Friday, December 16, 2005

Freedom is NOT FREE

Freedom is NOT FREE

Most of the time, people take for granted many little important but seemingly "insignificant" things around them. This complacency is especially glaring in the midst of the great debate over the insignificant fine over NS defaulters. Those who have not gone through National Service have such a "no big deal" attitude, so much so to the extent of belittling the whole process.

Our Freedom as a Nation depends on the many sacrifices of many people in the National Service and regular arm forces. The issue of the NS defaulter's case is not about dollars and cents but rather the insult to those who have made sacrifices to grant us the Freedom and Sovereignty as a Nation. It is of course partly the case of emotional imbalance but it is also the values we are cultivating in the process.

Similarly, people are taking their freedom in our democracy for granted. In many occasions, there are people would approach me and say WP should contest in this and that constituencies. I could only smile at them. I ask them, are they willing and prepared to come forward to contest in those constituencies themselves? If not, are they willing to fork out money to sponsor such teams, with their name and I/C numbers stated beside the amount of money they have donated to the party? By then, they would have been speechless. If not, are they willing to come forward to help out on the background, even without the need to sign up party membership? They would say no time, too busy.

It is interesting to note that some people have always asked us about why they have to pay for our Hammer publication or pay for our manifesto. Freedom is not FREE my friend! There are already so many people making sacrifices to provide you the choice and your right to vote, what else could you ask for? Yes, by all means, if you could ill afford to pay for our publication, you could well "opt out" of the purchase. We could understand that, as many Singaporeans have either lose their jobs or taken hefty pay cuts in one way or another.

Our existence as an alternative political party is meaningful to each and every Singaporeans as it is a way to manifest the Power of the People: When you have a choice, you will have the Bargaining Power. But this platform is shouldered on by many people's sacrifices, in terms of effort, time, opportunities, family life, monetary contributions and many other forms. On top of all these, there is the important element of "risk".

One of my friend (just call him Alex for convenience sake) paid me a visit one day and we have dinner together. Alex is a typical middle class professional who is well educated and has a wonderful family. Our conversation naturally ended up with the concerns expressed on my involvement in "the risky business" of non-PAP politics.

Alex, being a good friend of mine, has always shown concerns about my involvement in "opposition" politics. First there is a question of "needs". Second, there is a question of worthy sacrifices one has to make. Third, the necessity of risking myself and most importantly, exposing my family to possible hardship just because I "go against PAP". I have asked a typical question that is always the talk of the town, "Have you thought of emigration out of Singapore before?" He said "No". I asked again, "Then your children will be living in Singapore?" "Yes", he replied. I said, "Do you think Singapore's present environment is good for your kids?" "Yes....." he hesitated. "The fact that you are concerned about I getting into trouble by merely taking part in the democratic political process, isn't that an unhealthy mindset behind it?" Paused.

I put it simply to him that if I am going to stay in Singapore and have my children live in it, I won't want my children to live in this very FEAR that almost every Singaporeans are experiencing. It would be totally irresponsible for me to subject my children to this exposure. Thus, this is the primary need to change the situation we have now for the sake of our children....not only mine, his children as well, all future generations of Singapore. I could choose not to do anything to it for the FEAR of the repercussions but who is going to make sure my children and future generations to have a better environment OUT OF FEAR?

Someone has to take the risks and sacrifices to make things better. Imagine that if our forefathers have chosen to keep quiet and stay tame in front of the colonial rulers, would we ever evolve into a Nation today? Many have sacrificed their money, time, blood and even lives for what we have right now. If we know that the present country that we have now is less than desirable or fall short of our basic expectation of a truly democratic country with true FREEDOM (from that erratic FEAR) for ourselves and our children, why wouldn't we change it, just like what our forefathers have chosen to make sacrifices to change their environment for us back then?

Yes, FREEDOM IS NOT FREE. And most importantly, FREEDOM has the element of free ridership in it. Everyone may want it, but all waiting for someone to get it for them.

I do not want my children to be caged by the very same FEAR that have arrested many Singaporeans' mind for decades. Most probably, the only most valuable gift I could give them is to fight for their liberation from this cage of Fear.

Are all these little sacrifices worthy? Freedom is priceless, though it is Not Free.

Goh Meng Seng


Anonymous said...

if gms duno eng i teach him its 2 the "extent" nt "extend" i "extend" a helping hand 2 him understand econs honours student lol

alamak said...

PAP also cant raise more than 5k without knowing who the donor is

Anonymous said...

wad? ur family in hardship? tot u doing v well got 2 shops n branch out 2 hk rite?

alamak said...

fear? what fear? thought slyvia teaching @ TP was she sacked no rite?

