Dear Mr Tan Chuan-jin,
According to this Straits Times report, you called upon critics of the government or this country to help improve things. Guess what, I totally agree with you! Fortunately, I do know many Singaporeans who are not only critics, but spend their time trying to make things better for Singapore in their own ways.
However, as much as all of them are passionate in the various causes they have undertaken, work is often filled with obstacles. Let me introduce some of them to you and I would like you and your colleagues to take a few moments to reflect upon their work and the government’s attitudes towards us. Do note that this is not a full listing and that there are many more groups and individuals out there who are constantly working on making Singapore a better place.
1. Animal Rights:
Animal Concerns Research & Education Society (ACRES) – They are an awesome bunch of people whose work and mission are driven by their concern for animals and their welfare. One of their most notable campaigns that targets on making tourism in Singapore a little more cruelty-free includes urging Resorts World Singapore to send the dolphins back to where they belong – the ocean.
Cat Welfare Society (CWS) – Volunteers of the CWS work very actively in promoting a humane, responsible and informed society in Singapore where cats are cared for as pets and treated with kindness as community cats.
2. Human Rights:
Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign (SADPC) & We Believe in Second Chances – Pardon me for the self-promotion here but these two groups, one of which I am very much involved in, call for the abolition of the death penalty in Singapore by looking into more humane methods of judicial punishment. Besides organising events at Speakers’ Corner, running petitions and writing about death-row inmates in the angle that the mainstream media will never think of writing, we try our best to help the family members of death-row inmates by reaching out to them.
Think Centre – Think Centre is one of the two human rights NGOs in Singapore. They work on many human rights issues in Singapore and in the region such as migrant rights, freedom of speech and like SADPC and We Believe in Second Chances, they also work on advocating against the death penalty and reaching out to the families of death-row inmates. As their work is also regional, they help to put Singapore on the regional map. It is important for Singaporeans to participate in regional human rights work, don’t you think?
Humanitarian Organisation for Migrant Economics (HOME) & Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2) – These two organisations work on issues faced by migrant workers in Singapore. I cannot imagine a day without these two groups around. Do you know why? Well look, we have really ugly employers here who mistreat their migrant workers. Horrible horrible… but I am sure you know very well, you are the Acting Minister for Manpower anyway. By the way, time to change “Manpower” to “Labour” for goodness sake.
Function 8 – Function 8 works towards restarting the process of critical thinking in society, rejuvenate the staleness of a society based on economic expediency and reclaim the human dignity and freedom which is the basis of our humanity through events such as workshops and seminars, that create platforms for discussions and reflections.
Sayoni, People Like Us (PLU), Pelangi Pride Centre, The Purple Alliance (TPA), Young Out Here, Oogachaga – These organisations (and more) provide support networks for the LGBT community in Singapore. They also help to raise awareness on the issues faced by the community as well as seek to work towards having a more inclusive society in Singapore where members of the LGBT community are not discriminated against.
3. Nature, culture and heritage:
SOS Bukit Brown – I believe you already know them and their work but I am putting this on the list in case you have forgotten about them. This wonderful group of people not only advocate against the government’s plan to remove the cemetery, they also organise trips for visitors to Bukit Brown, imparting their rich knowledge of all the history and nature that lies within the very place that the government plans to destroy. Besides that, they also help Singaporeans locate their ancestors’ graves – now that is NOT an easy peasy piece of work.
Nature Society Singapore (NSS) – This is another wonderful group of people. Not only are they involved in the Bukit Brown issue, they also work towards educating the younger generation of Singapore on the importance of conserving what is naturally ours.
4. Online Media:
The Online Citizen (TOC), Publichouse.sg, TR Emeritus – They are not only writers. They run stories that seek to educate Singaporeans about people and issues that have been forgotten by society at large. They play an important part in enriching the minds and lives of Singaporeans, providing them with issues to think about. Remember the old lamentation that Singaporeans are rather apathetic and apolitical? Well now, this is changing, thanks to our online media.
Besides these groups, there are also many other individuals whose work contribute towards more awareness in our society, especially when it comes to social justice and civil liberties. One of them is human rights lawyer M Ravi. His legal battles reflect his beliefs that we need to put in place a more humane, democratic and inclusive society in Singapore.
Now Mr Tan, I hope that you will look through the whole list and realise that there are many Singaporeans who are actually acting upon their unhappiness about different aspects of our society. They are constantly working towards changing things for the better and most of the work are done at their own time and expenses. Rather than saying that Singaporeans should work towards helping to improve things, perhaps you should take a good look at the work done by people you and your colleagues have ignored, despised, intimidated, sued, criminalised and villianised.
I think that it is time that the government stops being so stubborn and listen to what Singaporeans have to say about the current policies and laws. It is also time for the government to stop being so reluctant to change their stance on various issues ranging from minimum wage to the death penalty. It is time to stop pointing fingers at Singaporeans, but to think about the government’s past and present actions and attitudes. It is also time for all of you in the Parliament to ask yourselves whether you are in office to serve the people or your personal political ambitions.
Now no one is perfect. So please do not act as if you are, just because you wear a white party uniform.
Thank you very much.
24 Comments so far
Leave a comment