Monday, April 25, 2005

Looking for Punching Bags?

Recently, after the casino decision is made by PAP, we received letters, emails to urge us to stand for election in their constituencies so that they could exercise their votes against PAP.

This is a good sign yet a very depressing situation. This brings back memory of Today newspaper's interview with Mr. Low TK, in which he says, "We (opposition members) are all suckers, aren't we?"

It is a good sign in the sense that Singaporeans realize that it is the political front that will matter to PAP. It is a depressing situation because Singaporeans are merely treating opposition parties like "punching bags" that could provide them the avenue for them to vent their frustrations against PAP whenever they are angry at PAP.

For so many years, most Singaporeans are either apathetic or fearful about joining the fight to build up a good alternative political platform. They will only remember about opposition parties when they need one to vent their frustrations against PAP. They would neither contribute to the development of the alternative platform either by activism nor financial support. Sometimes, they would even degrade opposition politicians due to ignorance or propaganda effects of the media.

There are some improvement shown recently by some social activists in the sense that they are willing to help or be identified with opposition political parties or individuals. But this is still not enough. We need people to help us to provide a long term political educational process to the masses so that they would make a better balanced views of alternative politics.

Of course, we need people to work on the ground or even make themselves count in the electoral process by manning polling stations as polling agents or stand as candidates.

Singaporeans believe PAP's claims every elections that opposition members are only active on the ground when elections come. However they never realize that it is their total neglect of the alternative political process has in effect created such situation.

I sincerely hope Singaporeans could see what damage PAP has done to the political system of our Nation. The de-politicization of the Nation would have long term effects on our long term survival as a Nation. Imagine that a thirty something citizen came and complained that he has no chance to vote or participate in the electoral process for his whole life, what does that tell you? It means that he is being marginalized politically, de-politicized as a citizen and he would not have such a pride in being a citizen. He would lost his sense of citizenship in the process and eventually, no sense of belonging to this Nation, least sense of "ownership" of this Nation.

It is time to create this political awareness among our citizens that each actions carry a result. The apathy and neglect of our citizens would naturally result in the overall weakness of our political system.

Goh Meng Seng

Thursday, April 21, 2005

I Cry For Singapore

These are two very emotional peom/rythm that UTongLoong and Jacys have written after PAP government has decided the fate of our future generations:

By UTongloong




By Jacys

There storm clouds in the distance
The sun no longer shines
This downpour would last a lifetime
May cold and dampness be my groom and shelter.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005


There is a constant call for Reforms to our electoral rules to make our elections "free, fair and clean". The following is a passionate call from an internet forumite, DeArcher, from Sammyboy's.

Although I don't agree with him that we could achieve anything through the boycott of any elections, but I think we could do something in terms of collaborating with other alternative political parties to come up with a list of reforms that we think would be beneficial to our Nation.

Goh Meng Seng

By DeArcher


Mr Goh, I am sure that you knew a splintered opposition will gather no strength, and be easy prey to the ruling regime. You want to argue against that? Of course not. You may also know that bickering within the various opposition parties, whether to score political capital amongst opposition sympathisers or gain ego points, will do nothing to change the makeup of power politics. What will, and did, happen was the ruling party taking full advantage of the disunited opposition to dictate how elections are to be run, and as singular opposition party entities, you are too weak to protest or demand changes. You become willing hostage of your own device. Stupidity!

Allow me to put in perspective.

From my understanding, you entered politics - like many others - as you see the ruling regime not doing their duty towards the citizens, especially the weak, the poor, the jobless who wanted but couldn't get a job, the victims of mercenary public policies, and which the present ruling party refuse to help, their totalitarian policies and their social neglect. We see more people rummaging through rubbish bins, more bankruptcies, more people in debt trap, more suicides, more beggars rounded up, contrary to the rosy picture painted by the gov controlled newspapers. They had now 51 so-called "public help schemes" that MCYS will boast and they can easily add another such 100 schemes to fool the public, and fool the world, but which did almost nothing to relieve the misery of the poor and the old. Instead they are ever willing to spend huge sums of public money on cultural and sports facilities, arts events and parties, for high society. The poor, the middle class, are paying for them, and they face imprisonment if they don't. What they get in return is almost nothing, not even due recognition, not help to provide shelter, water, electricity, and basic meals. All the existing help schemes have little money, more cosmetic than real, and therefore only few got the assistance. Many of the poor are neglected, and their voices silenced through censorship. We know because we lived here. The world doesn't know, the newspapers didn't report on it, parliament wouldn't investigate, and so the problems will never get solved. That is the reason why regime change is required.

The opposition will have to lead the quest for regime change. The ruling party had, in the past, weakened all major opposition parties. They are opportunists, brutal at times as seen in Ops Coldstore. They use public apparatus to work against public interests. Who are the members and staff of the ISD, the police, the judiciary? They are citizens like us, but they arrest and jail citizens, including those brave enough to stand up to fight for the rights of the citizens. This explains why citizens here feel no pride, no ownership, in their own land when their voices were silenced, their interests neglected or overruled, and takes no part in government. All these must change. Dictatorial rule must go, and people must be the determining force in government, which the world calls democracy. Would we allow one single party to hold the nation hostage? I don't think we should.

With above in mind, opposition parties must close ranks to achieve one thing - allow the citizens to choose the government they wanted by means of a free, fair and clean elections. Throw out all rules that obstruct this objective. We want an election that puts no barriers on candidates or voters. We want the voters to have a free choice, and most importantly, we want every single voter to have something to vote on. Not walkovers!

