Wednesday, March 31, 2010

SDP Economic Forum 28 Mar 10-- Downright Disappointing

By Lee Wai Leong

SDP held its Economic Forum last Sunday at the former Allson Hotel.

I went with high hopes but left disappointed.

Their so-called proposals are flimsy and clearly not well-thought out, and they spent half the time taking digs at the PAP instead of elaborating on their proposals. Although the forum was meant to showcase SDP's alternative economics proposals, it degenerated to the usual criticisms of minister's salaries, calls for accountability for Temasek and GIC losses, lack of transparency in GIC and Temasek, barbs against the Lee family, etc.-- accompanied by the expected smirking and cheers from their regular attendees.


Notwithstanding the above, what they presented would be demolished by any Economics 101 student. Shows they just don't have the requisite economics expertise within the party.


Examples of the proposals:

Reduce URA/JTC rentals and lower the selling prices of HDB flats.

Minimum Wage

Scale back GLC's and MNC's

Provide more support to SME's

Allow workers to form independent trade unions

And the best one:

Pay 18 months of benefits on a sliding scale to ALL retrenched workers, although it was not clear who would foot the bill-- taxpayers or companies.

Why these proposals are not well-thought out
Simple logic tells us one cannot change one part of a system without upsetting the rest of it. So if the govt reduces URA/JTC rentals and HDB prices, what could possibly happen?

For rentals, either the tenants pocket the savings (ie they charge the sub-tenants the current rates and pocket the difference) or they pass it through. If the former, it won't really benefit the economy at large. If the latter, the rental market could collapse as businesses flock to cheap URA/JTC properties and desert commercial space. The rental index will crash overnight. Private landlords could then be driven into negative equity and foreclosures if they can't come up with cash flow.

Ditto lowering HDB prices. Either it creates a mad rush for new HDB flats (and for the chance to make a killing) or it depresses the prices of resale flats and likely drive resale flat owners into negative equity and foreclosures by banks.

The collapse in HDB prices will then spread to private property as buyers avoid condos and go for HDB.

Private property owners will then be sitting on negative equity and they will not be able to sell out. Market activity will be paralysed. Foreclosures may well follow and property prices will crash, hurting everyone.

Anyone who has done central banking would certainly understand the importance of price stability. One simply cannot administer price shocks to a system in equilibrium without causing massive repercussions. That's why every central bank in the world has as its mission to ensure price stability and economic growth with minimal inflation.

Did SDP ever think of that?

Like it or not, we are all stuck. Stuck with our mortgage, stuck with our valuations, stuck with our repayments.

If a market crash happens and people lose their homes thru foreclosures and others sink into negative equity due to lowered valuations, they have no choice but to accept it. But if the govt causes a spectacular property devaluation by selling new HDB flats at bargain basement prices, that govt is not going to last too long in power.

Much as we want, we can't wind back the clock and sell flats at 1980's prices any more.

Ditto reducing reliance on MNC's, scaling back GLC's, dismantling Temasek and nurturing SME's by taking away tax incentives from MNC's and using it to help SME's.

These are very laudable goals but they have massive repercussions and will cause much unemployment, significant adjustments and extensive structural changes before the goal can be achieved.

I estimate it'll take more than two terms of govt to even achieve half of these goals-- and that's assuming the disgruntled property owners and workers who are displaced as part of these sweeping changes do not vote the govt out before the grand plan can be carried out.

Did SDP think of that?

Minimum wage seems very popular among "opposition" parties these days, although I don't see how it can solve our problems (which is either (i) that Singaporean's wages, in real terms, are slipping or (ii) productivity in Singapore is decreasing).

For (i), the minimum wage applies only to the bottom rung of workers, so it really doesn't help the executives or managers. It won't arrest our continued slide in real wages, when compared to other countries.

For (ii), it's true that minimum wage may force bosses to find ways to increase efficiency and productivity. However, SDP presented stats to show Singaporeans work the longest hours among 12 countries surveyed by ILO. So the logical conclusion is that minimum wage will likely cause bosses to get staff to work longer hours or increase their job scope.

In other words, we could be back to square 1.

Did SDP think of that?

