Sunday, June 10, 2007

Singapore Dem Party Official Pwns Ma Ying-jeou

KMT Presidential Candidate Ma Ying-jeou is visiting Singapore and held it up as an example for Taiwan...and got some interesting feedback from the local democracy parties, who had some good things to say about Taiwan, in the form of an open letter. Many thanks to the reader who forwarded me this open letter.....

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8 June 2007

Mr Ma Ying-jeou
Former Chairman
Presidential Candidate
Kuomintang Party
2nd Section Ba De Road
232-234, 10492, Taipei City
Taiwan

Dear Mr Ma,

Warm greetings to you from Singapore. I understand that you are visiting Singapore and would like to welcome you. I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate you on your candidacy in Taiwan's presidential elections next year.

However, I read with great dismay in Singapore's Straits Times dated 2 June 2007, that "Ma cites Singapore as an example for Taiwan ". In the report, you were quoted as saying that "Singapore is different from us (Taiwan) as its emphasis is not on democratization. Nevertheless, it is professional, corruption-free and efficient, which is worth our learning" and that "The Singapore Government is very efficient. They can reach consensus easily and there is no squabbling or fighting."

The newspaper also said that you had cited the high pay of Singapore s ministers as one example of the country's pragmatism.

Perhaps what you have read or been informed about Singapore is the official line. There is much misinformation and propaganda that the government puts out. Please allow me to reveal some truths:

The "corrupt-free" impression that the People's Action Party (PAP) government gives to the world stems from the fact that the state's leaders have used draconian laws to silence its critics. Opposition politicians have been bankrupted, imprisoned and run out of the country for trying to hold the government responsible to Singaporeans.

In the numerous civil lawsuits and criminal trials which the country's leaders and the government have brought against their dissenters, the courts have always ruled against the defendants.

All forms of media here are controlled by the authorities. Newspapers, magazines, television and radio networks are owned by the state. Even internet service providers (ISPs) are government-owned.

Singapore has been dominated by the PAP since the 1960s. The party has always had more than 95 per cent of the seats in parliament even though it might have less than 70 per cent of popular support. Elections in Singapore are far from free and fair. The Elections Department is answerable to the Prime Minister's Office. The Group Constituency Representation (GRC) was established in the 1988 to with deal with the rising unpopularity of the ruling party. The government hands out money in the form of shares that can be encashed during the elections. This, in the view of many in Singapore, is vote-buying. Mr Lee Kuan Yew and other PAP leaders have been suing opposition candidates over the years, and they have never lost a case.

These are but just some tactics that the PAP government uses to ensure that it wins with a overwhelming majority in each election.

As you have noted, Singapore's ministers are highly paid. The prime minister of Singapore is paid 12 times that of Taiwan's president. Even the salary of a junior minister here is more than seven times that of Mr. Chen Shui-bian's. There is a difference between pragmatism and avarice. I am afraid you have mixed the two up. Perhaps this explains why consensus is reached easily in the government. When money talks, consciences keep silent.

There are other countries that are looking at Singapore as a role-model for economic success. Thailand (under ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra), Hong Kong (under former Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa), China, Cambodia, Russia, and Venezuela, amongst others, look to Singapore as a model for economic development.

However, economic progress and political development are not mutually exclusive. In trying to follow the Singapore model, political and social landscapes will be severely and negatively affected. The type of "affluence" achieved in Singapore, cannot be made without the suppression of rights and basic freedoms.

While you say that Singapore's emphasis is not on democracy, you also say that the government is corruption-free. Yet I am certain that you are aware that a democracy is the most effective way to hold a government accountable and ensure a corrupt-free system.

I am sure that the people of Taiwan cherish their hard-won political freedom and are proud to live in a democratic society, a society that they contribute towards and continue to shape. In fact, in many ways democracy advocates in Singapore draw inspiration from Taiwan in its transformation from martial law to a bona fide democracy.

I am perturbed that a leader from one of Asia's most vibrant and proud democracies should cite the PAP as a model-of-sorts. I sincerely hope that during your visit to Singapore you will express support Singapore's struggle for democracy.

Most respectfully yours,

CHEE Siok Chin (Ms)
Central Executive Member
Singapore Democratic Party

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I'm afraid that your hope will be dissappointed.




10 comments:

taipeimarc said...

Only someone who is comfortable with a dictatorship would mention Singapore as a model. I suggest Mr. Ma read this article, Why Singapore is a pathetic place

Also, just last year, the Far Eastern Economic Review was banned from Singapore because they wrote an article on opposition leader Chee Soon Juan. They were also extorted by the government along with all the rest of the foreign media. If Singapore becomes the model for TWN, so long Liberty Times, Taipei Times and the View from Taiwan.

If this is the best Ma and the KMT can come up with, there is no hope for their survival as a political party. People here know the score.

walter said...