Actually, it is very simple to get the opposition together and come up with a joint communiqué on how our general elections should be conducted and audited. Appoint one respectable person, JBJ for example and call him Reform Chairman, to write to all political parties asking for their submission on proposed changes and reforms to parliamentary elections, including the issue of lawsuits, media coverage of elections, boundary changes, election timelines, candidate pre-qualification barriers to remove, vote count audits and permits for rallies, amongst others. He need only to compile them, and calls for a meeting (each party sends a senior representative) which he shall chair, and calls for a vote on every proposed changes. He calls for a second meeting to decide on items whereby the party representatives need to refer to their party leadership for a decision. Finalise the changes and tabulate all adopted changes into one document to be signed by all party leaders at a simple ceremony, including the solidarity to take the necessary measures, such as a united boycott on elections, if the reforms are not satisfactorily adopted by the government. A press conference, at a appropriate time, will be called and the reform document distributed to the reporters, with a call to the government to adopt the reforms with a deadline. Who submits what reforms should not be disclosed, since it doesn't matter as they were passed by majority vote. I think it would take no more than 6 months to complete this. Negotiations between the ruling party and the opposition parties will be held only with the Reform Chairman thus appointed, and not with individual party leaders to prevent divide-and-rule tactics.

Should the talks fail to adequately adopt the electoral reforms, the Reform Chairman can consult with all opposition leaders on steps to stage a boycott and write to newspapers and foreign governments saying that the united opposition in SG does not recognise the boycotted election results, and perhaps, to call on the United Nations to intervene and conduct our GE for Singapore.

It is the right of every citizen in Singapore that they collectively choose their own government through free, fair and clean general elections. No one can take that away from the citizens. Not PAP.

Anti-ISA VS Anti-Terrorism

Anti-ISA VS Anti-Terrorism

Someone queries about my stand on Internal Security Act or rather, the Internal Security Department. I am fundamentally against detention without trial indefinitely. If the department needs time to gather evidence to make out a case against an individual, then it would mean that it does not have enough evidence to detain anyone. And to detain someone for two decades is totally unjustifiable. It would mean either the ISD is totally ineffective and inefficient to gather the necessary evidences to put up a case against the detainee for the twenty years or so, or that the ISA has been abused to deny a human being his right to freedom for no good reasons.

However, there are times when authority needs to detain certain suspects to prevent them to cause harm to the Nation or innocent citizens, though they have insufficient information or evidence against him. But this does not mean that ISD could detain anyone at its fancy. There must be strict rules and requirement to be adhered to. To detain someone who merely pose a legitimate political threat to the ruling party is totally unacceptable. Unless the authority could justify that this individual is involved in terrorism that would harm the innocent citizens unconstitutionally.

The intention to give the relevant authority the power to detain an individual without trial longer than the normal legal allowance is to give them more time to investigate, not for any other reasons. There are worries that some may receive light sentences if they are being charged under the present laws. This could be resolved by passing special laws on Anti-Terrorism that would provide heavy penalties when one is found guilty of it. There are also concerns that a charge could not be brought to a civil court when sensitive information and witnesses with regards to National security would be exposed. This could be resolved by calling a closed-door hearing. Prosecution witnesses’ identities could be kept secret. The authority must prove its ability and effectiveness to bring forward the charge, if any, within an extended time period. In my opinion, 2 years is the maximum time we could give the authority to further their investigations. If they could not conclude their findings to bring forward a charge, it just demonstrates their inadequacy and the detainee should be released with apologies. Individuals should not be made accountable for the inadequacy of the relevant department. The department should be made accountable for their inadequacy and inefficiency. No further “extension” of detention should be allowed nor entertained.

The question now lies in how do we define Terrorism? Terrorism is an act that compromises the safety of citizens’ lives and properties for their political motivation. Terrorism is an attempt of capturing power through an unconstitutional and undemocratic way, by means of instilling fear in the population through violent and devastating acts of indiscriminate bombings and killings.

I would support an Anti-Terrorism Act to replace the present Internal Security Act. The Anti-Terrorism Act will have a more stringent requirement that will put a check on discriminate abuse of the power provided by the Act. The agents must apply to the court to provide the reasons or reasonable belief they have on a suspect that would engage in terrorist acts that would endanger the lives and properties of innocent citizens. The maximum time allowed for detention without trial would be fixed at 24 months. If the agents could not provide further evidences to formulate a charge of terrorism or treason on the suspect, they will have to release the detainees with public apologies. They could further investigate on the detainees as they deem fit but further detention must be accompanied with a valid charge.

It is necessary to determine the level of involvement of each suspect. Are they

1. supporter
2. junior member
3. senior member
4. key expert (bomb, networking, fund raising,
recruitment, trainers etc).
5. key member / senior leader

The Anti-terrorist laws would have to make differential sentence for different level of involvement. Life imprisonment could be imposed for Senior leaders and key expert.

This will effectively prevent abuse such additional powers provided by such Act and put up a system that does not tolerate incompetence bureaucrats. This will also provide a balance for the need to protect innocent citizens from terrorist threats.

Goh Meng Seng

Monday, April 11, 2005

Focus to Win

As an opposition working towards Alternative, I think it is important that we stay focus on the course to WIN as many seats as possible first. Only when we are able to prove ourselves capable of winning, people will converge and believe in our work. Hopefully by then, more people will come forward and make their effort count.

The following is a list of good advice given by a forumite named Talk No Action:

By Talk No Action


I think the WP should do what it
believes is good for Singapore and Singaporeans.
There will always be characters that oppose
the PAP but will not share the same philosophy
as WP. It is not enough for these people to agree
to disagree but they turn on to attack the WP, that
helps PAP by dividing the opposition and
weakens all opposition through disunity.

I think even if opposition parties/supporters
don't agree they should not resort to bitter attacks such
as those you were subjected to.

I always thought there are certain strategies that
are more effective against the regime than others:

1. Concentrate on gaining support. That is the basics
of politics.

2. Watch your enemies weapons to avoid attacks. Seeing
how the regime cull its opponents and render them powerless,
it is common sense to avoid stepping into the trap. Of course
some will be sacrificial lambs to show the ruthlessness of
the regime, but others must avoid destruction.

3. To be successful as an opposition party, plan and strategize to win. Embark on winning strategies to win support. To be successful, recruit successful people, that will strengthen the party and win support.

4. Don't not allow your opponent to destroy your integrity & reputation. Politics is dirty. You opponent will tarnish you anyway they can, whenever they get an excuse. Never step into the trap. Remember the regime control the press and use that to crush your reputation. Just don't give them a chance.