I don't think SDP or other parties really understand the rationale behind minimum wage. They were implemented by advanced countries not to tackle productivity problems, but because of workers' rights.

They came about because unions wanted to make sure their workers got a good deal.

Thus minimum wage is always implemented with limits on the no of working hours per week.

Without proposing such limits here, implementing minimum wage is useless.

But most importantly, don't be misled-- MW is to improve workers' welfare, it's not a productivity tool first and foremost.

Last-- some observations on the SDP leadership.

After 20 years, Dr Chee is still charismatic as ever, still as eloquent, still as much fire in the belly.

The same cannot be said of his team.

Mohd Jufrie looks so tired, as does Gandhari.

John Tan looks so mild-mannered.

Sylvester Lim looks so out of his depth. No wonder, the guy is not even 30.

But what is truly amazing about this party is their fighting spirit. Despite the crippling lawsuits, they have not given up.

That's the most important takeaway from this afternoon.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Mrs Chiam: Chee Soon Juan ousted Chiam See Tong from SDP

This article appeared first on Lianhe Zaobao on Sunday (28 March 2010) and then got translated into English on Straits Times on Monday (29 March 2010). The article titled "Chiam's SDP exit: Wife speaks up" is the first time Mrs Chiam is speaking on the issue and is revealing on the integrity of Chee Soon Juan. The integrity that of a liar and an opportunist.

A LONG-STANDING spat between Potong Pasir MP Chiam See Tong and former protege Chee Soon Juan has resurfaced, with Mr Chiam's wife and Dr Chee engaged in a fresh exchange of views.

The row centres on Dr Chee's role in Mr Chiam's dismissal as secretary-general of the opposition Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) in 1993 and his eventual exit from the party in 1996.

In an interview with the Chinese-language daily Lianhe Zaobao published yesterday, Mrs Lina Chiam dismissed comments that Dr Chee made in an earlier interview with the same newspaper that he had tried to persuade Mr Chiam to stay on.

She instead accused Dr Chee, who succeeded Mr Chiam as SDP chief, of ousting her husband from the party he founded in 1980.

Mrs Chiam - who told the newspaper she was speaking with her husband's knowledge and authority - said that despite the SDP central executive committee's initial attempts in 1993 to make Mr Chiam stay, it held a disciplinary hearing in August that year, where it decided to expel him.

She said: "If he (Dr Chee) really wanted to keep Mr Chiam, he could have politely declined the position of secretary-general. Or when the central executive was taking a vote on whether to take disciplinary action against Chiam, he could have opposed the dismissal."

She noted that Dr Chee wrote to the Speaker of Parliament to tell him of Mr Chiam's ouster, and asked for any further necessary action to be taken.

The Constitution says that an MP who loses membership of the party he represented in a general election automatically loses his seat in Parliament.

Mr Chiam was elected as Potong Pasir MP in 1984 on the SDP ticket. He contested his expulsion from the SDP in court and left the party only in 1996 for the Singapore's People Party.

Mrs Chiam said: "The People's Action Party tried all means to defeat my husband, but failed after several general elections. But the SDP achieved it effortlessly with one stroke of the pen and did the PAP a great service."

Mr Chiam asked her to clarify the matter with Lianhe Zaobao after it interviewed Dr Chee, she said, adding that she wanted to set the record straight: "For the sake of my husband and to let the younger generation understand 'Uncle Chiam', I have to step forward to clarify matters. He did not turn his back on the SDP. When we were forced to leave, our hearts were filled with anguish."

Dr Chee told Lianhe Zaobao in his interview that he tried to persuade Mr Chiam - who had differences with the central executive in May 1993 - not to resign. He said he went to Mr Chiam's office several times to withdraw his resignation, "and told him he was still regarded as our leader".

Yesterday, Dr Chee reiterated that neither he, nor anyone else, forced Mr Chiam out. He told Shin Min Daily News that the SDP spent one month persuading Mr Chiam to change his mind: "But Chiam insisted that he would return to the SDP as its secretary-general only if the SDP central executive committee gave him the maximum power to appoint or remove any central executive or party member."

