SINGAPORE: Following the release of the highly anticipated Forward Singapore report by the government, Dr Chee Soon Juan, the Secretary-General of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), voiced sharp criticism, suggesting the People’s Action Party (PAP) is attempting to distract from its shortcomings by redefining the Singaporean Dream.
The report, presented by Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong on Friday, outlines a vision for a more inclusive society, moving beyond materialistic benchmarks like the once-aspired Five ‘C’s — condo, car, cash, credit card, country club. Instead, it emphasizes collective achievements, diverse aspirations, and a sense of unity in success.
However, Dr Chee Soon Juan expressed skepticism about the sincerity behind this shift in a candid Facebook post on Saturday.
“Let’s be clear, there’s no 5Cs – it died a long time ago,” he wrote. Dr Chee accused the ruling party of failing to deliver its promises and now engaging in “the art of distraction” as various economic challenges, including growing unemployment and the increasing cost of living, weigh heavily on citizens’ minds.
The SDP leader questioned the PAP’s commitment to its new, people-centric rhetoric, pointing to the stark contrast between the wealthy lifestyles of certain high-ranking officials and the living conditions of average Singaporeans.
“Before we switch pronouns, he should first explain why he and his cabinet colleagues say “I, me mine” when it comes to their million-dollar salaries and “us, we and ours” when it comes to the people having to live with biting inflation.” wrote Dr Chee.
He specifically challenged the forthcoming GST hike to 9% and questioned the housing disparities, addressing specifically to Ministers K Shanmugam and Vivian Balakrishnan, who rent gigantic government bungalows when ordinary citizens are made to live in tiny HDB flats.
Dr Chee was particularly critical of DPM Wong’s assertion that the Forward Singapore initiative is not a “top-down government agenda.”
He highlighted restrictions on freedom of speech, the use of defamation suits, and the POFMA directives against critics, as well as election laws that he believes undermine the opposition. “So, what does he call his party dictating to Singaporeans what, where, and when we can speak?” Dr Chee asked rhetorically.
Referencing the government’s stance on public discourse, he also mentioned an incident where an individual was investigated for displaying a peaceful political message. He argued that such actions diminish the sense of meaningful citizenship.
“For Singaporeans to truly live fulfilled lives, we need to be empowered in our own country and to be able to exercise the full franchise of our citizenship,” he asserted.
Dr Chee emphasized that beyond just words, there must be a genuine shift towards recognizing Singapore as a home, not a transient hotel, for its citizens. He also noted that for citizens to experience a meaningful existence in this country, they should not have to whisper when they criticise their rulers.
However, as Dr Chee’s comments demonstrate, there appears to be significant public demand for these policies to be grounded in the real experiences and challenges of everyday Singaporeans, ensuring that the future roadmap considers the well-being and empowerment of all citizens, not just material benchmarks or high-level rhetoric.
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