5. Know the people and their aspirations. People will vote for you if you help them to get what they want. The PAP is the master of this. They know what matters and what promises to make to win votes. While important issues of human rights, people's rights may not rank high on people's mind, the bread and butter issues appears to be what concerns them.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Opposition Unity Vs Teamwork

Opposition Unity Vs Teamwork

Most of the common debate about working towards the Alternative, lies in the concept of “Opposition Unity”. The formation of the Singapore Democrat Alliance (SDA) back in 2000 has raised hope of an all encompassing one united front “against” PAP’s powerful machinery.

SDA’s component parties have always wanted Workers’ Party to join them, in order to add strength to this alliance front. WP has resisted the idea of joining the Alliance for various reasons and it is seen as a political party that is against “Opposition Unity” by many political observers and opposition supporters.

In the recent poll commissioned by the Chinese daily, Zaobao, about 94% of respondents know about Workers’ Party but only 50+% of these respondents know about SDA. Even Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) fairs better with over 80%.

This demonstrates that SDA’s brand barely passes the popular awareness level. What went wrong? The component parties of SDA did not concentrate their efforts in selling their common vehicle, SDA. There is no concerted effort from each individual alliance members to come together to work as a team to market their alliance brand name. SDA is just an alliance of convenience for these parties to put up GRC teams to contest elections. Is this what opposition unity is all about?

In my personal opinion, teamwork is the substance of “Opposition Unity”. An alliance that lacks coordinated effort to work together, promote their common election vehicle, is as good as none. Even within a political party, there might be instances that each political “chiefs” wanted their own ways and there is little effort to work together as a team.

Teamwork is more important to the road towards alternative. Our Casino Forum and subsequently, the policy statement made, are the fruits of effective teamwork among party members as well as non-party helpers. Even my Anti-Casino speech is a direct result of teamwork, convergent of all contributions made by many individuals that have come forward to help us. Our weekly Hammer sales are also the result of teamwork derived from articles contributed by various individuals and coordinated effort of party members to burn their weekends to go for these weekly Hammer sales. Walking the ground is a tedious and thankless job. It would not be sustainable and possible if there is no teamwork among various members and non-members.

“Opposition Unity” would sound very hollow if it lacks coordinated teamwork in every aspect. We would rather all parties merge with us as one party and we will formulate strategies that work towards team building as well as coordinated movements. If we are serious about working towards a REAL ALTERNATIVE, then we should not wait for General Elections to come before we talk about “Opposition Unity” with any visible substance of teamwork or team building.

We are definitely not against “Opposition Unity”. However, we put more emphasis on team building and teamwork during off-election period, to lay a good groundwork and foundation in order to enhance our battle capabilities during election time.

Boycotting Elections - is it a good idea?

There is an interesting debate in Sammyboy's forum on whether Boycotting Elections would achieve a pressure on PAP to make the election rules more balanced and fair. This is what SGLoyalist has to say:

Boycotting Elections - is it a good idea?


A is for boycott, B is for contesting elections.

A: Singapore's opposition parties should boycott elections since elections are not free and fair.

B: Barisan Sosialis boycotted Parliament in the 1960s and the PAP dominated Singapore politics since.

A: Then was 1960s, this is 2005. Times are different now.

B: What is it so different now?

A: Now, the UN and USA will watch Singapore closely if there are 100% walkovers.

B: You mean the UN and USA didn't exist in the 1960s when PAP won 100% of the seats? Singapore was even admitted into the UN during that era.

A: Winning 100% of the seats is different from 100% walkovers. The UN and USA will realise the true situation in Singapore.

B: On the contrary, the PAP will convince them that the opposition have no seats because they gave them up, not because they cannot win. The voters will also wonder what is the point of electing opposition candidates when they are so fond of resigning. This was what caused the Barisan Sosialis to lose credibility.

A: No, Singapore elections will look like Iraq elections, and USA may even invade Singapore to throw out the PAP like what they did to Iraq's Baath Party. Then the opposition can take over.

B: Do you think Singapore is such a concern to the major countries when we are not a threat internationally? The USA invasion of Iraq was over terrorism, security and in a way, the oil-rich fields of Iraq.

A: If opposition parties contest elections, they make the PAP appear democratic. With 100% walkovers, the international community will discern that the PAP is not democratic.

B: In that case, we might as well have all opposition parties dissolve and shut down. Currently, they are registered as political parties in the books of the PAP government's Registry of Societies (ROS). This already makes the PAP look democratic.

A: If opposition parties do this, the PAP can always form fake opposition parties.

B: If opposition parties boycott the elections, the PAP can also send fake opposing candidates.

A: But by their existence, opposition parties can take over the PAP when the PAP falls.

B: They can always exist as an unregistered network of activists until the PAP falls, correct? Anyway, how will the PAP fall if opposition parties do not contest elections and the world thinks they are democratic?

A: But opposition can never win elections because the election rules are not free and fair! The rules are skewed towards the PAP.

B: In what way is elections "not free and fair"?

A: Gerrymandering, expanding GRCs, high election deposits, voters threatened with upgrading, suing of opposition candidates and more.

B: Are the results of the elections rigged? No. The rules may change, but opposition can still win if enough Singaporeans are willing to stand up to be counted and become non-PAP candidates, lend resources and have enough people voting for them. The people have a choice not to accept upgrading. Only a few opposition candidates are sued; most are not.

A: Under the present electoral rules, opposition will win one or two seats at the most. The PAP will not be allow them to win more than that.

B: SDP won three seats in 1991, correct? What do you mean by "PAP will not allow"? The people are the ones who vote for opposition, not the PAP.

A: Good opposition like Mr JBJ and Dr Chee will not win.

B: You mean Mr Low TK and Mr Chiam ST are not "real opposition"?

A: They contest elections that are not free and fair, thus helping the PAP show that Singapore is democratic. They are opposition approved by the PAP, and have been praised by the PAP.

B: If they are indeed what you said, they might as well join the PAP. Why be PAP-approved opposition when they can be PAP men, reap more benefits and save so much hassle? And for your information, Mr JBJ has won before.

A: But he was jailed, fined, sued, became a bankrupt and lost his seat. All good opposition will end up like him. The PAP wants to keep them out of Parliament.

B: You said elections are not free and fair. Why does the PAP need to bankrupt them to keep them out of the elections since the PAP is so certain they cannot win?