He also told the Chinese-language daily he did not want to take the issue further.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

SDP exploiting underage teens

If Chee Soon Juan were to be believed, the Young Democrats is indeed seeing some new faces, faces that are perhaps too young.

The legal age to be a member of any political parties in Singapore is 21. These chaps (see photo below) are aged 15-16, and still studying secondary school. Uniformed students should not be involved with politics. But yet, as shown in the photo, they participated in the Singapore Democratic Party 30th Anniversary dinner. These chaps are Kenneth Lin, Sebastian Puay and Darren Choy.

The most prominent underage YD sympathiser is Kenneth Lin (16 years old). Studying in St Andrew's Secondary School, this secondary 4 student has been SDP's latest new toy (after Alex Tan) in the social media front. Recently, he created a Facebook group to get Singaporeans to sign a petition demanding Lee Kuan Yew to apologise. A brief glance on the list of petitioners showed that a huge majority of them are fake.

A new face is Sebastian Puay Tong Kehl. Born in 1993, he is still currently studying in Maris Stella High School.

Last but not least, Darren Choy, also a student of the Maris Stella High School.

Singapore Democratic Party's dirty tactics of using teens as proxies should not be condoned.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Fighting, by Urging Others to Fight Back....

Bryan Ti

Rather chivalrously, SDP states that it will fight for the Bt Panjang residents.

It then reminds us that the residents have some form of economic power that they must exercise to fight back.

Besides all the talk and sending out letters, one wonders whether SDP's way of fighting for the residents is simply to urge them to fight back (while it sniggers from the side-lines).

Otherwise, SDP could also be planning to carry out yet another round of petition signing, which incidentally got nowhere the last time round. Of course, I am sure it will also NOT fail to seize the opportunity to sell more of its newsletters as a form of side-income.

Incidentally, perhaps this fight it now threatens (and is hopefully legal) will also be considered part of the series of activities to joyfully celebrate its 30th Anniversary. This is in addition to the gala dinner and coming public forum it is organising.

(By the way, I am also wonder whether the letter sent to Mr Teo Ho Pin really had a photo of a rather jovial looking John Tan on it. If so, I am sure Mr Teo would be fuming at the deliberate snigger on John's face that he seems rather adept at making.)

Friday, March 26, 2010

I saw Chee Soon Juan


I saw the Singapore Democratic Party leader Chee Soon Juan selling his party newspaper at a hawker centre.

I was having coffee when two men and a woman appeared, all in red polo shirts, carrying armloads of newspapers. The slender, youthful-looking bespectacled man in the centre was Dr Chee. He did not give out his name. I could recognize him from the photos I had seen in newspapers and on the internet.

He did not make any speeches or criticize the government, merely saying he knew people had problems with wages being cut and held up a copy of his newspaper, asking if anyone would like to buy.

He was studiously ignored by the people, who went on eating and drinking, though several fell silent while others lowered their voices.

An elderly couple passing by stopped and the old man bought a newspaper from him. "Thank you," he said.

The woman with him approached me with a copy of the newspaper. "No, thanks," I said and got up, having finished my coffee.

A little later, as I was passing by the hawker centre, he was gone.

The people went on eating and drinking under burning lights amid the surrounding darkness.

I enjoyed walking in the dark past the silvery haloes of light of street lamps.

The night air was soothing in its tranquillity.

I love Singapore, the peace and quiet it offers if that is what we want.

I know. Like the trees spreading their branches but solidly rooted to the earth, I can't be budged from my comfort zone.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Chee Soon Juan: "I occasionally receive foreign funding"

The following is extracted from Lianhe Zaobao. Its reporter conducted an interview with Singapore Democratic Party Secretary-General Chee Soon Juan. In the interview, Chee mentioned that he occasionally receives foreign funding.

Chee Soon Juan: This is the peak of Singapore Democratic Party's peak in 30 years

游润恬 (2010-02-28) Reported by: Ms Yew Lun Tian

Referring to the claim that Temasek Review is being operated by the Singapore Democratic Party, with the aim of discrediting the other opposition parties to strengthen SDP, Chee Soon Juan denied it. Chee: "We do not criticise the affairs of other opposition parties."

