By Teo Soh Lung | The opposition parties and activists

In Hong Kong, opposition parties actively support the young protesters, giving them encouragement, assistance and advice. They are by their side, assisting them and speaking up for them. They go on television in support of the protesters. Ms Emily Lau even took the trouble to go to the UN to champion their cause and London to speak on Hard Talk. In Malaysia too, opposition parties were involved in mass demonstration organised by civil society. They stood with them when tear gas and water cannons were fired. They went to jail because they stood up against injustice.

But in Singapore, where are the opposition parties? Do they exist? Do they speak up when civil society is under attack.

Where was the opposition when lawyer Ravi had problems with the professional body that was supposed to assist him and not persecute him? Where was the opposition parties when Roy spoke up for the thousands on CPF and got into trouble with the prime minister? Where was the opposition when Han Hui Hui, Roy and their supporters were harassed and interrogated for hours by the police? Where was the opposition when bloggers like Alex Au was charged for contempt? Did they speak up in parliament? Did they utter a word in support? Did they extend a hand to them?

All the news about political parties speaking up were about their own small trouble with ministers and ministries. What do you expect the opposition parties to do when they are maligned or suffer inconveniences? If they cannot defend themselves, who else can? Why should activists help them when they do not care about them. Is there anything commendable when they went to court to defend themselves for holding a trade fair?

But despite the opposition parties not standing up for activists, the latter are exceedingly generous. They went to their aid whenever the received news that they were bullied by some minister or other. The editors of TOC and TRE wrote articles. Their readers too wrote to support ad nauseum, as if the political parties had no voice of their own? Do they deserve such help when they do not stand up for civil society?

I don’t know. We better think carefully and watch what we do because no opposition parties are going to help us when we get into trouble. There is no more JBJs today. JBJ will mix with the crowd in Hong Lim Park and stand outside the Istana to protest against detention of prisoners under the ISA. He was charged in court for the protest but fortunately was acquitted. Today’s leaders of opposition political parties will never protest in public or in parliament! They will never stand up for activists!

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