November 5th, 2007
For the past 13 years, my political commentaries had been published by the Straits Times. Some of them were transcripts of speeches I had made at government organisations such as the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies and the Institute of Policy Studies. It had both surprised and gratified me that Singapore’s leading newspaper was willing to publish articles that were critical of the government and that broached on sensitive topics such as the lack of political freedom in Singapore. While the first commentary titled ‘The Great Affective Divide: the Estrangement between the PAP Government and the People’ which came out in 1994, provoked an angry response from the Government, there had been no official response to my subsequent articles, which was rather disappointing to me, as I had wanted them to give rise to discussion and debate among Singaporeans.
In September this year, I submitted to the Straits Times a commentary on the same controversial subject of the need for a political opening up, which I cast in the format of an open letter to the Prime Minister, pointing out (respectfully) the dismal state of political liberties, the climate of fear, and the emergence of a politically compliant people, under his premiership despite the impressive economic achievements. I ended the letter with a plea to him to do something before it is too late.
The Straits Times rejected the article, saying that there was really nothing new in it. I subsequently submitted it to TODAY, which also rejected it.
As a result I am turning to alternative sources of dissemination, and am going online. For I think I have some important ideas to share about certain major issues in our society which could have serious implications for the future. It does not matter to me if these ideas don’t meet with agreement or even approval, but it does matter that they are shared with as many fellow Singaporeans as possible.
Catherine Lim has published the open letter on her new site, catherinelim.sg, along with other political commentaries she has written in the past 13 years.