Singapore Democratic Party is 30 years old. When's the peak? When's the trough?

Dr Chee Soon Juan's (48 years old) answer was surprising. He said the SDP is at its peak now.

"I believe Singapore Democratic Party has not reached its actual peak, but as of now, we are at our highest point."

Chee says that SDP has attracted many new members over the past 5 years. The quality of the members is higher than before. The newcomers not only provide new political perspectives, they are also savvy with new media, empowering the party in ways it has never done before.

No resources to organise anniversary dinners 5 years ago

For instance, 5 years ago, Chee Soon Juan wanted to organise a 25th anniversary dinner. However, due to scarce resources, he called off the idea. Today, SDP not only organised its dinner at a hotel in Orchard Road, it also published its first 80-page full colour commemorative magazine.

Chee believes that of upmost importance is the unity among the Central Executive Committee Members.

"For them, fighting in unity precedes personal ambitions."

In the 1991 General Election, then Singapore Democratic Party's Secretary-General Chiam See Tong (Potong Pasir SMC), Chairman Ling How Doong (Bukit Gombak SMC) and Cheo Chai Chen (Nee Soon Central SMC) won their seats in Parliament. Since Chiam's departure from the party in 1996, there had been no representatives from SDP in the parliament. As such, SDP under Chiam See Tong should be considered as the peak period of the party. However, Chee Soon Juan thinks that was the lowest point instead.

"A few weeks after I joined the SDP, I could already feel the strong tension in the ties between the party leaders. The SDP back then wasn't a party. It was never led by a team with a common ideology. It was just a group of individuals with different beliefs. When incidents occur, everyone has their own views and wants to pursue their own paths, resulting in disunity."

Chiam See Tong single-handedly brought then NUS Psychology Lecturer Chee Soon Juan into the party in 1992 and fielded him in the Marine Parade GRC by-election. Then PM Goh Chok Tong wanted to Teo Chee Hean to be in Parliament and arranged for Marine Parade GRC MPs to resign so that a by-election could be held.

Chee Soon Juan lost in the election. The following year, he got fired by NUS after he was found to be overstating his taxi claims. Chiam See Tong initially supported him, but subsequently passed a motion to the CEC to punish him. Other CEC members didn't agree with Chiam's actions, leading to a stalemate within the party. Chiam then resigned as Secretary-General.

Chee Soon Juan continued: "The meeting when Chiam tendered his resignation, was held at my place. The following month, I repeatedly went to Chiam's office to request him to keep his resignation letter, and expressed my loyalty to him."

Despite Chee Soon Juan's explanation, the fact is that SDP CEC went on to vote to expel Chiam See Tong from the party. If Chiam were expelled, he would lose his parliamentary seat and the opposition would lose a voice in parliament. Singapore's Constitution prohibits MPs from switching party membership. Chiam See Tong fought hard to retain his party membership. In 1997, Chiam left the party and set up the Singapore People Party where he became the Secretary-General and retained his Potong Pasir seat.

Chiam See Tong procliamed that he was ousted by Chee Soon Juan.

Chee Soon Juan claims that Chiam got ousted because of his dictatorship style.

"Even in the eyes of Ling How Doong and other members, Chiam See Tong's leadership was undeniable. However, we hoped he could be more democratic in the way he carried out the tasks."

Chee: "Until today, I don't bear any grudges against Chiam See Tong. I even attended his 25th Anniversary Dinner. Even when I meet him in the streets, I would greet him."

Chiam introduced Chee Soon Juan into the party in 1992. Chee was seen as the hope of the Opposition and a rising star in the political realm. Until today, Chiam is still in parliament, but Chee had never made it in.

When asked if he has ever regretted joining politics, Chee said: "Never. I'm not saying this because I want to be a hero. I really love teaching and research work. Those were my first love. However, fighting for democracy in Singapore is an even greater and urgent mission. I have no regrets."

Bankrupted in 2006, he stays in a 3-room flat in Toa Payoh. His wife Huang Chih Mei (48 years old) stays at home to look after 3 children aged 10, 7 and 5 years old.

So how does the couple derive an income without a job?