Anonymous said...

wah u crediting pap ar nan de nan de

Anonymous said...

Mr Goh the only PAP man tht u seem 2 hold in high regard seems to be Dr Goh K S any reason for tht? How abt other PAP leaders? LKY? Toh C C? Ong P B? Thks.

Goh Meng Seng said...

Dear Anonymous,

Dr. Goh is the main architect of our economic well being and for one, he is not power crazy.

If you understand the historic significance of development economics, you would understand that Dr. Goh is one who walks right in front of other development economist.

In the era of protectionism back then, Dr. Goh is one who really have the courage to try out untested trade theory which largely benefited us, as a small country economy.

While other countries are caught in the fever of protectionism, he has the foresight to lead Singpaore to walk a totally different route. Thus, our economic success for the past decades.

Most importantly, he does not request or require million dollar pay to do his job.

As an economic undergraduate back in the early 90s, I have the opportunities to go through many of his works, mostly govt publications as in White Paper. He is truly a genius, though also a human that could make mistakes. But if you ask me, I would say he has done more good than harm by his occassional errors to Singapore.

I would say that Singapore would not have achieved what it has today economically, if we do not have the dedicated service of Dr. Goh to this Nation.

If you really want to make comparisons, I would say that none other ministers back then, including LKY, could surpass the contributions made by Dr. Goh in all aspects of Singapore's development, be it building of Jurong Industrial Park, liberalising our tarriffs, to HDB, to our Defence ministry etc.

Goh Meng Seng

Anonymous said...

well so what the lta is gd the leader must accept his ideas what ultimately if the country fails whose fault of cos the no 1 man la rite. i think u lack political knowlegde PAP ministers salaries r always high in 1959 its @ 2600 but reduced 2 2000 @ goh suggestion dun believe me read lky memoir in 59 when things were going 4 cents dun u think 2000 is high? y u dun reply 2 others? if u can a million would u settle 4 300k? simple maths rite? u would nt rite? lol so freedom is nt free ar then y u ppl like 2 criticise ministers pay so much say it shld be national svc hor? self contradictory lol

Anonymous said...

oh ya hor if i m tony tan drawing 1 million in ocbc y shld i come in 4 300k? y shld i n get cursed n swear by ppl? if i yong p h y shld i be drawing 1/7 of my previous pay? make no sense @ all how come gms cant understand? lol

snowy_pearl said...

maybe he expect ppl 2 wk 4 free leh who knows but he says freedom nt free leh y ar toke things differently hor y he like this hehe god knows haha

LuckySingaporean said...


Yes, I agree with you on the importance of National Service. I wrote about that in my blog:

May I ask you a few questions its a chance for yourselve to express clarity:

1. What is Singapore defending against ...Really?

2. Do you think defence spending shoule be increased or decreased?

3. In view of the political changes in neighboring countries, globalisation, and closer coupling of does that impact our need for defense?

Goh Meng Seng said...

Dear LuckySingaporean,

The conventional thinking is that we must have a pre-set "potential enemy" before we talk about defence. This is basically a very backward thinking process. The main principle is that we should defend against anything, anybody, any organization or countries that could threaten or undermine our own soveriegnty. It may be our neighbours, it may be some countries far away, it may be some lurking organizations like the terrorist groups etc.

Even though Defence spending is necessary, we must spend according to our ability as a Nation. It should be managed or curbed at the maximum of 18% (preferably 15%) of our govt budget. At this moment, I think we have spent more than that. Over spending on defence will result in smaller amount of budget available for other ministries that could benefit our citizens like more healthcare subsidies, social welfare, education and such.

As a small nation, there is also limitation on what we could do in every aspect. We will work according to our affordability and limitations. Diplomacy is more important as the first defence line.

Goh Meng Seng

Amit said...

Singapore is a paranoid nation...

Why... thanks to Lee Kuan Yew's views and policies... read this:
'Lee Kuan Yew: Race, Culture and Genes' by Michael D. Barr


I would say no more....

LuckySingaporean said...

:::: The main principle is that we should defend against anything, ::::

GMS, you make me laugh sometimes. If we are defending against ANYTHING, then no amount of defense budget is enough. No effort should be spared. There has to be reasonable assumptions on what we are fighting otherwise how do we train our troops, how do we decide what equipment to buy, etc.

You failed not just to reply in concrete terms on a critical issue. Your fuzzy duddy thinking is exposed. How do you expect people to vote for you?

You say NS is important, we need to sacrifice for country, blah, blah blah...those are just easy sweeping statements to make. When it comes to policies and tradeoffs, everything as to be concrete.

