Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, who’s obviously a veteran in political tactics, has created a distraction by questioning Workers Party if it has been “honest and upfront” over its reply on Hougang candidate Png Eng Huat’s previous candidacy for the NCMP post. And following the Piper’s tune, the mainstream media played up on this issue with the Straits Times carrying a screaming headline on its front page today (23 May) “WP faces allegations of dishonesty”. ST also dutifully devoted two whole pages (front and inside pages) to attacking Png and WP’s “honesty” while less than one page was given to the WP’s rally which delivered several newsworthy speeches last night. And ST, by not publishing a single photo showing the large and passionate crowd braving the rain at the rally last night, showed its political bias yet again . Isn’t this type of news manipulation hiding the truth of the situation from its readers? Talk about honesty indeed.
In watching this “wayang”, the saying “those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones” at others comes to mind. One can also question just how honest and upfront the PAP-led Government has been with the entire nation of citizens over the years. For example, were they honest when minister after minister declared recently that the “majority of Singaporeans” and “average Singaporeans” will not be directly affected by the rising cost of living? And they even said this in Parliament!
Honesty? Upfront? There’s plenty to drag out if we want the Government to account to the citizens for how things are run such as why are they using the People’s Association network and resources (paid for by public funds) to support the PAP? Why was Hougang deprived of the national upgrading time and again? What’s happening with our CPF? How are the HDB flats really priced and why are they so expensive? What are their real reasons for introducing the GRC system and redrawing the electorate boundaries at every election? Can the Government honestly answer these questions and more in detail?
Accountability and honesty are essential factors when evaluating the type of political candidates we want. And this same criteria should also apply to the government in power.
On the NCMP question raised over Png. Why is it even an issue? Png has stated that he has never wanted to be one in the first place as he does not believe in the NCMP scheme which was concocted by the PAP as a means of circumventing true democracy. As to the PAP attacking Png’s choice of words when he explained the situation to the media, frankly it just shows his lack of media savvy and political craftiness rather than dishonesty. Unlike wily old war horses like DPM Teo, Png appears inexperienced in handling a barrage of tricky media questions and situations. And this is an area that all opposition parties can brush up on.
At the end of the day, things should be put in perspective, what does Png not being an NCMP have to do with this by-election? The short answer is “nothing” as he didn’t commit any wrongdoings. He should be evaluated based on his qualities and what he and his party can offer to Hougang and Singapore and not about some non-issue.
I am hopeful that the resilient Hougang residents will not be distracted by this NCMP side-show. Hougang residents have shown themselves to be a breed apart from many other Singaporeans over the years as they have braved many hardships in their fight to stand up for democracy.
To many people, Hougang stands as a beacon of hope for Singapore. The fighting spirit and passion of the Hougang residents put many Singaporeans to shame. While many of us have been cowering behind our fear over the decades, they dared to question and to do the right thing. No amount of threats or bullying dampened their fire and spirit.
Hougang residents have much to be proud of as they truly embody the spirit of patriotism, of being willing to make sacrifices for their belief in democracy and for the greater good of the nation. From the young to the elderly who had to walk up stairs in blocks without lift upgrading, the Hougang residents truly inspire. Their actions make many of us reflect on ourselves and question why are they doing this and what we want for our nation.
Do we want an apathetic type of Singaporean who is blind to justice and who only cares about his safety and material comforts? Or do we want to build a people who value the more important principles in life such as courage, passion and righteousness? And just what kind of government do we want for our country? One that is arrogant and focused on the economy and not the people? Or do we want a government that is ethical and which genuinely cares about the well-being of its people?
The PAP government as it stands now has failed to set a good example to the people and it has failed in really listening to the people’s hopes, dreams and desires in the building of an inclusive society. Will they change? Can they change? I certainly hope so somehow as they will remain the dominant political party for a long while. If they don’t change, I dread to think what kind of society we will be become – materialistic, gutless, selfish and self-serving? I hope not.
Meantime, I am heartened to see the Hougang spirit burning strong and I hope it will burn even brighter in the years ahead. The people there serve as a reminder to all of us that in this materialistic world, there are some crucial things that money should never buy and fear should never strangle – and that is having the courage and passion to fight for our beliefs and the right values.
I am hopeful that come this Saturday when the Hougang residents vote for their Member of Parliament, their spirit will prevail and that they will vote for the right candidate and party that will best aid the growth of a healthy and happy nation.
“Our country is not the only thing to which we owe our allegiance. It is also owed to justice and to humanity. Patriotism consists not in waving the flag, but in striving that our country shall be righteous as well as strong.” ~James Bryce