The couple is not employed. When asked about income, Chee expressed that he derives the majority of his income via the sale of his books. Occasionally, he also receives financial help from relatives.

"We lead a simple life. I contribute my excess resources to the party cause."

There are rumours that Chee Soon Juan is financially supported by foreign agencies, and that's why he could continue protesting without any worries. After asking him several times, Chee said: "I'm a scholar, I occasionally receive foreign funding for my research. My works have bagged awards, and I participate in foreign research programmes."

What kind of research? Is it related to democracy? Chee dodgingly replied: "Hmmm, it's about human behaviour."

"The question of whether I want to leave poverty shouldn't be answered by me"

Similar to the late Opposition leader Jeyaratnam, Chee Soon Juan was also sued for slander by government leaders, failed to pay the damage and finally was declared a bankrupt in February 2006, losing the chance to contest in the 2006 General Election. The difference is that Jeyaratnam strives hard to recover from his bankruptcy and finally succeeded before his death. Jeyaratam even set up a new political party and prepared for the GE. However, Chee Soon Juan had no plans to recover from his bankruptcy.

Chee: "Whether to recover from poverty is not a decision I make. You should ask Lee Kuan Yew. If he's not afraid of me, he could call off the debt. If he doesn't stop me from contesting in the GE, gives me the green light, I will immediately apply to be delisted as a bankrupt."

In 2006, SDP performed the worst compared to other political parties. Chee Soon Juan blamed this on the mainstream media.

He feels that the mainstream media portrayed a very negative image of him, causing SDP to perform badly at the poll.

"Because SDP proposes alternative economic plans, we also encourage major changes to the current political system, therefore the government sees us as a threat and wants to get rid of us. The mainstream media also points their guns at us."

New media as the main site for political battle in the next GE

To break free from the constraints of mainstream media, he claims that SDP would use new media as the main platform for the party in the coming GE.

Despite this, he believes the party needs the mainstream media if it wants to win in the GE.

"I'm very confident that if the mainstream media reports fairly about our beliefs and messages, the SDP would definitely enter parliament."

  民主党的作风比较强硬,工人党的作风比较中庸。几年前一个对政党政治提出尖锐批评的“大戏党”(Wayang Party)网站出现,不客气地指工人党根本是在作戏,不是真正在搞反对党政治。
SDP is radical. Workers' Party's style is moderate. A few years ago, the Wayang Party website was set up to condemn WP, stating that it is a wayang.

  大戏党后来改名为淡马锡评论(Temasek Review),对其他反对党的批评也有所收敛,不过网主的身份依然神秘。针对大戏党网站是由民主党幕后操纵,目的是打击其他反对党并提升民主党地位的传言,徐顺全矢口否认。
The Wayang Party then changed its name to Temasek Review, and also lambasted other opposition parties. TR's owner is anonymous. Referring to accusations that Wayang Party is operated by SDP so as to alleviate SDP's standing among the opposition parties, Chee denied them.

Chee: "We don't belittle other opposition."

So how is his relationship with other political party leaders? He said that they are not as close as brothers, but they stay in contact and avoid 3-cornered fights in GEs.

An extraordinary anniversary celebration

Fashion shows, Buffet dinner, no toasting on stage. SDP's 30th anniversary dinner differs much from other opposition parties'.

SDP's senior and young members became fashion show models, parading on stage with the various party uniforms. The red shirt and kaki pants is the latest uniform.

Many key opposition leaders were absent

About 170 people attended the SDP's dinner. However, many key opposition leaders were absent, including SDP's founder Chiam See Tong, WP's Low Thia Khiang, Sylvia Lim, Reform Party's Kenneth Jeyaratnam and National Solidarity Party's Sebastian Teo.

In the anniversary dinners organised by other opposition parties, the various opposition leaders were usually invited on stage to toast. It didn't occur at SDP's.

Chee's eldest daughter sings the National anthem

Chee's eldest daughter Chee An Lin (10 years old) sang the national anthem and recited the pledge. Singapore has long stopped the practice of singing the national anthem before the commencement of activities. The singing stunned many of the participants.

