How Does Chee Soon Juan Support His Family All These Years?

If you read my blog, then you would know that I am not a fan of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP)’s CHEE SOON JUAN. Am mildly annoyed that he’s gonna be contesting in the BUKIT BATOK BY-ELECTION. No matter what some people tell you, Singapore IS a democratic country where you can vote who you like into Parliament. So yea, come 7th May, the residents of Bukit Batok will decide if we have to live with Chee Soon Juan’s antics in Parliament for the next few years *SIGHS*

What to do, it will be the will of the people.

Anyway, did you know Zaobao scored a mighty interesting (and quite telling!) interview with Chee some 5-6 years ago? In the spirit of fairness (or at least as much fairness as I can muster in this case), I should also let you know that he protested after the article was published. He claimed that the reporter had written about him through tainted lens. Go google for his statement if you’re interested, but basically he didn’t deny much or anything at all.

SDP's Chee Soon Juan at a lunchtime rally during GE2015 (Image source: TODAYonline)
SDP’s Chee Soon Juan at a lunchtime rally during GE2015 (Image source: TODAYonline)

Since he’s famously said these words during the GE2015 lunchtime rally last year, then it makes sense to share the 2010 interview since presumably, he’s still the same man.

‘Reputation is temporary, character is permanent’

It’s late already in the night and I’ve to work tomorrow, so I won’t translate the whole article, will just touch on the part that bothers me the most. Yes, it’s about the money, money, money.

 

Partial translation of the Zaobao interview

When asked if he regrets going into politics, he’d said, “Absolutely not. I’m not saying this to sound like some hero. I really do love teaching and research, that’s my first love. But to fight for democracy for Singapore, now that’s a bigger and more pressing mission. I have no regrets whatsoever.”

He was declared a bankrupt in 2006, and the family now lives in a three-room HDB flat in Toa Payoh. His wife HUANG CHIHMEI is a full-time homemaker and she takes care of their three children, aged 10, 7 and 5.

How does the couple support the family when both of them do not work?

If both husband and wife do not work, how then do you support the family? When asked about their sources of income, he said it’s mostly from the sale of his books, and they accept financial help from relatives occasionally too.

“We lead a simple life. Whatever extra resources I have, I put them into fighting for democracy.”

Rumours have it that he is funded by foreign organizations, and that is why he is able to carry on his fight for democracy and even engage in civil disobedience and other activities in Singapore without much worry. After much probing and asking, he said, “I’m an academic, and will sometimes receive funding from foreign sources. My books have won awards too, and I also participate in research projects overseas.”

Research of what nature? Are they about democracy? He remained vague and all he would say was, “Erm, maybe something like human behaviour.”

 

Look, this man has not worked for over a decade. His books and research work alone can feed him and his family for so mannnnny years? Really meh? Back in the earlier days (yes, when there was just the generation who remembers his antics), that many people would buy his books? Really really meh? Besides, award-winning is not the same as best-selling, right?

And, why so vague and reluctant to talk about the research projects he had worked on?

And the scariest part? He has not come outright to deny he receives foreign funding.

Did you know that there are liberal grounds, human rights organizations and bodies that promote democracy who GO AROUND THE WORLD FUNDING ACTIVITIES AND INDIVIDUALS LIKE CHEE?

This is a man who has long declared his life-long mission is to fight for democracy, and his past antics of going on hunger strikes, yelling at ESM Goh and shouting murder and rapists at LKY and PM Lee in court are all in the name of democracy… I would not put it past him to make this democracy fight his ultimate aim in Parliament.

Do we really want the Western ideals of total freedom of speech, of expression, and liberal rights… lock stock and barrel here? Are they really suitable for Asian societies? Who’s to say the Western ideals of human rights should be ours too? Is the state of their societies better than ours? And better by whose or what standards? Whoooo decides these standards? Seriously, if their system is so good, why are so many Western societies in so much trouble?

