Singaporeans must not be fearful about expressing their views and voting for who they want, said Dr Ang Yong Guan in the Progress Singapore Party’s (PSP) Facebook Live broadcast on Thursday (11 June).
Dr Ang – who is a psychiatrist at Paragon Medical – was one of the panellists in the PSP’s virtual Meet-The-People session last night. The new member of the opposition party previously made his first appearance as an official member in a PSP’s Facebook video on 7 April.
During the Facebook Live session, a question was directed to Dr Ang on why there is still fear among Singaporeans when it comes to voting against the People’s Action Party (PAP).
In response, Dr Ang pointed out that there are two kinds of fear. The first kind is direct fear, and the other kind is indirect fear. He defined direct fear as fear of the Government and Government-related agencies.
“I think Singaporeans have been indoctrinated over the years, at least six decades,” he remarked.
Dr Ang outlined three things that the ruling party would say to indoctrinate the people. The first thing is that Singapore is a small country. Secondly, the country cannot afford to have a failure due to its vulnerability. The third point is that the country is surrounded by “big nations” which would intensify the vulnerability.
“So ear in ear out, we are indoctrinated with all the propaganda that we cannot allow to have diversity, we have to control the nation,” he added.
Furthermore, Singaporeans are afraid of the actions that might be taken against them if they do not vote for the ruling party or if they make complaints about the Government-related bodies.
“Everybody is afraid that if you go vote against the ruling party or if you complain against the Government agencies action would be taken against you. That is the kind of direct fear that many Singaporeans have,” Dr Ang noted.
Opposition parties were painted as “weak people”, while the PAP is seemingly capable of running the country, the PSP member asserted.
“People grow to realise that don’t talk bad about the PAP, don’t vote against them or something would happen to you,” he added.
Dr Ang also explained about the serial numbers on the ballot papers as some people are concerned that it would expose their vote. He reassured that the serial numbers exist solely to ensure the integrity of the ballot paper, adding that it would be disposed after six months.
“You notice those who voted for the opposition, they are courageous and nothing happens to them. So you don’t have to worry about the serial number,” he said.
Indirect fear, on the other hand, is in the form of “suing individuals”, Dr Ang remarked.
“Instilling fear in people that if you criticise the Government, if you ally yourself with dissidence, opposition parties, you will end up like them. So these are indirect fear that people have,” he added.
Self-censorship is another form of indirect fear, which most notably applies to the media. Dr Ang stated that the media practise self-censorship such as giving less airtime to the opposition members in order to please the ruling party.
“All these, whether it’s direct or indirect fear, are not good for the nation. Fear is a negative emotion, we mustn’t be fearful of expressing our views and voting for who we want to vote for,” he noted.
Dr Ang continued, “We are a first-world nation in terms of economic but we are a third-world nation in terms of politics. So it’s time that we change the atmosphere of fear.”
Govt needs to improve the quality of life in S’pore in order to increase the fertility rate
In response to a question on Singapore’s low fertility rate, Dr Ang said that the Government has been “pumping money” to improve the fertility rate in the country but it has been unsuccessful so far.
Some of the concerns that Singaporeans have when considering on having a child are the difficulty in raising a child, the high cost of living, the stress of studying in Singapore, and the projected population of 10 million people which is encouraging foreigners to be citizens in the country.
“All these various factors make it daunting fear for women to consider giving birth to a child. Then there’s this thought about 10 million population that came from imported people, encouraging outsiders to become Singapore citizens,” he asserted.
“So on one hand, you have a low fertility rate, and then here you talk about 10 million population. It’s a confusing message,” Dr Ang added.
He went on to suggest that 5.5 million to 6 million population is the ideal population for Singapore, hinting that the country can then focus on building infrastructure and the quality of life, other than the economic growth.
“To encourage women to give birth, to improve the total fertility rate, you really have to stress on increasing quality of life,” Dr Ang remarked.
He also spoke about the perceptions of the high cost of living in Singapore as the country has been the most expensive city in the world for three consecutive years.
In regards to the stress of studying in Singapore, Dr Ang noted that the “definition of success is so narrow” in the country, usually referring to as “academic success”.
There is a need to broaden the concept of success to non-academic subjects, so that the child can branch-off to non-academic subjects if they are not good in academic subjects.
“Clearly, pumping money is not the solution, we got to create a conducive environment for women to say ‘I want to have a child, I want to have a baby in a great city with high quality of life’,” he added.