Chee Soon Juan frequently exposes his children into the limelight. For instance, they accompany him to court and wait for him outside the prison as he gets released. Is he doing this to win over compassion from the public? Chee: "Without family support, I find it hard to carry on. Looking at the kids, will remind me that I have to strive to give them a better Singapore."

Lianhe Zaobao

Saturday, March 20, 2010

SDP Website Censors BryanT’s Letter on Lack of Progress in Opposition Cooperation

In a recent comment sent to the SDP website on an article titled “Let's get serious about alternative: Democrats to hold public discussion”, BryanT proposed that various Opposition parties exploit the coming public forum organised by SDP to collectively develop an economic plan.

As part of the comment, BryanT also provided a link to his FB note which explained out why he is making this suggestion.

Essentially, the note provided the background that since a public forum organised last year, no progress had been made on Opposition cooperation. At most, the parties have been cordial with each other in attending each other’s events, and that is only provided these are NOT SDP’s events.

BryanT proposed that the coming public forum organised by SDP could be exploited to create some momentum for greater Opposition cooperation. The benefit would be two-fold: a more robust set of alternative economic programmes, and as a consequence, greater credibility in the eyes of the electorate for the Opposition.

The SDP website moderator BLATANTLY deleted the link to the FB note. SDP probably finds objectionable the report of lack of progress in developing Opposition cooperation. It was the party that organised the public forum last year to foster cooperation in the first place.

In fact, SDP is probably the main obstacle to greater Opposition cooperation. It pursues a strategy (of deconstructive politics through illegal civil disobedience acts) that is diametric to those carried by the main Opposition parties.

That is the main reason why Opposition cooperation (not to say any semblance of unity) has failed to take off.

It should also be noted that SDP recently raised a ruckus over ST and ZB censoring its letter concerning an interview with its Sec-Gen. SDP’s censorship of BryanT’s comment reeks of HYPOCRISY. This is a political party that does not practise what it purportedly preaches.

The parallel between the censorship of its Sec-Gen's letter and BryanT's comment is ironic, but enligtening. (It should be noted that BryanT has NEVER censored any comments on his FB, so there is no further parallel, or irony)

Such acts by SDP taint the collective reputation of the Singapore Opposition. There is no assurance that should one day an Opposition party take over the government, it will not CHANGE its mind and behave in a exact manner it has fought against whilst in Opposiiton. The electorate should not be fooled into believing that it will be better off with parties like this.

The SDP moderator has previously allowed other commenters to post links on its website, even when some of the links are irrelevant to the topic at hand. The background information concerning the lack of progress in Opposition cooperation is RELEVANT to BryanT’s proposal for it to seize the opportunity in developing collective economic programme.

The question now is this: just who is undermining the Singapore Opposition's interest?

The original comment that was sent to SDP Website with the deleted portions in bold is reproduced here:

I would like to propose for the various Opposition parties to exploit the public forum organised by SDP to collectively develop an economic plan.

Although SDP’s proposals to date are the most comprehensive and wide-ranging (I will reserve my comments about “realism” and “workability”), the other parties have also along the way articulated their set of proposals, albeit with varying degrees of success.

Since SDP is organising the forum, it is appropriate that it takes the lead to bring the various parties together for deliberations on the programme.

My suggestion is detailed here:

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Chee Soon Juan

Derek da Cunha's book "The Price of Victory: The 1997 Singapore General Election and Beyond" lets us understand more about Chee Soon Juan, the Secretary-General of Singapore Democratic Party.

The following are some excerpts from the book.