In my mind, democracy is relative and it’s a journey whose pace and ‘rules’ should be set by us, the Singaporeans. Not by some extremist who is funded by foreign sources. As a society, we shall decide where we wanna go, and at what pace we wanna go at. Whether we move more towards the left, the right, or stay centre, it’s really our own business. We don’t need no foreign groups to come tell us what’s wrong and what’s right. No. Just no.

Back to Chee, one nagging thought that bugs me is; Who, really, is this man? And if elected into Parliament, whose voice would he be representing? Do you really think he will be speaking for the residents of Bukit Batok? Or would he be the voice for his foreign masters, or whoever have been keeping his family and him alive all these years?

Don’t get me wrong. I know I am generally pro-establishment, but harlow, that doesn’t mean I agree with every damn thing that the G comes up with. And it also doesn’t mean I am for single-party dominance. Surprise, surprise, I actually think diversity in Parliament is good, provided the MPs are of certain caliber lah.

It’s not even the SDP I have an issue with, it’s Chee whom I cannot trust. The rules of foreign funding of local political parties are clear. The POLITICAL DONATIONS ACT bans political parties and organizations from receiving foreign funding. That’s for the very obvious reason of sovereignty. Small we may be, but we’re slave to no foreign masters and we make our own rules.

So while the SDP cannot and does not accept foreign funds, Chee as an individual CAN receive foreign funds for various reasons and purposes. Sure, maybe it’s for research, for invitation to give talks overseas, etc. But the sources of those funds he’s received, the uses of the funds…. and whether there are expectations, express or implied, that come along with his acceptance of the funds… we don’t know, do we? Look, I’m not saying he HAS accepted political donations, coz I have no idea.

But that’s the thing, nobody knows.

I don’t know about you, but it’s just near-unimaginable to me how the Chees can NOT work for years and years. I’m not the only one wondering, you know… Go read THE QUESTIONS that many Singaporeans have been dying to ask Chee.

 

Anyway, here’s a (sorta related) article from some years back about whether foreign activists should fund local civil grounds. Pretty good read, and whoa, it’s by The New Paper?! And, some of the people mentioned in the article have got SDP LINKS too.

TNP_20090726_1

 

Anyway, will leave you with a repost of the entire Zaobao interview.

 

徐顺全:现在是民主党30年来巅峰时刻

徐顺全,一个因官司不断而令大家似乎熟悉又很陌生的政治人物,其言行举止往往引来诸多议论。

新加坡民主党昨晚庆祝成立30周年,他加入这个反对党从政也已18年,人们脑海中至今还在问他当年到底有没有逼走一手创立民主党的波东巴西区议员詹时中?本报记者日前趁30年党庆,邀他作访谈,希望他能对读者的诸多疑问作出答复。

徐顺全:现在是民主党30年来巅峰时刻

游润恬 (2010-02-28)

针对大戏党网站(淡马锡评论)是由民主党幕后操纵,目的是打击其他反对党并提升民主党地位的传言,徐顺全矢口否认。他说:“我们不做诋毁其他反对党的事。”

民主党成立30年,巅峰时刻是什么时候?最低潮的时刻又是什么时候?

徐顺全博士(48岁)的答复似乎会让人们大感意外。他说现在是它的巅峰时刻。

“我相信民主党还没有达到真正的顶峰,不过到目前为止,现阶段必然是最光辉的。”

他表示民主党过去五年吸引了许多新人,党员的整体素质也比从前高了。这些新人不但可提供新的政治视角,还懂得善用新媒体进行宣传,使民主党可以做很多以前做不成的事。

五年前没有资源办25周年晚宴

比方说早在五年前,他就想举行民主党25周年晚宴,却因缺乏资源,只好打消念头。今天,民主党不但能在乌节路的凯煌酒店办30周年晚宴,还能出版第一本纪念特刊,80页全彩色印刷。

