Monday, September 24, 2012

Open Letter to PM Lee

Dear Prime Minister Lee,

I am utterly disappointed to hear you saying that Singapore will have no problem to have a population of 6 million during your National Conversation exercise.

This disappointment is not derived from the fact that both of us are standing on the directly opposite positions of the political spectrum but the fact that we have such a distanced perspective and vision for Singapore as a whole.

I appreciate your effort in wanting to have a National Conversation with citizens and hopefully, it also includes opposition activists like me. However, I feel that what you and your ministers lack is not a Conversation or communication channel with Singaporeans but rather, the lack of empathy of the common people's life with different income levels.

This empathy cannot be gained nor learned through mere Conversation. This empathy could only be gained through the actual living of the commoner's life.

It may not be apparent to you but to many of us, Singaporeans, your plain assertion that Singapore can host a population of 6 million is the result of the lack of empathy, as the ruling elites of this land like you, have hardly experienced the actual hassle of living the commoner's life.

This mindset is commonly termed as "out of touch" by many Singaporeans but I would put it more specifically, as the the lack of empathy.

For the sake of Singapore's future, I would like to put aside my political standing and make this very important following offer to you. I cordially invite you to experience the common Singaporean living by spending one week, just one week with me and my friends in a HDB flat.

During this week of your stay, we will not take any private transport so that you will have the precious (because it is so rare to you) experience of taking the LRT, MRT and public bus to travel to your office.

There might be exceptions that we will take the taxi with you without your usual Traffic Police escort and you will experience on what it is like to wait for taxi and talking to a normal taxi driver.

You will experience the REAL Singapore with over 5 million population by visiting the neighbourhood shopping malls for dinner or just plain shopping without the usual staged or pre-arrangement of these places that you are so used to.

We will definitely make it as comfortable as it could be for your living though it is nothing comparable to the comfort of your own bungalow or six-star hotels elsewhere.

You will also have the opportunity to experience the actual size of a new 3 room flat built by HDB and decide for yourself whether the space is good enough for a family of 4.

Nothing beats the REAL experience of living as a commoner in Singapore, least about just a talk in your National Conversatoin.

I sincerely hope that you would take up my invitation to experience the Singapore Life of a commoner. There will be no pretence, special privileges or whatsoever but we will give all the due respect to you as a guest of the house.

Furthermore, I think it would be a fantastic opportunity for us to have our face to face talk over a cup of tea or coffee every night after your day of hard work. It will be an extraordinary experience for you to talk to the REAL people, opposition we might be, about our expectations, aspirations and visions for this country. This would be very very different from your daily meeting of your own ruling elites or those who would put up flattery and praises without reflecting the true feelings on the ground.

President Ma Ying Jiu of Taiwan had took the effort to go for Long Stay twice during his campaigning periods. Like all the good rulers in Chinese ancient history, he made various visits and even stay with the commoners in his vast country, so to understand and enhance his empathy of the ground people's lives.

I do hope that you, my Prime Minister, would take up this offer and opportunity to carry out a SHORT STAY with us so that we could show you the exact livelihood of a family of simple Singaporeans before you start to plan for the 6 million population for Singapore.

It will give you the greatest opportunity to understand why there are thousands and thousands or even million of Singaporeans sneering at your remark that Singapore is able to host a population of 6 million people. Nothing could make you understand such sentiments better than experiencing the common life itself.

Hereby, once again, I sincerely hope that you will give my invitation a serious thought and I hope to hear from you soon.

Best Regards,

Goh Meng Seng

After note: I have the consent of my friends to play host to the Prime Minister if the Prime Minister so agrees to take up my invitation to live with us for just one week. They are very eager and excited to be the hosts. We cannot fault the Prime Minister of being "out of touch" because he truly lacks the common experience that most of us share as citizens and HDB dwellers.

It is only fair to give him the chance and opportunity to share our experiences of common living so that he could make better policy judgement on the 6 million population target.