Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chief Chee Soon Juan has criticised Social and Family Development Minister Chan Chun Sing’s decision to make scathing remarks about him on Thursday, adding in his response laced with sarcasm that Singaporeans “detest” the politics of mud-slinging.
Referring to Mr Chan’s description of him as a “political failure”, Dr Chee said unlike the “accomplished” minister who had risen quickly through the ranks of the army and assumed political office, he had chosen a different path that does not lead to “power, privilege and a high salary”.
“In this respect, Mr Chan is right — I have not succeeded. I have instead undertaken (the task) to speak up for the people of Singapore in what was, to put it mildly, a very difficult political terrain,” said Dr Chee.
“Nevertheless, I am proud of my achievements … But I want to sound him a note of caution: When we attain our goals in life, we should not look down on and criticise others who have yet to achieve theirs.”
The minister wrote to The Huffington Post on Thursday about their decision to publish two of Dr Chee’s articles — Without Freedom There Is No Free Trade and Free The Singapore Media And Let The People Go, printed on Nov 13 and Dec 11 last year, in which he criticised the Government for violating human rights through its trade processes and for its control over the media.
In the letter, Mr Chan also detailed Dr Chee’s lacklustre electoral performance against that of Mr Chiam See Tong — founder of the SDP who had been forced out by Dr Chee — and his dismissal from his lecturer post at the National University of Singapore for misappropriating research funds and other misconduct.
“It is because of these and other failings that Dr Chee is a political failure — not because he was persecuted, as he likes to pretend (to be),” the minister said.
Taking issue with Mr Chan’s sharply worded letter, Dr Chee yesterday said the ruling People’s Action Party’s (PAP) “outdated practice of stigmatising failure” troubles him.
He also hit out at the PAP’s “habit of engaging in the politics of name-calling and personal destruction”. “It is disappointing that the younger generation of ministers like Mr Chan has not set a new direction for the conduct of politics in Singapore, instead relying on that of a bygone era. How does calling me a failure help to solve the problems that Singaporeans face?” said Dr Chee.
“For the sake of Singaporeans, let us go beyond such an unconstructive form of politics that Singaporeans detest and graduate to a more mature level of contestation of ideas that the people deserve.”