The following article is by Jeannette Chong-Aruldoss, Secretary-General, National Solidarity Party. It was first published on the NSP website here: “The silence of fear“.
Three years after what was hailed as a “watershed” election in GE 2011, many Singaporeans are still wary of opposition politicians and afraid of voicing their views on political issues.
In these past days, the subject of our CPF monies and the CPF Minimum Sum scheme has hogged the hearts and minds of many Singaporeans.
Being keen to hear directly from CPF account holders themselves, NSP is hosting a public dialogue to be held this Wednesday evening, 4 June 2014.
Details of the event are set out at this link:https://www.facebook.com/events/1493126197566828/
Finding a venue to host our forums has always been a challenge for us. We have gotten used to organisations declining to offer their spaces to us once we identify ourselves – a non-ruling political party.  Of course, there are other organisations which are neutral towards us and have no issue offering their available space to us.
Last Thursday, we found an available hall whose manager did not mind our status as a political party. But when we mentioned to the manager that our event was to discuss the CPF Minimum Sum scheme, the manager immediately declined to offer their hall to us, mumbling that the topic was too “political” and requested us to look for another venue.
On Friday, we were relieved to find another available venue whose management had no issue with us being a political party. But to our dismay, the manager of this second venue called us the next day to cancel our booking and to refund our payment. They had misgivings about letting us use their premises for our forum. They were concerned that our forum is about CPF monies and cited what happened to the blogger, Roy Ngerng as a reason for their fears.
Clearly, outside the MIW umbrella, public discussion of our CPF monies and the CPF Minimum Sum scheme has become taboo. We know that we will not be able to hire any commercial venue for our upcoming forum.
Nonetheless, we are not be deterred. We will carry on with our event and hold it at our Party HQ at Jalan Besar, though the seating capacity there is limited and the place is not ideally located.
In 21 May 2014, MARUAH issued a statement expressing their concern that the Prime Minister’s legal action against blogger Roy Ngerng would further shrink the space for public discourse in Singapore and limit the space for expression.
The two rejections we have received from venue providers is proof that the Prime Minister’s law suit against Roy Nerng has instilled fear in the public and has caused a chilling effect on public discourse.
How can that be good for Singapore?