article 14

Not too long ago, there was a time when we sing the song “We are Singapore”, and feel proud doing so.

But now as we sing it, our voices expresses a tinge of sadness.

Within this song itself, our National Pledge resides. No other song has it.

And our pledge reads, that,

“We, the citizens of Singapore, Pledge ourselves as one united people, regardless of race, language of religion, to build a democratic society, based on Justice and Equality, so as to achieve happiness, prosperity and progress for our Nation.”

In this day and age, we are almost half a century old, but today, the democracy of our nation has been further dealt a heavy blow by the MDA’s reigning act on the social media.

This act, together with many others, that has happened recently, or in the past, or in history, makes a mockery of our pledge.

From the days of Operation Spectrum, when innocent Catholics who were forced to admit themselves as Marxists, in a nation-wide campaign on TV, to the persecution of Dr. Chee Soon Juan, and to the ill-treatment of Joshua Benjamin Jeyaratnam, and to the shabby treatment of opposition wards, and finally, in the words of our beloved President Ong Teng Cheong, when ask about the help he received when protecting our national reserves:

“No, I did not (have enough staff to do the checking). I only had one administrative staffer and two part-timers from the auditor-general’s office.”

President Ong never backtracked when he believed the interests of Singaporeans were at stake. He fought for the interests of the nation when he marshaled 4000 trade unionists to protest against the arrests of local lawyers.

As NTUC Secretary-General, he sanctioned a strike in the shipping industry, where the management was taking advantage of the workers. He did not inform the cabinet in advance, knowing they would probably have stopped him.

True enough, then Minister for Trade and Industry Dr. Tony Tan, was “very angry”, as he revealed later. The strike only lasted two days and then all the issues were settled. Thanks to President Ong, the workers’ rights were protected.

In his term, our constitution was amended many times, in fact four times, just to make up of the failings of the government, and to prevent him from veto-ing the government, as well as preventing him from safe-guarding our reserves. And when he died, he was not given a state funeral.

Today as we look within our government, who are the role-models from which our younger generation can learn from? One who exemplifies a leader who is willing to fight for his people? Is it an irony, that the people whom the younger generation can truly learn from, who make excellent examples of proud men and women, all come from the
Opposition parties?

Our beloved country Singapore has slowly grown from a strong democracy which we were proud of, to a shadow of herself now, bound by chains of greed. A nation in which the true purpose of civil service and society is slowly fading. A people who has grown indifferent from decades of propaganda brainwashing, or cowed by fear.

Indeed we have many questions to ask ourselves, why has it happened.

In remembrance of J.B.Jeyaratnam:

“The press, is one of the institutions of a democratic society. Some people might say that it is the most important institution of a democratic society. It is, along with the other institutions, the guardian of the Liberty of the people.

It must take it upon itself the responsibility to eke out any injustices, any wrong doings committed, against the people or even just one member of the society, and to speak out against it” – J.B.Jeyaratnam, in a parliamentary speech made in February 1999

Let us remind ourselves today, that as boys to men, we recited the SAF pledge to defend and support our constitution, and Article 14 of our constitution states that it “guarantees to Singapore citizens the rights to freedom of speech and expression, peaceful assembly without arms, and association.”

It is no wonder that i teared in great sadness when i watched this video clip. Tan29th May 2013


Joe Tan