Singapura Pundit: An Open Letter to Roy Ngerng

Dear Roy:

Firstly, the Pundit would like to express sympathy about your recent unemployment. You must be going through a trying period now. On one hand, you do not want to disappoint your supporters, many of which are likely to be egging you to carry on your fight against a Government they perceive to be bullying and heavy-handed. On the other hand, some of the pro-PAP crowd are having a field day gloating over your sacking.

Since open letters seem to have become fashionable lately, I have decided to write one in the hope that you will come to read this through the network of Social Media. Some of the hardcore opposition supporters reading this letter will certainly see it as the work of a “PAP Dog/Troll/IB.”

But the truth is that the Pundit is an ordinary Singaporean who can identify with you. In those heady campaigns of 2006 and 2011, the Pundit saw the PAP government as an oppressive regime and believed that more Opposition parties were needed in parliament. At one point, the Pundit nodded along to the proposals of the SDP at their rallies, cheered for a “First World Parliament” alongside many thousands of WP supporters and rejoiced the night when Aljuneid turned blue. But a lot has happened (and failed to happen) since then and the Pundit’s opinion about the PAP and the Opposition has changed. But that is a topic for another day.

Please allow the Pundit to share a hard truth: Roy, it is hard to take you seriously. This is not to say that you do not have your supporters. After all, a few thousand turned up at the last protest to listen to you talk. But no matter how hard your friend Han Hui Hui spins it, this does not mean that the majority – or even a significant segment of Singaporeans – buy into your cause. Not even the majority of commentators on your blog seem to take you seriously. Just look at the spectrum of detractors, hecklers, supporters and crackpots slinging their views onto the walls of your blog. Some of your fans have pointed to the $81,000 (as of last count) that you have raised as evidence that the people are with you. The money is raised, as I understand it, from over 1,000 people. The day you raise funds from 81,000 people is the day you can reasonably boast of enjoying mass support.

While you do raise many valid questions about the CPF system, you have chosen to do it in an antagonistic way which makes you a demagogue. Demagogues can rile up some excitable people, but how long can excitement be sustained? At the end of the day, you will win the majority of Singaporeans (who are risk-adverse) to your side only if you are seen as a “safe bet”. For this to happen, you must be taken seriously.

You cannot expect to be taken seriously if you publicly accuse the Prime Minister of criminally misappropriating CPF funds only to concede, when challenged to provide evidence for your accusations in court, that your accusation was (in your own words) “false and completely without foundation”.

You cannot expect to be taken seriously when you and your supporters demonize this Government who, say what you want about its imperfections, was voted into power by the majority of Singaporeans. Posing for a photo with a child carrying a sign with rhetoric like “Roy Slays The Pink Idiot” and “Movement Against Dictatorships”? Seriously? This “idiot” has done more for Singapore than you and all your fellow dissidents put together. And if you cannot recognize this, it is because you have been blinded with emotion.

And since when is Singapore a “Dictatorship”? What type of dictatorship is subject to a process every five years, where it is possible for citizens to vote it out of power? What type of dictatorship would allow a website like “The Real Singapore” to heap insults on its ministers and ridicule its policies on a daily basis? What type of dictatorship allows its citizens to display anti-Government slogans at public protests? What type of dictatorship resolves accusations of corruption by challenging the accuser to furnish evidence of corruption in a court of law?

You cannot expect to be taken seriously when you claim that the Government has spent $0 on Healthcare, CPF and HBD. Surely, you must know that this is patently untrue. So why do you hawk such a lie to the public?

You cannot expect to be taken seriously when you demand the right to opt out from CPF and at the same time demand that CPF should conform to conditions that are in the realm of fantasy. For example, you want CPF interest rates to be tied to profits made by GIC or Temasek Holdings. But does that mean that when GIC and Temasek make losses, CPF interest rates should be lowered accordingly? You want the CPF to be returned to people but will you raise funds and pick up the tab when people squander their CPF money?

You claim that your dismissal is “politically motivated”. But looking at the Staff Values of Tan Tock Seng Hospital as stated on their website, it is reasonable to conclude that your recent behaviour has not exactly lived up to some of these values. One of these values is: “Clarity – we set clear goals/directions and work together to achieve them.” Which employer will value an employee who blurs the lines between his work and his activism, uses office resources for non-work related activities and continues to do so even after he has been warned?

Another TTSH staff value is “Dialogue – we dialogue with and give constructive feedback to one another and our supervisors in a safe and dignified environment.” Falsely accusing a fellow Singaporean of lining his pockets with CPF funds and gathering thousands to vilify him in degrading language was not dialogue. Another value from TTSH is “Respect – we respect one another as professionals and value each other’s contributors”. Endorsing the vilification of the PM – an elected official – as an “idiot” which you have “slayed” is not respect.

You cannot expect to be taken seriously by announcing your dismissal from Tan Tock Seng Hospital in the same breath as rumours that the ISD is coming for you. That was certainly a lame attempt to garner public sympathy which could only resonate with your dedicated supporters. But it is highly unlikely that the ISD would detain someone for questioning the CPF system. Statements like this – and the fact that you have not been detained – can only serve to damage your credibility.

Roy, the Pundit has no doubt that you are a patriotic Singaporean. You want the best for Singapore. But here is a radical proposal. Can you entertain the possibility that Lee Hsien Loong and his party also want the best for Singapore? Actions speak louder than words. This PM has dedicated his entire adult life to public service since his NS (that was in 1971 before you were born). This PM is not some hardliner isolated from his people in a huge palace, demanding that the masses worship his quotes and portraits. This is a leader who regularly meets his constituents, communicates with his citizens through Facebook and Instagram, mentions examples of ordinary Singaporeans in his speeches and has made policy changes according to feedback. You and your supporters may deride all this as “wayang”, but think about it: Has the PAP Government not done much to benefit people, in the past and the present? Surely, a party that has been voted into power in every election since 1959 must have done more than a little good for Singaporeans, right?

Roy, perhaps you and your supporters entertain some romantic notion of being a latter-day Robin Hood and his Merry Men, benefiting the poor by taking on the rich establishment. But the reality is that the interests of the vast majority of Singaporeans are tied to the system that you wish to dismantle. Singapore is not Sherwood Forest. We are a 21st century nation state with an electorate of 2.4 million voters in which you and Lee Hsien Loong belong to different ideological camps.

In a dictatorship, the government would have crushed your voice before you can even hop on a bus to Hong Lim Park. But since we live in a democracy, you are free to disseminate your ideas and assemble supporters to rail against some Government policies while at the same time benefiting from some of its policies.

In your recent speech at Hong Lim Park, you spoke about your wish for a new and united Singapore. I agree with your vision but profoundly disagree with your methods. Whipping up emotion based on simplistic populist slogans and misleading half-truths is not going to bring about a new and united nation.

You are young and you will recover from this and continue to contribute to Singapore.

Good luck with the lawsuit. Whatever the outcome, may you be well. Take care.

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