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Citizens' Activism

Citizens’ Activism

The casino debate has created an unusual situation for a normally, politically sterile Singapore. It has sparked some individuals to start a web site FACTS ( to collect signatures to sign on petition against the Casino, to be submitted to our President. FACTS stands for “Family Against Casino Threats to Singapore”.

This is a rare demonstration of social activism initiated by a few individuals without any organization nor political network or connections. Some would view it as an “awakening” of social activism.

Although the message FACTS spreads is potentially political in nature, they have skillfully disassociated themselves from any political connections, especially those from the alternative platform. Thus, though FACTS has demonstrated a new form of citizens’ activism, it has also demonstrated the subtle “FEAR” that this society has in association with the alternative platform.

We used to have active participation from citizens in the form of civic societies like Think Centre, Socratic Circles, Round Table, Nature Society and the Tangent. However, some of these civic societies have died down or even de-registered themselves when many of their members became inactive or have “upgraded” themselves into partisan politics. The Socratic Circle and Round Table are those which have closed down due to such development. Think Centre also faces a serious “brain drain” when many of its past activists have stepped into partisan politics.

Are we having a “renaissance” in civic activism due to the casino debate? Workers’ Party did receive a lot of emails from individuals all over the world when it decides to organize a public forum to collect public feedback on the casino issue. The internet services have provided an easy and accessible way of communication as well as channel for social activism with regards to contribution of political views. It is changing the rules and structure of the game of social activism as well as political activism.

Political activism cannot sustain without the support of social activism. Internet services have encouraged more social participation in terms of contribution of social and political discourses. Blogger and internet forums have provided a very convenient platform for individuals to put up their views for all to read in the cyberspace.

However, for a political party like Workers’ Party to work towards alternative, we need more than opinion providers. We need people with more courage to take a step further to make contributions on various fronts. The apprehension of joining an opposition party is well understood. Individuals could help out as social or political activists without signing up the membership form at all. We do receive help from various individuals to do research which have proven to be very useful and effective for formulating our casino stand. But we need more people in research as well as in ground work. We basically need more people to walk the talk, to make his stand by contributing to the political process via a political platform.

If the casino debate only raise social awareness and social activism in a very narrow spectrum, then the day for the alternative to be formed would take a longer time to materialize.

Politics can never do without people behind it. The transformation of the Taiwan military rule into a democratic one needs the involvement of both politicians as well as many non-party activists. Academics have provided research and think tank services through the participation of various political meetings. Social and political activists helping out in elections and ground work. Eventually, the real Alternative was formed within a short span of ten years, which has proceeded to take over power later on.

Citizens’ activism must not shy away from the various political platforms. If everything we do, we always have this consideration of “de-politicizing” it, then we will never achieve an effective check and balance status on the ruling party.

The arrogance of the ruling party to disregard the massive citizens’ activism against the Casino but to decide on the issue basically on its own has demonstrated that such “de-politicized” activism has little effect in pressurizing the ruling party to take them seriously. It is only when Mr. Low Thia Khiang made the public statement on wanting to make the casino issue as an election issue that the ruling party has responded vigorously.

Social activists must realize that their route of “de-politicizing” may just not be effective enough. If it was effective, many members of the civic societies would not have gone into partisan politics. We must learn from those defunct civic societies about the reality of one party rule in Singapore.

5 Stars Of Singapore Flag

The following is a posting done by TalkNoAction in Sammyboy's forum. He has reflected my sentiments very well. We must go back to the basics of the foundations that we build our Nations on: the 5 Stars of our National Flag.

Singaporean's Singapore used to be our motto of Nation building. However, down the road, this slogan seems empty and hollow with PAP's tight grip on power the the vast social engineering it has mounted on Singaporeans. It is only till recently, PAP talks about "ownership" and "inclusiveness". I have to ask the most important question, who does PAP think has the ownership of Singapore prior to their call of "collective ownership"? It is supposed to be Singaporean's Singapore, not PAP's Singapore, isn't it?

Goh Meng Seng

By Talk No Action

When the nation of Singapore was formed, we held 5 ideals of democracy, peace, progress, justice and equality represented by the 5 stars of our flag. As a loyal Singaporean, these ideals are what we must all strive for as a nation as we serve this nation. It has been almost 4 decades since our small nation is formed.

1. Democracy - the PAP regime practically destroyed it. Of all the nations around us which one is less democratic than us? Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia or Thailand? The regime has gradually exercised control over the media, repressed the opposition and tinkered with the election system. We are governed by a regime that does not believe in Democracy.

2. Peace & Progress. We have because our neighbours are culturally and traditionally non-aggressive countries. We spent tons in the name of Defence arming ourselves to the teeth since independence and should be thankful our neighbours have no interest in joining us in the arms race. When our young nation was formed, the region was unstable so was the world, we felt we have to spend aggressively on defence to secure this peace. But we time passes, we realise our neighbours are non-aggressive and strangely our defence resources are used on various peace keeping missions around the region. The threats have changed from all out war to terrorism with the biggest threat coming from within. I would say our nation has made enormous economic progress and harmony among various races and religions has been well maintained even as it worsened in other parts of the world.

3. Justice and Equality. We started with meritocracy and ended up with elitism. Was there justice for the opposition leaders bankrupted and destroyed by through the use of courts of law? Some Singaporeans have become more equal than others - just look at the Bhatia case. Elitism has resulted in unequal opportunities with special treatment for a selected segment of our population.

Our flag might as well have just 2 stars. We are governed by a regime that doesn't believe the ideals on which this nation was formed and run this country like they own it. The pro-business policies, the high income gap, the lack of welfare for the people ensures the inequality will grow. I love this country and strongly believe in the ideals on which this country was built....that is why I don't support the PAP.

A Singapore without Singaporeans

The following is one of my earlier article:

A Singapore without Singaporeans, A Nation without Nationhood. That's where we are heading to.

There are people who commented that Singapore is just a "Merchant City and a Hotel" to them. They are in their twenties but they are already planning their exits, migrating to somewhere more comfortable to live in.

