanding of society ‘shaped by money, fear and selfishness’, he added.

While acknowledging that asset management and GDP growth are important to the nation, they are the ‘hardware’ which should exist only to serve the ‘software that makes life worth living.’

Dr Wijeysingha’s speech closed a fiery SDP rally, at which every inch of the Clementi Ave 4 field and the corridors of the surrounding flats were packed by the end of the evening. The names of Lee Kuan Yew, Goh Chok Tong and Vivian Balakrishnan were booed for their recent personal attacks on the SDP’s Holland-Bukit Timah GRC candidates, whereas the names of Goh Keng Swee (for Tan Jee Say, ‘the real architect behind Singapore’s economic success’) and S. Rajaratnam were cheered.

Tan Jee Say: I do not expect such comments after five years of loyal service’

Also of importance at the rally was Tan Jee Say’s response to personal remarks made by PAP figures on him – in particular, to Goh Chok Tong’s remark that Mr Tan did not make the cut to be a Permanent Secretary, and hence resigned from the Civil Service.

Mr Tan expressed both surprise (‘Goh Chok Tong had said he won’t comment on candidates outside of his Marine Parade GRC’, Tan pointed out) and sadness at SM Goh’s depiction of his departure from the civil service.

He explained that when his government scholarship bond expired in 1984, he was asked by Mr Goh to stay on in the civil service as his principle private secretary for three to five years more, to help with the transition to power of Singapore’s G2 (second-generation) leaders. Mr Tan agreed, and at the end of the five years, he requested to leave. Eventually he did so with Mr Goh’s blessings.

‘I gave five of my best years to Mr Goh,’ Tan said. ‘I did not ask for the job... and it was not my mission in life to be perm sec anyway.’

‘I do not expect such comments after five years of my loyal service.’

In response to MM Lee’s charge that Tan had no qualification to talk about restructuring Singapore’s economy, Tan pointed out that he had once headed the economic and manpower planning unit of the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

He also asked if the Minister Mentor had seen the study carried out and published by the Ministry of Trade and Industry last year, entitled Is Smoother Always Better? Understanding Singapore's Volatility-Growth Relationship’. (Read the MTI article, especially p 68-9). That study showed that volatility in Singapore’s economy stemmed from the manufacturing sector.

At the close of the rally, Dr Chee Soon Juan led the 11 SDP candidates to meet enthusiastic supporters in the field. At the SDP’s sales booth, Dr Chee was seen shaking hands with a crowd of well-wishers and chatting with them on a variety of issues such as the unity of the opposition parties, in addition to doing book signings.

Doesn’t look like a protest march to me.

Quotable quotes from the rally:

‘The ERP is supposed to control congestion at peak hours. Why is the CTE ERP until 10.30pm? The government still wants us to go home and make babies.’ – Dr Ang Yong Guan (for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC)

‘The PAP tells you that you are dumb, you have no talent… hence the need for foreign talent.’ – Michelle Lee (for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC)

‘Does everyone here know about Operation Johor Bahru?’ – Dr James Gomez (for Sembawang GRC), to laughter.

‘Today is May Day… trade unionists who are forced to carry the PAP flags – I know you’re under pressure. Don’t worry – on Polling Day, touch your hearts and vote for the SDP.’ – Sadasivam Veriyah (for Sembawang GRC)

‘Only in Singapore can ministers get away with such lame excuses.’ – John Tan (for Sembawang GRC)

‘The PAP has not only lost its direction, it has lost its sense of hearing.’ – Alec Tok (for Bukit Panjang SMC)

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F0r pictures of the rally, click here.

For more TOC news about the general election, please visit our GE website as well. Click here.

Dr Wijeysingha's speech: