Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Breaking news: Judge acquits SDP leaders

UPDATE: Reading the comments for this post, I think I better explain myself. What I'm saying is the PAP has been trying to show that it is making progress with regard to freedom in Singapore - it allows protests in Hong Lim, it gave up trying to control the Internet, unbanned Singapore Rebel, upgrade flats in Hougang & Potong Pasir, and so on. It is trying to make democracy a non-issue among most Singaporeans and win the support of the younger generation. Also, I believe the political changes in neighboring countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan & S.Korea - countries which were once far less democratic than us but are now vibrant democracies makes the need for change more compelling. While I believe that the PAP is not changing fast enough and insist on more being done in this area - they are taking a measured approach, that MIGHT satisfy the vast majority of Singaporeans whose primary concern is food on the table and a (big?) roof over their heads. The SDP has associated itself with the fight for democracy which is good. However, to win elections, it has to exploit the bread and butter issues - there is no better time given the pathetic performance of the PAP in the past 4 years, I think they have really dropped the ball. While the SDP has addressed bread and butter issues, the perception is they are primarily concerned about making Singapore more democratic - most of their high profile activities point to this. The perception may be wrong but the need to get it fixed soon as the election is coming. Getting into parliament can accelerate change and even if the primary goal is greater freedom and democracy, the immediate goal has to be to find candidates and win support at the ground.....you have to play their music first before you get to play yours.


From the SDP website:


"District Judge John Ng acquitted leaders of a Singapore Democrats who
were charged with taking part in a procession on 16 Sep 07. Judge Ng said that
the walk “did not cause inconvenience to the public, affect traffic flow or make
noise which disturbed the public peace.”

In this case the judge acquited the marchers based on the spirit of the law. It was a ridiculous law that has been selectively applied to drag opposition members into court. Many of us have taken part in marches that are company or school events without permit. Similarly, the public speaking laws don't seem to apply to salesmen promoting "miracle mops" but to opposition members promoting democracy.

You may think this is a victory for the SDP because they have challenged the system and won. There is another way to look at this - the verdict is actually great loss for the Singapore Democrats because it shatters their claim that our courts are unfair and "out to get them". They don't get to celebrate going to jail and making a video for youtube when they get out to show the world how "evil" the PAP is.

Imagine this .....if the PAP completely stops repressing the SDP, give them the full freedom to conduct talks and protests, the SDP will be a lot less convincing when they complain about the lack freedom and democracy in Singapore. They will have to win the support of the people with workable ideas. ...that will be a challenge the activists whose forte is fighting for democracy. The SDP has to reinvent itself fast because the PAP is starting to ease up on a number of restrictions. While it may be a long way before we get 'real' democracy, the steps taken by the PAP may have satisfied and convinced average Singaporeans that they are headed in the right direction at an acceptable pace.

36 comments:

Onlooker said...

But it could be too little too late.

The probability that this is a show for pre election cannot be dismissed but hopefully more SMC and GRC will be contested due to this acquittal.

Note if there is a 3 way again
== Facepalm.

Anonymous said...

Can SDP sue for wrongful arrest by the police?

After all, SDP was stopped from doing what they have been doing for quite a number of months.

Anonymous said...

Lucky Tan,
Beside the point that you are highlighting, the judge and the regime have already calculated well that even if they give fair ruling to one case to 'wayang' that they are fair, the SDP will not escape from other pending trials. In other words, if you are going to have 7 unfair trials against you, the kangaroo have nothing to lose to give a fair ruling in one case to demonstrate that they show impartiality, and whereby the rest of 6 trials will be unfair. In other words, give one small bait to catch big fish. Such is the genius of PAP.

Anonymous said...

Election coming soon. Must condition Singapore nan bit by bit till election day.

You know if you increase the water temperature bit by bit, the frog won't realise it until it is boiling and too late!

Anonymous said...

Or the judge may be demoted or out of job soon.

Anonymous said...

Looks like your warning is too late...

http://singaporedino.blogspot.com/2009/10/singapore-judge-defies-government-and.html

skeptic said...

I hope this ruling is the rule rather than the exception.

A sample size of one is not enough to convince me.

None the less, I am pleasantly surprised by a judge who doesn't act like a whore for the lee regime.

But still disappointed with the police as they are the biggest whores. Can only harass Chee but cannot catch Mas Selamat. Wong Kan Seng is the biggest moron on the planet!

Anonymous said...

lucky,

this is the first time that i can't grasp what u r trying to say.

are you for or against?

Cheers
Economists with a heart :)

LuckySingaporean said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LuckySingaporean said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LuckySingaporean said...

Economist,

I'm just saying that SDP spends a lot of its time fighting for democracy which is their No.1 passion. If the PAP actually gives it to them, they have to find something else to do.

Anonymous said...

Don’t be too happy first. It may just be a candy tossed out to sweeten the crowd for elections, as history has shown. The court can reverse its decision later.

http://yawningbread.wordpress.com/2009/10/06/judge-acquits-sdp-four-over-walking-case/

Anonymous said...

Wah lau.
Guilty you complain.
Acquit you also complain.
Piang.

Anonymous said...

We have wised up, that's why. Ever heard of the story of the boy who cried wolf? I think PAP has lost the trust of Singaporeans with their twisted words, blatant lies, and "wrong conclusions about correct data". See the devil for what he is.

Anonymous said...

hi lucky,

i have to disagree with u on this. i did take a look on sdp and what it stands for. sdp looks well balanced to me. sure they talked about democracy but they did talk about CPF inadequacies too. they do talk about things other than democracy.

anyway i dont think its within my lifetime to see pap give democracy to singaporeans within my life time.

Would a rich greedy pap give away the golden goose?

it is only through fear mongering that the singapore system has worked so well.

singaporeans are well educated but in general they are not interested in reading economic theories.

for example: the ministers raise in wages can easily be debunked by public choice theory.

as long as the economists and lawyers remain silent, singapore is doomed

Cheers
Economists

Anonymous said...

Skeptic 22.07,

A whore acts on instructions. If they act differently, maybe the instructions are different this time.

Anonymous said...

i don't like second guessing, so i wld have to give credit where credit is due.

Thank God for SDP to push the democratic movement, and the judge for ruling wisely.

that said, i still see no reason for changing to vote for the incumbent. there are just so many other unresolved issues - it will take more than one fair ruling to really help Singapore.

Anonymous said...

i don't like second guessing, so i wld have to give credit where credit is due.

Thank God for SDP to push the democratic movement, and the judge for ruling wisely.

that said, i still see no reason for changing to vote for the incumbent. there are just so many other unresolved issues - it will take more than one fair ruling to really help Singapore.

Anonymous said...

One swallow doesn't make a summer. Looks like erection is coming..

Anonymous said...

"Judge's decision: Nothing to be elated about, nothing to despair" (by CSJ)

http://yoursdp.org/index.php/perspective/vantage/2882-judges-decision-nothing-to-be-elated-about-nothing-to-despair

Anonymous said...

"...you have to play their music first before you get to play yours."

Sorry, but I will vote for a party only if they are sincere to play the citizen's music, not just play it to win our trust, and after that, play theirs.

That's manipulation to achieve their own agenda.

LuckySingaporean said...

anon 10:30,

I did not mean the SDP has to deceive the public. But they have to serve the public first show that they understand the people's concerns before they are allowed to go to parliament and make things better for Singapore.

If the PAP level the playing field and SDP still cannot win....I think they have to ask themselves plenty of questions..

kilroy said...

If the opposition is serious about getting elected, they should suppress their differences, sublimate their egos and get together a la Pakatan in Malaysia. It will not be easy but unless they do so, have a common manifesto ( this should not be too ambitious as I can't see how they are in a position to form the government in the next GE ), they will not be able to attract candidates of calibre who can enjoy voters confidence. Sincerity helps but is not enough.

LuckySingaporean said...

kilroy,

If they can carve out an alliance, it will be a win-win situation. But these small splintered groups lack an Anwar to help them over come their own egos and differences. Anwar did an amazing job.

Anonymous said...

If anwar can do it for pakatan, can lucky tan do it for the various political parties in singapore?

Who will step up to the plate?

Anonymous said...

Some time back, i commented on TOC that i didn't like Chee Soon Juan's methods and approach to politics - political martyrdom, and grandstanding politics. How he shouted at Goh Chok Tong and asked for a public debate, the hunger strike, protesting in front of Istana...

those protests just wont get you anywhere except photo/ news opportunities.

But I also said he articulates a lot better when he speaks to foreign press overseas, and giving talks overseas. Even his book has some salient points for us to think about.

yet, I was called a PAP lover, anti-CSJ, CSJ hater, PAP supporter, etc etc.

and i see a similar response to your post, Lucky.

i guess this is the thing with many Singapore netizens (as Straits Times calls us). its either you're with us, or against us.

Or am i being too harsh here?

-Aygee

Anonymous said...

Lucky, you said:

The SDP has associated itself with the fight for democracy which is good. However, to win elections, it has to exploit the bread and butter issues - there is no better time given the pathetic performance of the PAP in the past 4 years, I think they have really dropped the ball. While the SDP has addressed bread and butter issues, the perception is they are primarily concerned about making Singapore more democratic - most of their high profile activities point to this. The perception may be wrong but the need to get it fixed soon as the election is coming.