They are not entirely "wrong" to think this way. Look at it this way, when you start to see those in the forties, losing jobs and not able to get employed with a decent wage, would you worry for yourself? Worst of all, the govt is seeking to raise the retirement age when it is obvious that those in their forties find it hard to get a job!

It is apparent that for those who have been caught by the "Asset Enhancement Scheme", they will not have enough money for retirement! And all PAP thinks about is whether this group of people would burden their coffers! That's how medisave come about.

Those in their forties and planning for retirement will have no choice but to cash out and retire somewhere. They must face the reality that they have come to the end of their productive life and the state is not going to take care of them. For all the myths they have believed so dearly, democratic socialism or asset enhancement, they have been disillusioned and there isn't going to be enough money for them to retire in Singapore. There will be no farewell party for them when they leave. It would be "good" if they no longer pose a "financial burden" to the govt anymore!

For the twenties they saw what happen to the forties. They will also plan their exit and realize that they would only be "useful" when they are at their peak of productive life cycle. It is no wonder the PAP is beginning to woo at them nowadays. But there are still many migrated out. So the FT policy is in place to fill up the holes left behind. But these FTs may just remain forever Foreign.

When a nation is filled with people, both young and middle aged, thinking about migrating out of the country all the time, there isn't an existence of a Nation in essence anymore. Singapore is just a temporary refuge to their being. And there is no doubt what will happen to these people if there is to be an eminent threat to Singapore as Nation.

Nationhood has not been firmly forged for the past 39 years of nation building. Those national day parades that we have had for the past have lost its appeals when the reality of PAP govt policies set in.

Goh Meng Seng

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Speech presented in 5 March Casino Forum

A very good afternoon to James, my fellow comrades and citizens who have gathered here today for this casino forum.

I am tasked to present the reasons and rationale behind the anti-casino movement. Before I go on, I would like to comment on the online petition initiative by FACTS. Their slogan screams through the net, “Do you want your children to grow up learning that it is OK to gamble?” I have my personal slogan, “If you don’t want your children to be a gambler, why would you support the casino that makes others’ children to become gamblers?” Many proponents of casino will cry foul at such slogans and term them as “Moralist garbage”. Nevertheless, this “Moralist garbage” does appeal to many Singaporeans. At least twenty-seven thousand Singaporeans have signed against Casino in Singapore via FACTS web site so far. Their social activism is really commendable.

Many people thought that putting up a case against casino is a very simple task. It is definitely not so. We have to tackle the issue from a multi-dimensional platform. Throwing slogans around is just not enough. As members of a socially responsible political party, we have to be answerable to everyone, including those who are unemployed and hopeful about the prospects that a casino in Singapore would bring to them.

There are two main objectives in wanting to build a casino.

1) To earn Tourist money with little Social Cost. The most successful casinos are those who attract more foreign patrons as compared to locals. 80% of the patrons to casinos in Nevada are foreigners or from other states. Only 20% are locals. Similar composition applies to casinos in Macau.
2) To curb outflow of local gambling money. It is said that Singaporeans have gambled away US$900million in casinos worldwide. It is thus the primary reason why we want our own casino to capture part of this gambling money.

I would like to present the three main perspectives (apart from the moralist stand) that we think that are appropriate to address the casino issue.

1) Social Cost & Economic Benefits Analysis (The one in Yellow boxes)
2) Economic Viability & Problems (The one in Blue Boxes)
3) Dynamic Analysis (The one in Red Boxes)

Free Image Hosting at

The most common argument arises from the first perspective: Social Cost & Economic Benefits Analysis. It is not an easy analysis to start with. Our well paid ministers and civil servants have chose to sidetrack away from this analysis simply because social costs and economic benefits are difficult to estimate. How do we actually quantify the cost to society when someone takes his own life due to debts derived from casino gambling?

We should not take our citizens as mere digits. They are our brothers and sisters sharing this same piece of land with us. But it is inevitable for us to use statistical findings to counter those proponents of casino as they only understand “facts and figures”, nothing else. I will refrain from presenting all those mind-boggling statistics but concentrate on the findings and conclusions.

The fundamental root of Social Cost is addiction to gambling. Professor Gary Loveman, CEO of Harrah’s Entertainment, one of the key players in the US gaming industry, said that, “If 100 Singaporean residents walk into a casino, they are not equally likely to become addicts. In fact, virtually none of them will ever become addicted, because psychiatrically, they’re just not predisposed to addictions.” (This is reported in Business Times 8th Jan 2005.) I beg to differ. I would like to demonstrate how addiction arises out of gambling. People gamble because of greed, no matter how little there is. When one gamble, you either win or lose. When you win, you would think that lady luck is with you and you will want to win more. More greed, more gamble. If you lose, you are annoyed and think that you could win back what you lose. So, you continue to gamble. When the frequency of engagement on the gaming table increases, the attachment on winning more or winning back increases. Thus, no matter you win or lose, you will develop intense attachment to gambling. It is true that there are people who are more resistant to addiction but most people would fall into gambling addiction with intensified enticing through the gambling process.

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This addiction is one of the biggest sources of income for casinos. According to the “National Gambling Impact Study Commission Report” commissioned by the US government, more than 30% of casino revenues are generated from problem and pathological gamblers.

Gary Loveman also said that there is only about 1 to 2 per cent of the casino customers will become psychologically addicted to gambling. This is inaccurate as in the NGISC report, it is reported that there is about 1 to 2 percent of TOTAL ADULT POPULATION in US that are considered to be pathological gamblers. Pathological gamblers are individuals with very serious mental disorder in terms of psychological addictions. There is another category of problem gamblers whom may not suffer grave mental disorder but yet are potential source of social problem and cost. If we take this group into account, the potential size of problem and pathological gamblers is about 5% to 9% of TOTAL ADULT POPULATION. More importantly, NGISC felt that they might have underestimated the real situation when it is expected for respondents to hide their gambling problems.

There are more interesting findings from NGISC:

1) If there is a gambling facilities or casino within 50 miles of the community, the incidence of problem and pathological gamblers are doubled.

2) Seven of the nine communities investigated stated that the number of problem and pathological gamblers increased after the introduction of nearby casino gambling.

