Workers’ Party (WP) member Yee Jenn Jong has echoed veteran politician Dr Tan Cheng Bock’s sentiment that fear is the politics of the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP), a day after a recent speech by Dr Tan making the same assertion went viral online.
Yesterday (29 May), a recording of a speech Dr Tan recently made went viral on messaging platforms like WhatsApp. Some have speculated that the nearly two minute-long audio clip was recorded at Dr Tan’s recent meet-the-people session on 9 May.
In the audio clip, Dr Tan can be heard saying: “PAP is the politics of fear and reward.” He added: “For me, I said we must evolve a trusted political system based on transparency, accountability and independence.”
In a Facebook post published this morning (30 May), former Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) Yee Jenn Jong stated that “fear is the politics that the ruling party had been playing for so long.”
Yee first stepped into the political world in 2011 contesting in the Joo Chiat Single Member Constituency (SMC) against PAP heavyweight Charles Chong. Although he lost marginally with 48.99% of the votes, he finished as the second best loser in an election and became an NCMP thereafter, from 2011 to 2015.
He contested the Marine Parade Group Representation Constituency (GRC) in the 2015 General Election and lost. Mr Yee remains an active WP member.
In the post, Mr Yee recounted the reasoning behind his entry into opposition politics as he shared a conversation he had with an elderly resident during a community outreach event at Marine Terrace yesterday.
Despite expressing his appreciation for the efforts the WP has put in to aid the needy, the resident expressed concerns over the future of Singapore if the opposition takes over the ward or ends up forming the next Government. Mr Yee added that the resident “acknowledged the good work done by the first generation of PAP, even the second generation, and was afraid of change. He felt something should be done but was not sure what it should be.”
Revealing that he has often heard this concern ever since he joined the WP over eight years ago, Mr Yee said that he shared these same concerns before he entered politics himself.
He recounted that although he “believed Singapore had progressed reasonably well up till the 2000s,” he became “increasingly uncomfortable with some of our policies, notably in education, healthcare, public housing and labour, amongst others prior to 2011.”
Mr Yee decided to enter politics on the alternative side prior to the 2011 General Election since he sensed that change would not occur unless there was a credible alternative and since he wanted to see quality candidates on both sides, as a voter himself.
The politician added that he felt that “competition is the way to force the incumbent to be responsive and innovative, and the alternative had to be credible.” Mr Yee noted that this view, however, is at odds with the ruling party’s oft-repeated sentiment that it “needs a super strong majority or even absolute rule (we just heard it again from ESM Goh).”
Mr Yee added: “The playing field has been made deliberately unfair and even good people have been deterred from taking the alternative side because of fear.”
Noting that there was a “risk averse spirit and a reluctance to change because Singapore had been doing well so far” among the policymakers he had spoken to and worked with prior to 2011, Mr Yee asked: “What was the alternative for Singapore if the ruling party one day becomes corrupt or incompetent? It is hard to build an alternative overnight, more so in Singapore when high barriers are put up to stop the alternative movement.”
Returning to his conversation with the elderly resident, Mr Yee said that he believes the only way to make Singapore’s democratic process meaningful is to “build stronger alternatives.”
Addressing the fear of change many Singaporeans may have about voting for the opposition, Mr Yee asserted: “And we need not impose such fear on ourselves, because fear is the politics that the ruling party had been playing for so long. We fear what will happen if there is change.
“We have been told rubbish will be piled three-storey high if the opposition takes over a constituency and it will turn into a slum. That had not happened.”
Noting that he encountered this fear of change during his campaign rounds in 2011, Mr Yee recounted that he promised residents that he would see to it that public areas are run well by the various agencies. He said: “…people fear for lack of knowledge or from stereotypes painted. The government agencies are obligated to make things right regardless of which party the MP is from.”
The opposition politician added that Singapore needs to regain its boldness in today’s rapidly changing world. He said: “When Singapore had not much in the past, we were bold, innovative and willing to take on challenges. The world is rapidly changing. We need to find that boldness and can-do spirit again.”
Read his post in full here:
Last evening during cookies distribution at Marine Terrace, we came across an elderly gentleman who appreciated what we…