Is there a Singapore Alternative?

Dr Chee Soon Juan

Co-presented with the Sydney Democracy Network and the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre

10 June, 2014

Lee Kuan Yew once said “I don’t believe Singapore can produce two top class teams. We haven’t got the talent to produce two top class teams...We will wait and see – how constructive the opposition can be, or will be.”

In the last half-a-century, Singapore has been ruled, some say successfully, by only one party. But problems are beginning to show up in the city-state: income inequality is wide, social tension between the locals and foreigners is increasing, and the stress of living is causing many to emigrate.

Despite all this, is there no alternative in Singapore? Is it true that thecountry is too small to produce an alternative party and vision to the PAP? Indeed, how constructive has the opposition been and what lies in store for the PAP and the opposition in the next general elections?

Dr Chee Soon Juan, Secretary-General of the Singapore Democratic Party, will answer these questions and more in his Sydney Ideas conversation with Professor John Keane, Director of the Sydney Democracy Network.

Dr Chee Soon Juan

Chee Soon Juan is the leader of the opposition Singapore Democratic Party (SDP). He was sacked as a lecturer by the National University of Singapore when he joined the SDP and took part in an election in 1992. Chee was also censured by the Singapore Parliament and fined by a parliamentary select committee. He has been imprisoned more than a dozen times for repeatedly challenging the ruling People's Action Party's (PAP) curbs on political freedom.

Chee is the author of several books as well as contributed chapters in other books. He was Research Associate at Monash Asia Institute (1997), Human Rights Fellow at University of Chicago (2001), and the Reagan-Fascell Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy (2004). He is the recipient of Defender of Democracy Award 2003 given by the Parliamentarians for Global Action and the Prize for Freedom 2011 given by Liberal International. He was also awarded the Hellman/Hammett Writers Grant by Human Rights Watch. Dr Chee Soon Juan is currently a visiting fellow at the Sydney Democracy Network.