Lol, that was funny. Mayor Ma did get PWNED! This is definitely going on facebook.com

Michael Turton said...

yeah, I think so too, taipeimarc. As Maddog pointed out to me in the email, remember when Ma thought it would be great if Taiwan produced another Hu Jin-tao.

Anonymous said...

And Ma has a degree from Harvard?? What an idiot. How can the Taiwanese vote for a man who doesn't even believe in the freedom and democracy the Taiwanese have fought so hard to win?

I can not imagine an American presidential candidate surviving a comment like that.

channing said...

That might be oversimplifying it a bit there. Accusing Ma of "not believing in freedom and democracy" is quite a bold step to take; also, an American presidential candidate faces a very different environment as Taiwan's democracy is still developing its fundamental principles.

Michael Turton said...

Channing:

I think the second half of your comment is dead on, but Ma's lack of belief in freedom and democracy is well documented. In the late 1970s he faced the same choices as Chen, Shih, Hsieh, Lu, and the others concerning building democracy in Taiwan. Unlike them, and many other mainlanders, Ma chose to serve the regime, first as a student spy, and later as private secretary to a murdering dictator.

There's no way around it: Ma's track record is completely clear on his support for freedom and democracy. When tested, he failed.

Michael

Anonymous said...

@channing

This has nothing to do with the sophistication or developmental stage of Taiwan's democracy. This is politics 101: When running for a position in a democracy you might not want to gaze fondly at a de facto totalitarian state and say "gee I wish we could be more like them". Even if Ma thinks this is so (which apparently he does) he is a political idiot for saying it.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Mike, for forwarding this good article.

We value Taiwan's freedom and democracy. We have to do everything we can to protect Taiwan from being invaded by China in any ways. We have to let those chinese know that we Taiwanese have our own way of living and values.

By the way, I like the photos you took in Taiwan.

MatthewTan said...

FEER was not banned for writing about Dr. Chee. It was banned for not complying with Singapore's laws/regulations.

For those who do not know about Singapore politics…

[I wrote the following elsewhere]

There are many other opposition parties in Singapore, but the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) is the worst performer in every General Election. They can hardly get 25 per cent of the votes, whereas other opposition party members get up to 33 to 40 per cent. A few got over 50%.

The SDP is despised in Singapore. Do not give them too much attention.

The leader of SDP is Dr. Chee. Before Dr. Chee became the leader, the SDP was the most respected and successful oppposition party in Singapore, under Chiam See Tong. After Chee joined the SDP, Chee ousted Chiam who was his mentor. Singaporeans do not have much respect for such a character. And more so because he was actually charged in court for mis-use of university research funds and dishonestly claiming reimbursement for taxi mileage. And he was convicted by the court.

And the banning of FEER and other magazines - we did these things once-in-while, when they don’t comply with our laws. We don’t need to apologise for this.

You want to sell your magazine in Singapore, then obey our laws. You want to sell your ideology and accuse our government? Then give us the right of reply. That is what we insist in our laws. And put down some money deposit.

We have not asked for so much that you cannot pay and cannot do. If you can’t even pay this small amount and do this little thing, then you better get out of Singapore market. We don’t want you. And we don’t trust you because you are unwilling to pay (a deposit) for what you believe in.

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Singaporeans have free access to all kind of information over the internet, and countless magazines and periodicals. We certainly have no need for FEER which does not respect our laws.

MatthewTan said...

There are many other opposition parties in Singapore, but the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) is the worst performer in every General Election. They can hardly get 25 per cent of the votes, whereas other opposition party members get up to 33 to 40 per cent. A few got over 50%.

The SDP is despised in Singapore. Do not give them too much attention.

The leader of SDP is Dr. Chee. Before Dr. Chee became the leader, the SDP was the most respected and successful oppposition party in Singapore, under Chiam See Tong. After Chee joined the SDP, Chee ousted Chiam who was his mentor. Singaporeans do not have much respect for such a character. And more so because he was actually charged in court for mis-use of university research funds and dishonestly claiming reimbursement for taxi mileage. And he was convicted by the court.

And the banning of FEER and other magazines - we did these things once-in-while, when they don’t comply with our laws. We don’t need to apologise for this.

You want to sell your magazine in Singapore, then obey our laws. You want to sell your ideology and accuse our government? Then give us the right of reply. That is what we insist in our laws. And put down some money deposit.

We have not asked for so much that you cannot pay and cannot do. If you can’t even pay this small amount and do this little thing, then you better get out of Singapore market. We don’t want you. And we don’t trust you because you are unwilling to pay (a deposit) for what you believe in.

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No...Singaporeans have free access to all kind of information. That's why I am reading this, and this http://www.feer.com/tales/?p=360#comment-63652

We have thousands of magazines and periodicals to read. We do not need the cowardly FEER that is not willing to pay (a deposit) for what they believe in. I despise FEER.