GE2020: “We cannot remain a sampan” RDU’s e-rally highlights

“If we’re still a sampan after 61 years under the PAP, we have a real problem.” In their e-rally speech, Red Dot United urged Singaporeans to become “ocean liners”, discard outdated and paternalistic policies, and move with the times.

Posted by AsiaOne on Sunday, 5 July 2020

3 highlights from RDU's first GE2020 e-rally, featuring Jurong GRC candidates

In their first-ever online rally, the Red Dot United (RDU) political party took the opportunity to share their message and what they stood for.

They spoke about high-profile topics such as former PM Goh Chok Tong's comparison of Singapore to a sampan, and Pink Dot, the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) movement.

The panel consisted of the Jurong GRC candidates Ravi Philemon, Michelle Lee, Liyana Dhamirah, Alec Tok and Nicholas Tang.

Too busy to watch? We've got you covered. Here's what you missed from their rally:

Sampan analogy for Singapore is "disturbing"

In her speech, RDU's chairman Michelle Lee took aim at PM Lee Hsien Loong and Goh for their comparison of Singapore to a sampan.

Referencing Goh's recent Facebook post about the NCMP scheme, Lee said she found the sampan comments to be "very disturbing".

I think if you put a craft like that out on the stormy sea, you will be in a lot of trouble. If we are still a sampan after 61 years under the PAP (People's Action Party), we have a real problem. And this is a situation Singapore is in today. We have an old, outdated plan. We keep plastering on quick fixes which we think will help but actually further destabilise the craft. And what do you think will happen in the end?

Lee also pointed out PM Lee's disagreement with the view that Singapore is a cruise ship and said that's reflective of what "he thinks of Singaporeans".

She added: "Red Dot United says 'Wake up, Singapore'! When the world moves towards powerful, zero-carbon ocean liners, we cannot remain a sampan, much less an unstable one with all kinds of contraptions plastered all over it. While a sampan needs just one man to operate it, ocean liners need all hands on deck to take it in a new direction."


RDU candidate Tang called out PAP on "making decisions on behalf of Singaporeans" without knowing every individual's circumstances. This, he stated, gave rise to "five decades of paternalistic policies" where PAP decides "how to spend your money", "how you should live" and "what is best for you".

Using the ban of personal mobility devices (PMDs) on footpaths as an example, Tang asserted that the government "opted for the simplest solution".

An analogy to this would be two children fighting over a toy. A parent, or teacher, might confiscate the toy and the problem would be solved. But it does not address the root issue at hand. The children still have no idea how to share and the problem would persist. They would not have grown or benefited from this.

Though the PMD ban stopped accidents from happening, the government hasn't addressed the root issue and Singaporeans "are still unable to amicably share public spaces" and "society cannot grow", Tang argued.

Encourage movements like Pink Dot and Singapore Climate Rally

Tang confirmed that one of RDU's goals is to foster an active citizenry and encourage and nurture political discourse in society. "Only through conversation can we reconcile our differences and come together as a people," he said, adding that "discussing policies and ideas should not be taboo".

One only needs to look at other nations to see what will happen when conversation breaks down, Tang warned, pointing out the riots in the US and Hong Kong.

It is difficult to imagine Singaporeans protesting on such a scale, let alone rioting. But if we continue to silence people, they will find other ways to be heard. Violence and riots are the voice of the unheard. Movements like Pink Dot and the [Singapore] Climate Rally must not only be allowed to carry on, they must be encouraged.

Tang added: "Instead of silencing them, the government should engage them in discourse. This is why I believe that participation in civil discourse is the duty of every Singaporean."