On 24 July 1994, Deputy Prime Minister Brigadier-General (NS) Lee Hsien Loong described Chee's Dare to Change as "no more than a rehash of some fashionable Western liberal ideas, welfare programmes." He also said: "The foreign media and human rights groups have been talking about it, they tried to press us to do it. They are ideas which have already failed in Western societies, and Chee Soon Juan them together, calls it a book." (Quoted in "Don't be as gullible as the SDP", Straits Times a few days later. In his words: "Points made in Dare to Change backed up the points I made in the book with research findings, observations and analyses and historical data". (Straits Times, 28 July 1994, p.30) On the basis of the statement, the government could have responded by pointing out the factual inaccuracies in Dr Chee's book. The fact that it chose not to do so might suggest that it decided to wait for a more opportune moment.
Page 9:
"and MacPherson, which would be carved out of Marine Parade GRC so as to allow a contest between the PAP's Matthias Yao and the SDP's Chee Soon Juan - contest which the latter had requested."
Page 37:
Chia Shi Teck (NMP): "Had the SDP and Mr Chiam [See Tong] continued to progress and attract talented, credible and honest people, I would not be here. There would be no need for this independent idea. But having seen the recent direction of the party, I think it is not good for the country..." --> "Shi Teck's slate as alternative to opposition," Straits Times, 7 November 1996
Page 36:
"... false submission he made to the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health Care Subsidy, which among other things, included what Chee later tried to explain away as a "typo"; his misuse of research funds of the National University of Singapore (NUS) to send his wife's thesis to the United States when he was a neuro-psychology lecturer at the university; and his inflated taxi fare claims to the NUS (where the amount was said to have been jacked up a few dollars each time he took a cab).
The people of MacPherson has passed a "solid" verdict on Chee's integrity. Chee, Wong Hong Toy, S. Kunalen and Kwan Yue Keng fined by Parliament's Committee of Priveleges over their conduct during testimony to the Select Committee on Health Care Subisidy.
Page 42:
"The despair among the SDP chief's supporters and members of his family had clearly to do with the size of his defeat, and the fact that the PAP had turned the contest in MacPherson into a referendum on Chee's character. Being defeated almost 2:1 in a bitterly-fought contest meant that the Chee camp could not take even a slither of comfort or consolation from the result. It was a conclusive defeat."
Page 49:
"But it is the speeches of the politicians, rather than just the rally atmosphere, that either animate a crowd or turn it off. For emotionally-charged speeches in the 1997 general election, few could match those delivered by SDP chief Dr Chee Soon Juan . (The emotional element aside, he was clearly also one of the better rally speakers, holding his audience in thrall.) In his last rally at MacPherson, on 31 December, Dr Chee tried to focus the minds of his audience on the fact that after 2 January, his life would not be the same again. As he began to wind up his speech, Dr Chee asked his audience whether they would vote for him. "Yes", came the answer from a section of the crowd. "I still can't hear you", Chee retorted. "Yes," came the louder answer. "I still can't hear you," he said. Louder still was the affirmative reply. As I was about to leave this scene of crowd-speaker interaction, I happened to hear a young man who was nearby make a perceptive observationto his lady companion. "Less than half say yes". This was at once prophetic and a salutary example of the silent majority, no less."
Page 60:
If one looks back, historially, over the previous three elections, with minor exceptions, leaders of major Opposition parties (and, here, I am excluding Mr Harbans Singh's United People's Front) usually took at least 40% of the vote in two-candidate single-seat contests. This should be the basis for comparison. If the leader of a major Opposition political party secures less than 40% of the vote, that does not constitute a good result.
Dr Chee, Secretary-General of the SDP, a party which between 1991 and 1996 had been the principal standard bearer of the Opposition cause in Singapore, secured 34.9% of the vote. And his vote appears a shade worse when one looks at the percentage of spoilt and blank votes in each of the constituencies in relation to total votes cast.

When an Opposition candidate has a real chance of getting elected or when the competition is keener, the percentage of spoilt and blank votes shrinks in proportion to the total votes cast. Thus, in Hougang and Potong Pasir, where the Opposition was elected, the percentage of spoilt and blank votes were the smallest amongst the 15 contested constituencies. MacPherson, where Dr Chee contested, ranks fourth highest in terms of the percentage of spoilt and blank votes.
Page 63: It was a clear rejection of the SDP which, under Dr Chee, was perceived to champion Western-style liberal democracy.

PAge 78: What precipated the event was Chee's dismissal from the NUS in March 1993, with the university accusing him of using S$226 of university research funds to despatch his wife's doctoral thesis to Pennsylvania State University the previous September. In protest at his expulsion, Chee went on a hunger strike. It was this that caused a schism within the SDP. Mr Chiam had disagreed with the way Chee was protesting his dismissal. Indeed, many other people criticised Dr Chee's hungry strike, seeing in it an exercise in self-publicity. --> Forum letters: "If Dr Chee believes he is innocent, what is stopping him from seeking legal redress?"