We are defending against ANYTHING.....let me tell you, you have to try harder to earn my vote. Just because you stand doesn't mean people will vote for you....and people who vote the PAP are not stupid, they know what they are doing.

Anonymous said...

whats $5 to gms n ltk (businessmen) slyvia lim n poh l g (lecturer) chia t l (lawyer) these ppl quite rich rite so $5 to them is chiecken feed how wld they understand $5 can buy 2 meals maybe 2 them a trip 2 starbucks cost more than $5 while kopi @ kopitiam costs 70cents. once again what a world of diff!!!! lol

chemgen said...

- What is the balance between a credible technologically-driven SAF deterrence in the context of a peaceful ASEAN and a peace dividend? Is the MIW more into overspending or underspending now? Should we have bought the F15s in the first place?

Meng Seng
- Freedom is not free. It is just that Singaporeans want to outsource the quest for 'freedom, for various reasons, to others like partisan activists and politicians.

LuckySingaporean said...


That was what I was asking. In places where free trade and democracy dominates even smallest of nations like Luxemberg can exist as a sovereign nation without worrying about its bigger neighbors - they can just walk in and take over in 30 minutes....but they won't.

We have to make sense out of our defense spending - rationalise against the real threats to provide the BEST defense for Singapore. In addition, our neighbor(s) may be responding to our high defense spending and commitments. We can change the dynamics and derive great benefits.

I'm SO DISAPPOINTED by GMS's answer. It is so status quo - "lets defend against ANYTHING". Just like the PAP which continue spending billions in the same way because they are just following their own past trends and cannot cut down.

How am I going to vote for an Opposition that is merely see itself as tweaker of the govt. The govt can tweak itself, There are REAL QUESTIONS to be asked and fundamentals to be challenged.

chemgen said...

luckysingaporean - I too don't think any opposition can answer defence questions convincingly. They just don't have the qualified person for it. The big picture I suppose is that the opposition now, because nobody has stepped out to be counted as they say, is nowhere ready to form a shadow cabinet with alternative policies (but sometimes unfortunately opposing for the sake of opposing) like in the UK and Australia.

Back to the issue of freedom not being free, the opposition needs people of all background to survive as a particular party, but most of us just don't want to get our feet wet. There is this pecuilar fix, this Gordian Knot in Singapore politics and public participation.

HappyInOz said...

They've been telling us for years that Singapore's only natural resource is its people. Yet, the young men of Singapore are made to go through NS; true they mature into adults, but is it worth the sacrifice?
I personally did my NS, all 2.5 years of it. Countless weekends spent in camp, missing family members' birthdays, and at the end of it all, what did I have to show for it?
No university in Singapore would accept me save for those offering external degrees. Not even the unranked one which has sprung up in the CBD. Strangely enough, I managed to get into an Australian university ranked higher than NTU, almost as good as NUS in fact. I was disturbed by this, so I made a trip down to the two top universities in Singapore to have a look.
It seems like Singapore, modern and efficient that it is, corruptless government and such is no better than a third world country. The only natural resource in Singapore is being ABUSED.
Why are so many places in the universities granted to foreign students? (ungrateful ones at that)
Many young Singaporeans are waiting on a proper education, the only thing lacking is a place in university. Is this how our precious natural resource is to be treated?
I am lucky, lucky that I have the means to obtain an education elsewhere. Given a choice, I would much rather study in Singapore, but it looks like there isn't a place for me here.
In my opinion, Melvyn Tan made the right decision in giving up his citizenship. What he did was open a door to a future much brighter than one he would have had if he were still in Singapore. He is reaping the rewards now, just look at where he lives in the UK. I believe his success is also the reason why he was allowed back into Singapore with nothing more than a slap on the wrist. Do Singaporeans have to become successful overseas before they will be recognised here?
Mr Goh, what you are trying to do is noble, but futile. There is nothing you can do to challenge the PAP. As I roughly recall from a documentary somewhere, an ex PM once said
"if he wants to challenge the rule of the PAP, then we will come down hard!".
I, for one, am glad that I left the country. I will not be returning anytime soon because I no longer feel I belong.
A documentary once said that Singapore might become yet another city island, a brief flash of illuminance for 50-100 years, and then it will be gone.
I firmly believe that day will come.

Anonymous said...


You should be thankful that many places in NTU/NUS goes to foreigners otherwise you would not have gone to Australia to get out of this island.

NS means nothing to the regime. You get nothing but humiliation after that all the good stuff goes to foreigners and so called Foreign Talents.

Anonymous said...

where can get WP manifesto huh? how u all planning to sell it?