• Serena Tan

Dedicated to Chiam See Tong and all Singaporeans

I probably have share this notes in facebook, forgetting after a while, it will disappear somewhere and archives into thin air…

coming to the last day of the GE rallies.. today i came upon this article written by Lin Shiyun   in facebook and thought i repost it here for myself to remember in months and years to come.

For Chiam See Tong we respect…

Extract from Lin Shiyun notes:-

In this General Election, I may appear to some people as a kind of political whore. My best friend, Zai Kuning, and I were running all over the island to attend the nominations and rallies. We have not stopped thinking about Singapore (some of you may dismiss it as “politics”) since the nomination day, even in our sleeps, and I know that we are not alone. I have many friends who are doing the same, and those who don’t run around like a getai star are always faithfully at the computer feeding us up-to-date information like the statellite (you know who you are :)).

It is as if the elections have consumed our lives, but I would like to see it that we are all woken up, and realised that if we do not actively participate and claim our narratives, there is no doubt that the ruling party will literally consume all of us.

I have been planning to write a piece on the six reasons why I cannot allow PAP to hold absolute power in parliament, but after attending tonight’s rally at Potong Pasir, I can’t help myself but to write about how Mr. Chiam See Tong have touched and enlightened me.

I attended two rallies prior to this: SDP and WP rally at commonwealth and serangoon respectively. I was very impressed by the “Winning-11” team that the SDP has garnered as each of them respresented to me a distinct and genuine interest in the “software” (to quote Dr.Ang) of the society – teacher, social worker, ex-political detainee, psychiatrist… I am convinced that they will take care of the less priviledged in the society, and they have promised to give half their allowance to the needy in the community if they were to be elected. Over at WP rally, although I was not particularly impressed by what the candidates had said, the number of people who were there to listen was intoxicating and certainly, WP will be a great catalyst for change in the parliament.

However, after two rallies, I felt I had a bit enough of the PAP bashing. The attack of the lack of accountability and problems of PAP is of course, very relevant and necessary (I am still going around with “vote opposition” statements pasted on my back) but personally I think I am clear enough about the atrocities of the ruling party: What PAP propagates is basically a selfish, self-preserving culture. All the bad policies and tactics they have devised is a result of this warped immoral thinking, and definitely, it is poisoning the society inside out. I had enough of it, yes, I am fed up! And so I really wanted to know what are the dreams of the opposition parties. I wanted to know how they think about human life. I wanted to know how they can lead Singaporeans to feel beautiful again. Is there someone who can wake up the sleeping flowers in our hearts?

I found the answer in Mr. Chiam See Tong today at SPP rally.

Mr.Chiam began his speech with the question of why he decided to leave Potong Pasir and contest in Bishan-Toa Payoh. He answered, “for the promotion of democracy. There can never be democracy if there is no opposition in the parliament.” There isn’t a fancy slogan like first-world parliament, which at times really makes one wonder what it means. Mr.Chiam’s fight is for democracy, and he will never retire with a peaceful mind if he does not see this happening in Singapore. This is the reason why he has to break a GRC, the dirtiest divide-and-rule tactic the ruling party has devised since JBJ won a seat in Anson.

Do I doubt Mr.Chiam’s fight? There is very little room for doubt when you see him in person: frail in physique, strong as steel in the mind, and gentle as a whispering father in his speech. There is almost no room for doubt when you think about how he and Mrs.Chiam have suffered under the government’s brutality (he still doesn’t have his own office) trying to serve the residents in Potong Pasir the best that they can. And there is absolutely no room for doubt when you continue listening till the end of his speech, because he values every individual as a human being capable of living her or her life to the fullest, and is not just a pawn or a statistics.

I will describe to you my memory of the conclusion of his speech, which took place after quite a long pause. I imagined that his team was worried it would be too tiring for him to continue, but he insisted to carry on.

Like a grandfather telling a story to his grandchildren, Mr.Chiam told us how Lee Kuan Yew first assessed this man called Chiam See Tong. LKY looked at his O level certificate. (laughter from the crowd)

“He counted very carefully. 1. 2. 3…5. Only 5 O levels?” (another round of laughter)

“How many of you have 5 O level?”

My best friend shouted “I don’t have any!” as several in the crowd raised their hands.

Mr.Chiam smiled in his heart (I could feel) and replied,

“Then you and I are the same. And I have become a lawyer now.”

At this point, the crowd cheered so loudly that a friend who was sleeping on the other side of the estate was woken up by the uproar. After a round of hearty laughter, the crowd fell silent as Mr.Chiam continued speaking (he apologised in the beginning that we have to be very quiet because he couldn’t speak loudly). He told us that it is o.k if we are not as smart as the others, and it is o.k if we do not seem as successful as the others. Some of us maybe late bloomers, but all of us have the potential to be better people, as long as we stay true to ourselves and keep trying.

“When there is life there is hope, when there is hope, there will be change.”

I will always remember how effortlessly he had delivered that line and how many people were moved to tears while listening to him speak. Besides the immediate reference that despite two strokes, Mr.Chiam continue his fight for change in Singapore, I believe that these tears are also the most heartfelt human emotions that can only be brought out by the encouragement of a most loving father.

It is okay. It is okay.

You have not failed.

I have not failed.

We have not failed.

Just keep trying, my child,

together, let’s keep trying.

With each living breath,

We can be better.

We will be better.

Thank you Mr. Chiam See Tong. I was in such a despair after reading and witnessing so much atrocities and brutality that the ruling party and Lee Kuan Yew have done to gentle people like you, Dr. Vincent Cheng, Ms Teo Suh Lung, Dr. Lim Hock Siew and many more people who have been forever silenced in the PAP version of history. I was in such a despair thinking how Singaporeans will disappear with the influx of yet another 1 million foreigners. I was in such a despair thinking how our children will have to grow up in this self-perserving culture that propagates bottomless fear and arrogance thinking about nothing but Money. But tonight, you have shown me, shown all Singaporeans, the light. And I am not angry and upset anymore.

Singaporeans. This election has nothing to do with GRCs. It is time to stop all these ongoing, useless debates and arguments that the ruling party wants to confuse you with. It is time to stop all the hype about Tin Pei Ling Vs Nicole Seah, Worker’s Party conspiracy, Mas Selamat, upgrading lifts, grow and share etc.

This election is, with no doubt, about the past, the present, and the future of Singapore.

It is about how PAP has completely crippled our rights to claim the power of our narratives as a living community and worthy individuals. It is about how they do whatever they want without a single question asked or answered. It is about how we, the citizens of Singapore, want the stories of our forefathers and mothers to be remembered and told; It is about how we, the citizens of Singapore, want to write our story from now; It is about how our children, the future citizens of Singapore, can be the writers of their stories without fear.

Ultimately, it is about trying to achieve democracy and equality in Singapore, as long as we have one more living breath.


Singapore is not PAP.

I love Singapore very much, but not the PAP.

Please, please don’t let them bully and silent us anymore.

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