Ever since news broke of the embattled human rights lawyer, M Ravi’s public assault of lawyer and politician, Jeanette Chong-Aruldoss, the Internet has been alight with comments and discussions.
Apart from the disturbing news of the unsolicited attack on her person, this unfortunate incident has also raised other concerning issues vis-à-vis the public’s understanding of opposition politics and democracy for that matter.
A search on the subject matter has uncovered that quite a number of people have mocked opposition politics by lumping Chong-Aruldoss and Ravi in the same category and calling it a case of “ownself attack ownself”.
Firstly, I would like to point out something which I had thought was pretty obvious: there are different opposition parties. They have diverging manifestos and ideologies. They are not all the same. To call M Ravi’s outburst an “own goal” is therefore inaccurate and ignorant.
Let’s get it clear here. M Ravi represented the Reform Party for GE2015. Chong-Aruldoss is from the Singapore Peoples’ Party. For the avoidance of doubt, let me reiterate that these are separate parties. They are in no way affiliated to each other. The only similarity that they have with each other is that they are not the PAP. Perhaps for some people who simply do not understand the constructs of a democracy, this is enough to sweepingly assert that Chong-Aruldoss and Ravi bat for the same side. What they fail to comprehend is that a full fledged democracy should have multiple different parties!
In the Singapore system, because of the PAP’s long tenure in power, some people have been led to believe that there is just the PAP and “the others”, conveniently pigeon holing non PAP politicians as simply “the others” without an attempt to try and understand what they each stand for.
This brings me to the second point of Singaporeans’ need to categorise people. In their desire to fit people neatly into boxes, they have generalised all opposition politicians and grouped them just as “the opposition”. Despite being in different parties with different manifestos, they are still judged as the same. How is this fair? And more importantly, how is this logical or beneficial?
Does it not in fact blindside the electorate?
The point of having divergent voices in politics is to ensure that the electorate have the best possible choice and access to a broad range of ideas. How is this objective ever to be achieved if Singaporeans refuse to even acknowledge that not all non PAP politicians stand for the same thing?
Lastly, making this attack out as some sort of internal opposition political party spat dismisses the gravity of the matter. It trivialises the trauma that has been endured by Chong-Aruldoss and simplifies the very serious nature of mental illnesses.
This is not entertainment, folks. Someone was assaulted and another is suffering a public meltdown that is in need of urgent treatment.