3) Male, young people and those with lower educational level are more prone to become problem or pathological gamblers.

The problem of gambling addiction manifests itself by affecting those surrounding the problem or pathological gamblers. The multiplier effect is believed to be 4 or 5. This means that more than 20% to 30% of the population would be affected.

There are studies that tried to quantify the social-economic cost into dollars and cents but most of them are deemed as understating the cost. There is one study done in 1998 which come to a conclusion that on average, the social cost is about S$20,000 per compulsive gamblers per annum. This is a very conservative estimate but when applied to Singapore, it may cost as much as S$0.7 billion to S$1 billion of social cost per annum. At this moment, I must say it is really inhuman to quantify human sufferings into dollars and cents but we have to do it for argument sake.

The PAP government has never refute the fact that casino may impose great significant social cost. It has instead tried to divert public focus to our own maturity. When that failed, they have chosen the path of moderation by coming up with a list of safeguards. It would be very unattractive to casino operator if we ban Singaporeans from Casino. There are casinos in Korea that banned local Koreans but they barely survive. Thus, to the government, the next second best solution is to impose safeguards.

Imposing safeguards may compromise our second objective of curbing the outflow of gambling money. Furthermore, the safeguards may not be effective at all. If one has to pay to get into the casino, it is natural for one to “optimize” his stay in the casino! That may result in more gambling and create more problem or pathological gamblers in the end. How to execute these safeguards in practice would be a challenge to both the authority as well as the casino operator. The safeguards are unlikely to be sustainable. Would the government promise not to relax the safeguards even when the whole casino-integrated resort start to lose money? Most likely, with government vested interests in the whole project via GLCs, it would be forced to relax such safeguards ultimately.

One school of thought argues that the casino-integrated resort will not be beneficial to us simply because it would cannibalize on our local economy and create problems. Monies that might have been spent on other stuffs would have end up in the casino. Tourists would have spent less on local retail outlets. Singaporeans have already spent one of the highest per capital amount on convenient gambling. The casino will aggravate the situation further.

If the casino-integrated resort provides free or subsidized hotel accommodations to its patrons, existing hotels and hospitality sector ‘s business would definitely be affected.

There are research done in US that put doubts on the economic contributions claimed to come from casino. It is not difficult for us to believe that the initial investment would make contributions to our economic growth. However, in the long run, this may not be the case when the casino-resort cannibalized on other sectors and cause loss of productivity by creating problem or pathological gamblers. Work ethics may be adversely affected.

More importantly, casino will create some economic-financial problems to the economy. Money laundering will increase and the casino would become a great place for briberies to be channeled effectively. Loan sharks business will definitely enjoy a boom while bankruptcies will increase. These are the potential negative externalities of having a casino here.

The viability of the Casino-integrated resort will depend heavily on the projected regional economic development as well as how our neighboring countries react to our set up. There is basically no entry barrier for any countries to build similar Casino-integrated resorts. We will lose our niche if our neighbors so decide to build their own versions of Casino-integrated resorts in one of their renowned tourist spots. And if that happens, we will face a big problem as demonstrated in our dynamic analysis.

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Our neighbors will be attracted by the very same reasons as we did, to go into casino business as they will not stand there and do nothing to stop all the gambling money coming to us. As we know, the Casino integrated resort is a high stake and high-risk project. The non-gambling attractions may not be economically viable without the cross-subsidies from the casino. We may end up losing money when our neighbors decide to compete with us. They have the inherent endowed advantages with many tourist spots available in their land. We may be forced to do away with all the safeguards so to make up for the lost revenues and thus the social cost burden on the society will increase tremendously. If not, our billion-dollar investment in this Casino-integrated resort will end up bleeding us to death. As shown in the slide, the Nash equilibrium will mean that we all end up as suckers. It is the casino operators who will gain all. This region is considered as a new territory for the gaming industry. Are we stupid enough to allow ourselves to be used by the gaming industry as the thin edge of the wedge to open up this region as their new market? I hope not.

I have just provided a summary of most of the points that has been brought up by the anti-casino camp. My conclusion for the above points is very simple.

If anyone talks about Freedom of choice, about how matured citizens on this land would deal with a casino, he has missed the point totally. Nobody is curbing anybody's rights to gamble in a casino. You could just take a boat trip to Batam or just get a ticket onto the cruise to nowhere. This is never an issue at all.

The argument against casino made here is not from a moral point of view. The moral perspective is merely a small part of the whole argument. The biggest issue is that after we have invested billions of dollars into this venture and eventually find out that our neighbours will outdo us, we will have no choice but to open up the casino for Singaporeans in order to get your investment sustainable in the long run! That's the problem. When that happens, casino will become the parasite industry of Singapore.

It is simply not possible for us to be "MORE ATTRACTIVE" to tourists with a casino in Singapore. People would rather go to HK's Disneyland then take a short boat trip to Macau. Even Bali in Indonesia would be a much better place to build casinos! There are just too many tourist attractions in Indonesia and Malaysia where they could build casinos to make them more attractive! We will lose out in the end and we will become suckers eventually. We will be stuck with a multi-billion dollar Casino-Trojan horse that would require us to sell our soul in order to save us from bleeding big. More families would be affected adversely, more people young and old would suffer in silence or agony.

Gambling will erode the moral fabric of our nation. Our people must be taught that wealth is accumulated through hard work, not via lady luck. If PAP government think that they could do a quick fix to their dismay economic performance in creating jobs by building this Casino-integrated resort, they would be making the biggest honest mistake ever. They are just simply putting the whole nation’s welfare as a stake on the gambling table.

Goh Meng Seng

Workers' Party Stand on Casino

Workers' Party Policy Statement on the PAP Government's Casino Proposal
7th April 2005, Singapore

The Executive Council of the Workers' Party, after reviewing opinions from a Public Consultation Exercise held on 5th March 2005, numerous feedback, its members, surveys of other countries and cities with Casinos and viewpoints by various groups and deliberating on the pros and cons of the proposal has decided to reject the government's plan to include a Casino in its call for an Integrated Resort. It rejects the proposal for the following reasons:
To date there is no clarity to what negative mid and long term impact the Casino will have on Singaporean society. The Workers' Party notes the adverse effects of gaming in our society with the current proliferation of gaming outlets in Singapore. There is no conclusive study done locally on the scale of impact that gaming has on family and society. However, based on feedback and news reports, there are obviously negative consequences. The Workers' Party believes that setting up of Casino will further aggravate the situation. The government should make a comprehensive study of the social ills caused by current gambling activities and present it to the public for a balanced judgment on whether a casino is desirable for the society.

