My friends and relatives were mostly surprised. Sure, I had posted many articles in the press expressing my opinion on just about anything I felt was worth bringing up as an active citizen since 1993. I have contributed in government committees and workgroups, reviewing policies and proposing new initiatives. Joining politics is a different thing altogether, and what more in the alternative camp to the ruling party since 1959.
My political awakening began in 1992 on my first overseas work trip to Tokyo. At the hotel corridor, I met an elderly American man who insisted that Singapore is a puppet state with no real democracy. I insisted we are a democracy with a right to vote those we want into government. He ridiculed me and I held my stand. We parted ways, none able to convince the other.
In the first presidential elections in 1993, I wrote my maiden letter to the Straits Times forum. I was the first to argue in the press for Mr Chua Kim Yeow to campaign seriously for the important post. He eventually did. Since then, I have had many letters published in the Straits Times and TODAY newspapers over a variety of sociopolitical, economics and education issues. As an industry expert, I have contributed actively in government workgroups and committees for education and infocomm, including REACH feedback unit. I have contributed in many diverse ways as a volunteer officer in the St John’s Ambulance Brigade and Boys Brigade, in my college alumni activities, gave talks at community centres, at schools, polytechnics and universities, and participated in many community projects here and overseas. I have sat as Advisory Committee member of schools.
In my political maturing, I am constantly led back to my first political debate in Tokyo where I had said we are a democracy and we could vote a person or a party out if the performance was lacking. However, we need good alternatives to exercise our votes effectively. In a true first world democracy, a strong alternative will provide long-term insurance to the ruling party should it falter in future.
I watched the LDP and Kumintang lose in Japan and Taiwan after a very long hold onto power. I realised nothing is forever. We are blessed to have a good first generation of leaders. This cannot last forever. PM Lee said if the PAP were to turn corrupt or incompetent in future, an opposition would rise. My experience tells me you cannot just form an organisation so quickly to respond to any such future situation. It takes a very long time to build up a credible system and to attract good people to join it. Having founded a start-up company that took on and won many bigger and better funded competitors in the education technology industry, I know the value of true competition. It forces the incumbent to improve or be forced out. It has been so in every business. Monopoly brings about complacency and dearth of innovation.
Why the Workers’ Party? I had observed the WP for a long time and am impressed by its patient build-up of a credible team to seriously challenge the ruling party. The party also matches my belief in offering alternatve views that are constructive.
I have experience in education, entrepreneurship and business. I hope to use these experiences to help make better alternative ideas for governing, and am therefore now an active particpant through the WP.