by Constance Singam
“If credibility, trust, and character become critical issues in deciding the political outcome, the destruction of credibility and character assassination become the most potent political weapons.” (Manuel Castells)
Here we go again.
Character assassination is a very effective method used against dissenters and opposition political parties to discredit them and eliminate them from public life. This is a very successful strategy used by our government and which have been honed in by over 50 years’ of execution. It is now being deployed against PJ Thum, Kirsten Han and others. They are targets especially since they are activists, intelligent and articulate. It is so predictable and rather tiresome.
As I watch this strategy unfold I am reminded of all those people, J B Jeyaratnam, Francis Seow, Chee Soon Juan, and others all of whom paid a heavy price for standing up to the People's Action Party. All those years we remained silent. Our silence has resulted in the emasculation of our public life and has discouraged able and good people from participating in opposition party politics. For our country, these are heavy prices to pay.
A political party, and a one-party system of government, which welcomes only party loyalists and ‘ye sayers’, and that is hostile to dissenters, cannot attract the best candidates to contribute to the country's political life. The result is the leadership crisis that we face today.
This is a cause for serious worry. Singaporeans have a right to be worried and they should worry. But they should act.
We cannot remain silent. We have been conditioned by history and by our one-party system of government to accept the government’s methods of control over our public life. Traumatized by the conditions of our independence, fifty- three years ago, we Singaporeans complied with our government’s actions to set limits to our freedom, sometimes in fear, sometimes recognizing the need for stability and economic growth till we reached a point when government control became so complete and repressive that fear and apathy have become our default mode.
But we can no longer afford to remain apathetic or keep silent. We have to act and use the power we do have to ensure that good people get elected.
And we do have the power to act and to make a difference. All governments, including the PAP government, is dependant on the electorate to get elected.
So as we watch the government determined in its strategy to put down dissenters we have to see it for what it is: a potent political weapon but just fake news. We have to ask ourselves why a powerful government such as this one is so determined to tarnish an individual’s character and destroy his credibility?
This was first published at Ms Singam's blog and reproduced with permission