Blogger Roy Ngerng’s crowdfunding efforts to help pay for his legal battle with the PM got many ordinary Singaporeans contributing to the cause.
And the amount collected came to more than $81,000 in four days- $10,000 more than what he had asked for.
The highest amount given was $2,000 and the lowest $0.01. Most of them contributed small sums. Altogether more than 1,200 people chipped in.
We spoke to five of them and their bottled-up grievances were evident.
Take the case of this 55-year-old fashion designer, who did not want her name revealed. She wants to go on a religious pilgrimage to Mecca with her CPF savings but is worried she might not be able to achieve it.
She said: “I am 100 per cent worried that what I can draw out from my CPF savings at my age will not be enough to go for my pilgrimage.
“I want the whole lump sum back. I have my own plans. Don’t treat us like children. I can manage my own money. I feel that the CPF savings should be allowed to be drawn out with fewer restrictions.”
She gave Ngerng $100.
Another donor who only want to be known as Wong, 41, does not live here and has no intention of returning to Singapore.
“I detest oppression. When I was a young boy in Singapore, I felt my speech had been silenced. That was during the 80s and I was only a teenager.
“People kept telling me to shut up and not to bad-mouth the PAP. And I did not appreciate the chewing gum ban,” said Wong who works in the Asian region now.
“I see Roy as a common Singaporean. He is speaking on behalf of all of us. By suing Roy, the Prime Minister is telling all of us to shut up. In the 80s, I had to shut up, this time we do not have to.”
Wong gave $1,000.
However, some donors said they do not agree with all of Ngerng’s arguments. Yet, they will support him – partly out of admiration for Ngerng’s courage to speak up, partly out of scepticism of the ruling government.
Wong said: “I do not think it was unnecessary to link Lee Hsien Loong with the City Harvest scandal. But since Roy has done it, we will support him anyway. Like I said, I admire his courage for writing that article and speaking up for all of us.”
Jay Lee, who wanted his age and occupation not used in this article, added: “Perhaps the statistics provided by Ngerng may not be entirely accurate. But then, only the government has all the detailed information. If public have no access to such information, then they will try to work out the closest they can get from all the sources which might turn out to be inaccurate.”
Lee sent $100 to Ngerng.
Other donors said their own hardship in life got them rooting for Ngerng.
Ryan, 33 and who didn’t want his full name used, is a system operator. He said: “I believe in Roy Ngerng’s cause. My whole family works so hard. Even my elderly parents have to work every day.
“I think CPF should be made more accessible for genuine reasons. The government should appoint counsellors to evaluate and provide genuine help through CPF for every individual.”
Ryan made a small contribution of $50.
The people we spoke have reached a single conclusion: Lee Hsien Loong should not have reacted so harshly towards the political blogger. Many of the donors pointed out that Ngerng had already apologised to Lee.
Augustine Lee, 41, who is a real estate agent said: “I give you an example. You did not submit your homework in time, and your teacher caned you. I think that is not equitable punishment. You should have just been made to stand for 15 minutes outside the classroom.”
Augustine chipped in with $100.
Jay Lee added: “What the Prime Minister could have done was to ask Ngerng to make a second written note, declaring he would not make such baseless allegations again.
“That will buy the Prime Minister a lot of goodwill. Public opinion would be on Lee Hsien Loong’s side if he had decided against going to court in the first instance. But when he decided to do so, he lost it all.”