Saturday, March 22, 2008

Peaceful protests are part of life today

(Published - ST Forum. March 22, 2008)

I refer to Mr Paul Antony Fernandez's letter on Thursday, 'Advice to Chee: Don't waste taxpayers' money', which was written in response to last Sunday's report, 'SDP holds illegal protest against rising consumer prices; 12 held'.

I agree with Mr Fernandez that no government can appease all.

Nevertheless, a government should be willing to hear the concerns of citizens, as expressed through various modes of non-violent and non-threatening communication.

Citizens should be entitled not only to praise the Government, but also, to criticise it. Criticism should not be excluded from the domain of the media.

While most of us live a relatively 'trouble-free' life, as suggested by Mr Fernandez, we should not quickly dismiss those who are saddled with problems such as the rising cost of living. Mr Fernandez may believe a good government 'will do its utmost to ensure the majority are taken care of', but I believe a good government strives to take care of all its citizens.

We should rethink the notion of demonstrations in Singapore in the 21st century, and not let the ghosts of the turbulent 1960s haunt us.

History should be a lesson for us to learn, not a yoke or a pair of blinkers citizens are obliged to wear.

Ho Chi Sam

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