While various measures to restrict Singaporeans from gambling at the proposed Casino have been mooted in an attempt to persuade Singaporeans that the social costs can be contained, even the Prime Minister himself, by announcing that social costs would be managed by setting up a centre to treat addiction, has implicitly acknowledged that addictive gambling will be a problem.

Moreover, any measures to curb social costs are subject to changes in the future with possible intense competition from the region. There is nothing to stop the government from making a decision to drop all safeguards in order to be more competitive, with a claim that the society is mature enough.

Due to the smallness of Singapore, the casino will remain physically accessible to Singaporeans. The compactness of Singapore with high density of population means the whole population is in the immediate ?catchments area? of the Casino. Unlike countries with bigger geographical area, there are no other ?cities? in which Singaporeans can choose to raise a family while staying clear of from the influence of a Casino. There is a risk that the attraction of ?integrated resort? sugar coated to be a family entertainment centre will attract both parents and children to the same venue known for its gaming culture.

The economic benefits cited as being linked to the Casino have not been convincing, as it is not clear how long having a Casino with integrated resort will put Singaporean in an advantageous position in tourism, nor the extent to which Singaporeans will benefit from job creation. It is also not known how having a Casino will affect Singapore's reputation as a country known as a good place to ensure family values and bring up children. The Workers' Party does not want the international community to identify Singapore as synonymous with Casinos and gaming.

That the Casino is not a life and death issue as the Casino should not be the only solution for the economy. PAP ministers who are paid world-renowned high salaries should be able to come up with a better solution for the economy.

Casinos would breed new opportunities for sophisticated crimes such as casino-related fraud and money laundering. The Workers' Party observes that the authorities such as the Monetary Authority of Singapore are still working on tightening anti-money laundering measures generally, and whether these would be adequate to prevent Singapore from being a centre for money-laundering when the casinos are operational is still not known.

The Workers' Party notes that a broad cross section of Singaporean society is concerned about the negative effects of having a Casino literally at their doorsteps. Yet the PAP Government has refused to allow Singaporeans to exercise their right to decide on having a Casino in Singapore through a referendum. The PAP government has also refused the challenge by the Workers' Party to make the proposed Casino an election issue. Even PAP MPs have not been allowed to vote according to their conscience in Parliament.

The Workers' Party reminds the PAP that receiving a mandate to form the government in general elections does not mean the PAP can do what it likes, especially on matters which would impact society in fundamental ways and when there are strong reservations about the Casino from many sectors of the community. In taking a path which many do not feel comfortable with, the government should allow Singaporeans to express their view by choice and not merely pay lip service to getting feedback by encouraging people to participate in discussions, only to decide on the issue by itself.

At present times the Workers' Party feels it is prudent to get a more thorough understanding of the negative effects of gaming already in Singapore instead of hastily deciding on proceeding with a Casino.

The Workers' Party repeats its call to let the people decide directly on the matter.

James Gomez
2nd Assistant Secretary-General
The Workers' Party

Hindrance towards Alternatives

Most people would think that the main hindrance against the growth of Alternatives is from PAP. It is true in a sense but individuals within the Alternative camp might pose a greater hindrance to our growth.

I happen to read the following article from SFDonline and I must say, this guy Lim Khee Boon seems to write as an "insider" of Workers' Party but I have checked with the veterans, nobody seems to remember there is a member named "Lim Khee Boon".

Anyway, I joined the party during the post-JBJ era and I have no idea what the mini-details about the whole saga. But from some of the veterans' accounts, I do understand some of the basics going on. However, I could see there are alot of inaccuracies in the above letter to SFD online. First of all, it claims that "Hougang celebrates only Chinese festivals. Teochews get preferential treatment at the Town Council". This is an obvious inaccuracy. As far as I know, We do organize events like Deepavali and Hari Raya Malam Aidilfitri. These events are archived at

It is only in 2003 and 2004 that we lack manpower and we have missed Hari Raya celebrations. But Deepavali was never missed. The Town Council has never side Teochews. In fact, second to the General Manager, is a Malay lady.

Another inaccuracy is that WP leadership is unwilling to take burden of the defamation suit. JBJ, as the Chief editor of the Hammer, should shoulder higher responsibility of the suit. PAP MPs did sue WP CEC and they actually wanted to wind WP up. But due to international pressures, they have refrained from doing so. If WP is unwilling to shoulder the burden of the defamation suit, it wouldn't have reached an out of court settlement with JBJ.

This malicious letter's intent is pretty clear. Its target is aimed at Mr. Low TK. Why is that so? Who else would be interested to target Low TK if he is not a party member?

It is an open secret that agents have infiltrated the opposition political parties, Workers' Party included. We may not know who these guys are but I think their agenda is pretty clear. Knowing Mr. Low personally, I find him sincere in his approach to politics in Singapore. This is fundamentally why I joined WP. This is also the fundamental reason why many other young blood decided to take the plunge into this thankless battle.

If we look at it objectively, WP under Mr. Low has attracted far more people per year as compared to any other political parties. WP under JBJ was stagnant. Though many admire his fighter's spirit, but not many are willing to stand beside him to fight the battle. I for one, admire his fighter's spirit, but wouldn't even think of joining WP if he is still the Secretary General.

Joining opposition politics is just like doing National Service. Would you risk your life for it? Of course, there will always be risks involved but we only wish to take calculated, managable risk. We are not ready to become "heroes" unnecessarily.

The image projected by the "Opposition Fighters" has in fact put off many people from joining the alternative platform. It is impossible to have renewal process when you have projected a "sure die" image.