But what probably topped it all, in almost a chronicle of self-inflicted wounds, was Dr Chee and his SDP colleagues' appearance before, and submissions to, the Cost Review Committee and the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health Care Subsidy less than a year later. After many hours of questioning by those committees, it was concluded that the SDP team's research was flawed and that it had made glaring errors. The most significant of the errors was one suggesting that in 1990, the government's share of total health spending was 5%, instead of 25.4%, with Chee later telling Parliament's Committee of Privileges that this had been a "typo", or typographical error.

And when faced with such outcomes, Dr Chee would provide variations of a standard statement, such as the one issued in November 1995: "In the face of the PAP onslaught, the SDP assures Singaporeans that it will stand its ground. We have set our objective, which is to speak up for Singaporeans who might not otherwise get a chance to air their views, and we will be disciplined to fous on what we have to do." This might have seemed like a gutsy statement, but it would have rung hollow to those who had just witnessed the exchange. Also, whatever sympathy members of the public might have had for Dr Chee in a perceived unequal fight, might have been dissipated following the release of his statement.

Clearly, Dr Chee might have done better if he had been more selective in the battles he chose to wage with the government. Instead, he locked horns on a variety of issues. This, of course, leads one to ask why he did so? There were probably several reasons. I will offer two. One, was that he might have been bent on changing Singapore's political culture, from one which was circumscribed with out-of-bound markers, to one where limits were less apparent, trying to be the example to others to speak up. Two, he might well have felt that publicity, even bad publicity, would be good for the SDP and would translate into votes for the party at the polls.

As to the first of these reasons, Dr Chee obviously misread the ground. Most Singaporeans would seem generally satisfied with the status quo and how politics are conducted. If they want changes, these are of style, or a fine-tuning of the context within which political debate and activity takes place, not significant modifications to the system. On the second reason, he may have over-stated the significance of a high profile as against an image of sincerity.

On the day he stepped into the political spotlight, at an SDP press conference to announce the party's candidates for the by-election in Marine Parade GRC, Dr Chee was asked why he decided to align himself with the Opposition. He answered: "Mr Goh Chok Tong has called on younger Singaporeans who are capable, competent and of ministerial quality to serve Singapore in politics. I have decided to heed his call". People might well have read this as too self-regarding an answer and it was probably Dr Chee's first mistake.

Not My SDP calls for Chee Soon Juan to vacate his position as Secretary-General for his doubtful integrity.

Where's the Research ( human behaviour)?

Bryan Ti

Hitherto, CSJ had repeatedly lamented that the MSM had imposed a media blackout on the SDP.

Although he would rather not admit it, the editorial ban was mainly on SDP; other opposition parties were given some airtime (or rather, page space) to cover their electoral plans, recruitment of new members, in-house seminars and even their counter-arguments to government policies.

The recent interview with CSJ broke new grounds for SDP. CSJ was probably elated when he was offered a rare opportunity to express himself via the MSM (ie. ZB, and then reprinted by ST). In the interview, he sounded as if he deserved the new attention.

As events subsequently unfolded, we can see that he didn't.

He is now back to his old (recalcitrant) ways. He seems rather irritated that his letter has not been published in its entirety, and is presently accusing it of “censoring the SDP's views” (yet again).

His original bugbear (and defensiveness) arose out of questions being raised over his sources of income. Instead of using his follow up letter to shed some light on this, he has gone on a not-unexpected tirade about himself “fighting for democracy and the political rights of Singaporeans.”

The leopard does not change its spots.

If some politicians purport to fight for the rights of Singaporeans, then Singaporeans have the right to subject such politicians to scrutiny – to ask for a reasonable degree of openness and accountable.

Why is it so difficult for CSJ to publicly cite his “research (….like human behaviour)” work that provides him income so that the burden of doubt is lifted?

Instead of clearing the air, his latest attempt at diversion to his favourite (but tiresome) causes reinforces the perception of evasiveness.

SDP has no one but itself to blame for being ostracised by the MSM in future, and for being ignored by the people as per current.