At this juncture, I don't think you can really make the clean cut split between so called "democracy" issues and "bread-and-butter" issue easily. The two are intertwined, even a matured democracy.

In the current Singapore context, you can really address the so-called "bread-and-butter" issue if you cannot even have the means to communicate your thoughts. Look at the Reform Party, they try to do the "bread-and-butter" but see now they get side track by headlines of their man being "Wanted" in the US.

As for wining elections, my view is that winning the next election is not the most pressing needs really. A more pragmatic political move would be NOT to win and let the PAP cock it up further. Being in Parliament, at this juncture, will be more a liabilities than a boon -- look at Chiam and Low. They seemed more constrained than useful.

Anonymous said...

Lucky,

If PAP were to give democracy,then politicians being politicians,would do what they do best.

I dont believe that SDP is exception.

So,I dont ask whether we have good,upright politicians,but ask whether we have a proper sysyetm to control all these naughty boys/gals.

Sadly we are not there yet

It ios indeed the worst form of government,I do believe that it is the only one that works in the long term

Anonymous said...

Lucky,

I hate to say this, I don't think SDP's hammering on democracy is at fault or not serving the needs of the electorate. I think the electorate themselves have to wake up and realize that they are the problem. Ok, you could say that people are concerned about "bread-and-butter" issue. But if you scratch the surface of this catch-all phrase "bread-and-butter", I can bet you there will be no consensus on what that mean amongst the electorate.

For example, to the elite class "bread-and-butter" to them means maintaining the status quo -- high growth, access to cheap labors (maids for person cases and labors for business owners), low taxes and as little regulation to constrained them as possible.

For the middle class it might mean "when will I'll get my next pay packet and why are are foreigners stealing my job".

For the poor, it will mean "when will I get my next meal".

To even be able to address you need to be able to communicate your policies but if you are hampered from doing so than it is no good.

Also if you have a population that after so many years of wanting to remain clueless and leave-it-all to other people to do the thinking for them, than no matter how good you policy platform is, they won't have a clue to tell one good policy from another.

I agree with you that if PAP were to grant SDP's wishes wots and all (but do you seriously think that is going to happen by next election), it might cut the SDP main selling point.

But assuming that the PAP did grant "democracy" tomorrow and say the SDP wise up a talk about "bread-and-butter" issue (whatever that maybe), do you think a largely clueless electorate really know what they want, if not, tell which policy is good one?

Ghost said...

I don't think this is a pre-election ruling. The PAP isn't worried about the SDP. I mean they are the weakest opposition party around at the moment, so this ruling will not affect the election one bit.

Kojakbt said...

Economists,

"anyway i dont think its within my lifetime to see pap give democracy to singaporeans within my life time."

It's not a matter of PAP giving us democracy. It's really up to us. Do we want to vote in more political parties into our parliament so as to have more pluralism? :)

"Would a rich greedy pap give away the golden goose?"

Well, if we tell them to get out of the parliament, they can't just keep on holding on to the golden goose, right? :)

"as long as the economists and lawyers remain silent, singapore is doomed"

Why depend only on economists and lawyers to open their mouths? Can't ordinary citizens like us open our mouths here and spread the words around? :)

Remember, we only need to convince 1/4 of the 66.6% to change their minds when they vote the next time...

Kojakbt said...

With regard to SDP or any other oppo parties for that matter, I only have 1 thing to say. Do what you can to win the hearts and minds of the electorate and you will win their trust in you.

Anonymous said...

no offense Mr kojakbt but i think u know thats not going to happen.

In theory, I will be a millionaire because I bought the TOTO for tomorrow but how likely is that?
Can I afford to buy 51% of all the permutations?

As it stands SDP (and WP,etc) dun stand a chance whatever they do.

The majority of any population have never been able to think and its ALWAYS the role\responsiblity of those who CAN to step up to the plate.

Ideally the likes of Mr Lucky, but he is not going to do it and we have to respect his decision.

Jezebella said...

I hope nobody will be fooled by this. One can be sure things will go back to usual business once they win the elections again.

Kojakbt said...

"The majority of any population have never been able to think and its ALWAYS the role\responsiblity of those who CAN to step up to the plate."

Let's have some faith in our Singaporeans :)

So far, from the last election results, 33.3% voted for change while 66.6% voted for status quo. You just need another swing of 1/4 of the 66.6% to do the job :)

In Japan, the electorate also knew that oppo DJP can't perform miracles for Japan but still, they voted for a change to send a clear signal to the ruling LDP and to the country that they wanted changes to policies. They were fed up with the way LDP had run Japan for decades...

Vote for changes!

Mark said...

Good luck SDP, you have my support because of your bravery & dedication!