In alternative politics, there is a danger of being subtlely fanned by those around you. They might be agents or just plainly emotional, but they do sometimes sway opinions within the party. One will need alot of independent thoughts to hold your own ground but at the same time, be open to new ideas. It is a delicate position to take; there is just one fine invisible line in between which we must make our judgement carefully. We do not have a big margin for error.

Goh Meng Seng

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

The Void Deck Interview

The Void Deck interviews Goh Meng Seng... eh? Who is Goh Meng Seng? He is from the...(drum roll) Workers' Party lah! The kaypoh Void Deck ppl poke its big pimply nose into where it does not belong. hehe On Sunday March 6th, New Paper published the report about Workers Party - 'Politically bochap? No, says Workers' Party yuppies'. The report very short niah and as we all know, local newspapers got not enuff space lah, muz prioritise wat they think we should read and know lah, and only dramatise useful bits etc. we cannot believe that everything was captured. So we interviewed Goh Meng Seng and asked him wat really really happened so that the guys at the Hammer can give their side of the story....hehe

Kaypohs: You tio protrayed as a merely a "disgruntled Cheng San voter". From a reader's pt of view, New Paper like making you seem as if you join politics only because you tulan cannot vote? Is there more to it behind your decision to join opposition politics?

Meng Seng: I think the reporter is just making a catchy angle out from the two hour interview. To be exact, Cheng San was not the primary reason that make me join WP else I would have joined back in 1997, not 2001.1997 elections actually made me want to plan for emigration out of Singapore as I do not want my children to be poisoned with the immoral pork barrel politics of HDB upgrading.It was in 2001, on the run up to polling day, one PAP veteran in one heated argument over internet forums (soc.culture.singapore) has questioned me why I want to support the opposition parties that have no working faculties at all? This made me think hard and I come to the conclusion that I either shut up, pack up and emigrate or I join one credible alternative political party, contribute, make a difference and make it work. I didn't chose the easier way out and I finally signed up WP membership during the heat of GE2001.

Kaypohs: What is your view on GRC? We at The Void Deck suspect that the gahment plans to set up a 20-MP GRC criteria real soon to outwit outplay outlast the opposition. Do you think it is our crazy idea or if the ruling party is unchecked soon, it might happen one day?

Meng Seng: Anything is possible but I doubt PAP will want to do that. Too high a stake; the present 6 member GRC is managable even for "freak results" to happen. ;)

Kaypohs: Brudder, you damn on in the Internet increasing WP support among Sgporeans despite the attacks against you in some forums. Do you think Sg will be like South Korea where the reformists elevated a new era in Internet campaigning with Roh's successful election as president? Do you think WP has a role to play in the Internet to push for a "better more mature political system"?

Meng Seng: Objectively speaking, WP website is one of the better managed political party site. I do believe that with the present situation in Singapore, internet is one of the viable option left for our public outreach.My presence (with some of my comrades) in internet forums is not without political risk. Our opponents will definitely use our exposures to study our mental profiles and try to use them to their advantage. And if we did not perform well in internet forums, the outreach may just backfired as experienced by others.With FACTS' recent petition exercise over the internet, we could roughly guadge internet activism of fellow Singaporeans. 27,000 is merely 0.9 percent of our total population. But hopefully with the multiplier effects, the potential of the outreach effort would be much bigger. We are risking wasting our time and effort which will bring us little returns or effects but we are willing to try it out. So far, I am pretty satisfied with the present development as we are able to recruit people to help us actively in research work or policy studies.However, I seriously doubt Singapore could be changed from the internet perspective. But we will still try our best. Ground presence is still the more effective ways to move things and garner votes to initiate change to the political environment.

Kaypohs: What other issues and information did the New Paper leave out in your interview? Did they oso miss out information from Ti Lik and Wai Leng?

Meng Seng: They miss out the most important message that I have for my peers out there. Singapore is no longer an "immatured" society with a underdeveloped economy. Our people has one of the highest literacy rate in the world and they are matured to decide on the nation's political future. There is this unwarrented "FEAR" in PAP of losing more seats and they are basically kiasu. We deserve a better, more matured political system than what we have right now. And we won't get it if we don't fight for it. It is our call, not PAP's.

Kaypohs: Any comments you want to add. hehe Nothing defamatory hor otherwise we oso kena hoot jialat jialat.

Meng Seng: I think the TNP has put up a positive article on us overall. Admittedly, I am more frank and sound more like "smarting" especially when I comment on theresponsibilities that the mass media has to take, in opinion moulding that cause the cynism in Singaporeans towards "opposition" parties.I specifically say that I detest the general "label" that mass media has put on us, "opposition" which makes us an easy target when some members of other political parties made mistake. It is never about "so and so of that party" but instead using "opposition member so and so". The word "Opposition" has a negative connotation. That is why I prefer "alternative", or best, use the party name as far as possible. I think that is why the headline reads "Politically bochap? No, say Workers' Party yuppies...." instead of "Politically bochap? No, say Opposition yuppies".What I merely ask is for the media to be FAIR to us, not even asking them to side us.

See Guai Lan10.03.05


For so many years Singapore has been deprived of a real alternative to PAP government. What's wrong with that? Many will ask.

Political failures may just occur, just like any companies around the world. We have witnessed the sudden fall of Enron which put too much power onto too few people. We have also witnessed the abrupt fall of China Aviation Oil in Singapore, due to some stupid mistakes made by a few individuals. Big companies could fail suddenly, so could Singapore Inc.

Theoretically, PAP will tell us that voters could vote them out if they failed. However, where are the alternatives for voters to choose from? After decades of suppression and deterrence of the natural growth of alternative politics, PAP has deprived the voters the vital choices available in most democratic societies.

PAP might have provided good leadership in the beginning, giving us good growth and prosperity, but this is nothing "GREAT". "GREATNESS" is not derived from providing material well being to citizens as a government. What is "GREATNESS" then? The founding fathers of United States has written a constitution that in fact, put a check on their own powers. That's "GREATNESS"; when you have power, you are willing to have it checked and balanced. You are thinking of the well being of the Nation beyond your own self. That's Greatness.

Thus, if people ask me if PAP is "GREAT", I simply say no. They are not looking forward, for the betterment of Singapore BEYOND THEMSELVES.