SDP rally: 'We've shown you an alternative vision'

PHOTO: The Straits Times

After nine days of hustings, a defiant Chee Soon Juan wrapped up the Singapore Democratic Party's (SDP) campaign by calling for change in Singapore.

A compromised quality of life and rising cost of living, among other issues, came not by coincidence but as a result of the People's Action Party's (PAP) policies, he said.

"You can do something about the situation, you have a way out. And that way is the SDP," added the 53-year-old.

"In the last nine days, we've not just told you what is wrong with the PAP's policies, but we've also presented to you an alternative vision... where people have a say in a democratic society, where the government serves rather than sues, debates rather than detains and raises you rather than dumbs down the people!" he added.

Responding to the PAP's criticisms that his alternative policies, such as halving Singapore's defence budget to fund a national healthcare plan, he said SDP's policies were not etched in stone.

"We are only too aware that they are by no means perfect," he said.

'Not resistant'

"We are not resistant to amending our own proposal and working with the PAP in Parliament to draw up a more balanced budget so we can continue to have a strong national defence while, at the same time, have the government show more responsibility in our nation's healthcare expenses."

As for those who, like SDP, believe that Singapore can move towards a less suffocating system, he assured them that they are on the cusp of change.

"For the soul of this nation is stirring and we (the people) must be the ones to awaken it," he said.

"Our Parliament needs an opposition with the intellectual capability to stand toe to toe with the PAP, ask the tough questions that need to be asked, debate with ministers on issues that need to be debated and hold them accountable."

Dr Chee then took on a more personal tone, inviting his wife and children on stage.

The father of three said he had never given them much, be it birthday presents for his children or surprise gifts for his wife.

Sometimes, his kids even joke about him only giving hugs and kisses, he said.

"I know all of them understand what I have to do, that even though I can't afford much in life, I give them something much more valuable - my devotion," he said.

As he confronted the labels that had been attached to him, Dr Chee took on a combative tone.

"You can call me all sorts of names: liar, cheat, gangster, failure, psychopath.

"You can jail me. You can sue me. You can make me a bankrupt. You can take all my possessions away.

"But no matter how hard you pound, I will take it. No matter how viciously you attack, I will tahan (Malay for endure). No matter how nasty you play, I will not bow down.

"You can only destroy me if I allow you to. And I don't allow you to.

"You've taken everything away from me but there's one thing you will never be able to take away, and that is my pride.

"You cannot take it because I don't give it to you.

"And as long as I have my pride, I will always stand up to do what I need to do, and that is to speak truth to power.

This article was first published on September 10, 2015.
Get The New Paper for more stories.