Members and supporters of the Singapore Democratic Party gathered at Hong Lim Park on Sunday to celebrate the end of Walk the Talk 2015, in which the SDP’s Secretary-General Chee Soon Juan successfully completed a four-day, three-night walk around the country.
“What Dr Chee has done in the last four days is to demonstrate what commitment is all about,” added SDP vice chairman John Tan. “He has walked and persisted for four days despite the fact that his knee is hurting him and he had really good reasons to stop. But he persisted.”
Chee was greeted by supporters who formed up two rows to cheer him as he entered Hong Lim Park. His wife Mei waited at the end of the column with an SDP flag, which she draped around his shoulders as he kissed her on the cheek.
He briefly greeted and thanked people for their attendance, and posed for group photographs before taking a break while other SDP members and candidates in the 2015 election gave speeches.
Paul Tambyah, who stood in Holland-Bukit Timah GRC during the election, once again highlighted the power imbalance in Singapore's electoral system. "Under the current system, how well the opposition does depends entirely on the ruling party, and I think that's the reality we have to be aware of and it's something that we have to deal with. We have to work within and we have to work around," he said.
He urged Singaporeans to use their voices to air concerns and pressure the government to respond. "There are small little avenues which are open and instead of using them to pick on our poor fellow citizens, perhaps we should use them to demand transparency and accountability from our government the way that the major political parties have been doing, but to get that out there," he said, referring to the STOMP trend of cyber-vigilantism.
Taking to the stage at the end of the event, Chee once again reiterated SDP’s core message: that economic success must go hand-in-hand with political rights. "Without political freedom, without a more open society, our economy is going to get deeper and deeper into trouble," he said.
"Our message to this government is that you must be a government that inspires, not intimidates. One that calls on the best in all of us, not dumbs down society. And the only way that this can happen is that we liberalise our political system," he added.
Chee also repeated his call for the state to liberalise the media, much of which remains under the control and influence of the government due to legislation such as the Newspapers and Printing Presses Act.
"In this day and age, we still have every TV station, every radio channel, every newspaper firmly in the hands of the PAP," he said. "If we continue on this way, our people are going to be drained of their energy, our best and brightest are going to leave this country."
At the time of writing, the SDP is still finalising the total amount of money they have raised throughout the walk