FROM ELECTRIC NEW PAPER
SINGAPORE BASHERS ABROAD
Hang on, did chee do this?
By Clarence Chang
December 07, 2005
IF it's Singapore-bashing season, you know Dr Chee Soon Juan (left) is just around the corner.
To me and other post-1965 generation Singaporeans, he has always been an enigma.
Dr Chee claims to be anti-PAP, not anti-Singapore but his many antics have hurt Singapore's image.
Intending to speak up for the plight of workers, he created a stir outside the Istana in 2002. Police officers later moved in and arrested him for speaking without a permit.
He got the publicity he wanted - foreign photographers clicked away as he was led into a police van.
To some foreign observers, the self-titled 'pro-democracy' fighter was denied freedom to speak.
On assignment in Washington DC last year, I remember the astonished faces around me as he suddenly popped up at a terrorism talk by then-PM Goh Chok Tong to highlight what he called Singapore's 'marginalised' Malays.
He showed up too at Williams College in Boston in 1996, where Mr Goh was being conferred an honorary degree.
His much-publicised heckling of Mr Goh at the last election, his numerous run-ins with the law, his legal tangles with PAP leaders - they all have attracted foreign media attention as well.
His latest tactic: Urging Singaporeans to use civil disobedience as a catalyst for change.
Then last week, in the thick of the media uproar over Australian drug trafficker Nguyen Tuong Van's hanging, he even compared himself to Mahatma Gandhi. This, coming after his call for a so-called 'global protest' against Singapore while he was in Australia two weeks ago.
The SDP chief had been quoted as saying on Australian Broadcasting Corporation television: 'The international community... should put a stop to this insanity.'
Last Friday night, he also said in a phone interview with CNN: 'The Singapore Government is always saying we're a sovereign country and our law must take its course... Well, this is not true!'
He cited the reduction of American teenage vandal Michael Fay's caning sentence in 1994, and of German student Julia Bohl's drug smuggling charge in 2002 as examples where foreign 'pressure' has and can work.
'Singapore continues to do this kind of excruciatingly hypocritical executions of small-time drug peddlers,' he added.
'The international community must... help us in Singapore evolve democracy and be able to change some of these very unjust laws.'
Such antics might provide soundbites for the foreign media but do Singaporeans appreciate them?
A typical comment came from The New Paper reader Ace Kindred Cheong.
He wrote in this paper: 'Does Dr Chee realise how many people the world over have died from drug abuse?... Does he want to see drug addicts lying in a daze on our streets as is happening elsewhere?'
Straits Times reader Siow Jia Rui put it even more bluntly:
'As a Singaporean, it is shameful of Dr Chee to actively call on other countries to interfere in Singapore's judicial process. This is another clear example of how low he will stoop to undermine Singapore...'
Dr Chee, whatever his intentions and whatever the issue, always seems to be saddled with the label 'Singapore basher' - someone who scores opportunistic own goals against his own country.
A fellow journalist had this rhetorical question: If Dr Chee is almost bankrupt (which he himself had claimed this year after the High Court ordered him to pay $500,000 in damages for defaming Mr Goh and Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew), then how is he still able to jet around the world so frequently?
Indeed, a check with the SDP's own website throws up a number of foreign organisational links, like the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats, the Alliance for Reform and Democracy in Asia, and the World Movement for Democracy.
Dr Chee's supporters, no doubt, will accuse his political enemies and the local media of demonising him.
They'll argue that he's anti-PAP, not anti-Singapore, which is why he hasn't packed his bags and left.
In fact, Dr Chee has said he intends to stick around and campaign for political reform come election time - even though, after his $4,500 fine in 2002 for speaking on religion at the Speakers' Corner, he's not eligible to stand as a candidate this time round.
Even people who are sympathetic towards him are not thrilled at the way he strikes out. If he's truly sincere in wanting to change the status quo in Singapore, he first needs to make the domestic audience - his fellow citizens - trust him.
Fighting his battles from the outside, and throwing his weight behind foreigners who fire potshots our way, will never endear him to Singaporeans.
this guy calls himself a Sporean?? the gahmen should revoke his citizenship man!!