他认为最重要的是全体中央执行委员的团结。

“对他们来说,集体奋斗的目标,凌驾于个人理想之上。”

民主党在1991年大选时,一举把当时的秘书长詹时中(波东巴西区)、主席林孝谆(前武吉甘柏区)和蒋才正(义顺中区)三名候选人送入国会。自从詹时中在1996年离开后,民主党在国会里再也没有代表。照理说,上世纪90年代在詹时中领导下的民主党,应该已达到巅峰,徐顺全却认为那是最低潮的时刻。

“我加入民主党不到几个星期,就已感觉到党内领导人之间强烈的紧张关系。当时的民主党不是一个党,它从来就不是一支有共同理念的团队,只不过是一群同床异梦的人凑在一起。出现状况时,大家各有主张,要往不同的方向走,结果是树倒猢狲散。”

詹时中在1992年一手把当时在新加坡国立大学担任心理学讲师的徐顺全带进民主党,参加马林百列集选区补选。当时的总理吴作栋为了把现任副总理张志贤引进国会,而让马林百列集选区的议员集体辞职,以举行这次补选。

徐顺全竞选失败,隔年因呈报德士车资不实等遭国大开除。詹时中原本支持他,后来却动议中委会谴责他。党内其他中委不赞成詹时中的做法,民主党于是陷入分裂。詹时中跟着辞去秘书长职务。

徐顺全追述道:“当年他提出辞职的那场会议,是在我家召开的。过后的一个月,我三番四次上他的办公室请他收回辞职信,并表示他仍然是我们心目中的领导。”

尽管徐顺全如今这么解释,但不争的事实是民主党中委当时却做出了比接受詹时中辞去秘书长职位更为严重的决定——投票将他逐出党。詹时中一旦失去党籍,也将丧失国会议席,反对党在国会里也将少一把声音。我国宪法不允许议员在任内跨党。詹时中尽力保留党籍,直到1997年大选才离开民主党,转以新加坡人民党秘书长的身份竞选。

詹时中事后对外表示他是被徐顺全逼走的。

徐顺全辩称詹时中的“一言堂”作风,才是其他中委背弃他的原因。

“即使在林孝谆等党领导人眼里,詹时中的领导地位也是毫无争议的。不过,我们希望他能以更加民主的方式做事。”

他说:“直到今天,我仍对詹时中不怀芥蒂,还出席了他担任议员25周年的晚宴。如果在外头碰面,我也会跟他打招呼。”

詹时中在1992年把徐顺全引进民主党时,他一时被视为反对党的希望及一颗闪亮的政治新星。如今,被他取代的詹时中仍保住国会议席,自己却始终无缘进入国会。

问他如今是否后悔从政,他说:“绝不。我这么说不是为了逞英雄。我的确喜欢教书和做研究,那是我的初恋,但是为新加坡争取民主是一个更大、更迫切的使命。我一点也不后悔。”

他在2006年破产,一家现在住在大巴窑的三房式组屋。妻子黄志美(48岁)留在家里照顾三个分别是10岁、7岁和5岁的孩子。

夫妇没有工作怎么养家?

夫妇俩都没有工作,那怎么养家?询及收入来源时,他表示多数从卖书赚来,偶尔也接受亲戚朋友的接济。

“我们过着简单的生活。有多余的资源,我都会投入民主抗争。”

坊间流传他是拿了外国机构的资金,所以才能继续在新加坡无后顾之忧地进行公民抗争式的斗争。左问右问,他回答说:“我是学者,偶尔也领一些外国的研究基金。我的著作有时获奖,有时也参加海外的研究计划。”

哪方面的研究,是有关民主的研究吗?他含糊地说:“嗯,或者是人类行为之类的。”

“打不打算脱离穷籍这个问题不应该问我”

跟已故反对党巨人惹耶勒南一样,徐顺全也是因被政府领导人起诉诽谤而拖欠巨额名誉损失赔偿金,最终在2006年2月被高庭宣判破产,失去参加同年5月大选的资格。不同的是惹耶勒南生前无时无刻不在努力筹钱偿还债务,终于在生前脱离穷籍,还成立了新的政党,开始为参加大选部署。而徐顺全却不打算这么做。

他说:“打不打算还清债务以脱离穷籍,这个问题你不应该问我,而应该去问李光耀。如果他不怕我,大可行使债权人的权利把我所欠的债务一笔勾销。只要他不挡住我参选的去路,对我亮绿灯,我马上就去提出脱离穷籍的申请。”

民主党在2006年大选时的得票率是反对党中平均得票率最低的,徐顺全把这都怪到主流媒体头上。

他认为主流媒体刻意丑化他,以致至民主党在大选时的表现不如其他反对党。

“因为民主党提出有别于政府的可行经济方案,我们也提倡要对现有的机制进行大刀阔斧的改革,因此被行动党政府视为威胁,要把我们铲除。主流媒体也把攻击的矛头对准我们。”

下次大选将以网络作为主要竞选渠道

为突破主流媒体的局限,他声称民主党在下次大选时将以互联网作为主要的竞选渠道。

尽管如此,他还是认为民主党要在大选中获胜,必须靠主流媒体。

“我非常有信心,主流媒体如果肯公平地报道我们的想法和信息,民主党肯定可以把候选人送入国会。”

民主党的作风比较强硬,工人党的作风比较中庸。几年前一个对政党政治提出尖锐批评的“大戏党”(Wayang Party)网站出现,不客气地指工人党根本是在作戏,不是真正在搞反对党政治。

大戏党后来改名为淡马锡评论(Temasek Review),对其他反对党的批评也有所收敛,不过网主的身份依然神秘。针对大戏党网站是由民主党幕后操纵,目的是打击其他反对党并提升民主党地位的传言,徐顺全矢口否认。

他说:“我们不做诋毁其他反对党的事。”

那他跟其他反对党领袖的关系有多好?他表示虽不至于称兄道弟,但彼此都不时保持联系,也依然遵守不在大选时进行三角战的游戏规则。

党庆与众不同

时装秀、自助晚餐、没有上台敬酒的节目,新加坡民主党昨晚的30周年党庆,和其他政党大不一样。

民主党的老中青党员昨晚充当模特儿,上台摆姿势,展示党制服多年来的演变。图中红色有领汗衫是目前最新的制服。

许多重要反对党人物都缺席

约170人参加民主党在凯煌酒店举办的党庆晚宴,但许多重要反对党人物都缺席,包括创立民主党后另起炉灶的新加坡人民党秘书长詹时中、工人党秘书长刘程强、党主席林瑞莲、革新党秘书长肯尼思和国民团结党主席张培源。

往年反对党设党庆晚宴时,都会邀请其他反对党领袖一起上台敬酒。昨晚的民主党党庆,并没有出现这样的场面。

徐顺全大女儿单独上台清唱国歌

民主党的党庆还有一个节目是其他反对党的党庆没有的。昨晚开场时,徐顺全的大女儿徐安琳(10岁)单独上台清唱国歌,接着还念信约。新加坡早在数十年前就停止在活动开始前唱国歌的做法,一些与会者昨晚起初还愣了一下,不过很快地也跟着一起唱国歌。

徐顺全经常让孩子曝光,比如让他们陪他出庭,或到监狱外等候他出狱。他这么做,是不是为了博取同情?他日前受访时说:“没有我的家人的支持,我很难继续下去。看着孩子,会让我想起,我要留给她们一个怎样的社会,这给了我坚持下去的力量。”

《联合早报》
(编辑:梁嘉芪)

(Source: Zaobao + TOC)
(Source: Zaobao + TOC)

Related Reading
Straits Times article on the Zaobao interview
A Look at SDP’s 30th Anniversary in 2010
The BS is Strong in This One
Did I Just Blog about Chee Soon Juan Again?

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