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Dr Paul Ananth Tambyah on the results of GE2015.

A first time candidate on the SDP ticket. But he’s not new to scene.

He had been seen around. He had spoken at a few civil society functions. People had heard of Dr Paul Tambyah even before Nomination Day. Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) unveiled Dr Tambyah as one of its candidates on 26 August — six days short of Nomination Day. He had been touted as the party’s high-profile entry much earlier in the year.

Given his credentials as a Professor of Medicine and a Senior Lecturer at the National University of Singapore (NUS), Dr Tambyah was set to inject panache into the SDP’s electoral campaign. He was fielded alongside party leader Dr Chee Soon Juan in Holland-Bukit Timah Group Representation Constituency (GRC).

They were a dynamic duo. During election rallies, they seemed to take the crowds by storm. When he spoke at rallies many listened — after all it was his area of expertise — healthcare. Despite this, the SDP lost. They contested in Holland-Bukit Timah GRC and Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC, Bukit Panjang Single Member Constituency (SMC), Bukit Batok SMC and Yuhua SMC.

There had been a nationwide swing for the People’s Action Party (PAP) which garnered nearly 70% of the votes.

What does Dr Tambyah make of the result? Whither opposition politics and civil society? Was he ever poached by other political parties?

SIX-SIX.COM Dr Tambyah speaks of a structural obstacle that restricts democracy, he candidly reveals the comments of friends and patients and he reflects on what made him turn to politics in the first instance. An interview with Dr Tambyah:

  1. What has it been like returning to your day job? What have the reactions of your colleagues and patients been? Does it feel like a return to normality?

It has been good. The reactions of patients and colleagues have been overwhelmingly positive. Most people I have met the last week claim that they voted for the opposition which is interesting!

  1. What are the lessons learnt from GE2015’s results?

The main lesson for me was in the structural obstacles which restrict democracy in Singapore. In particular, the billion dollar People’s Association (PA) which makes a mockery of the election process in that the losers of the election in Hougang and Aljunied get all the resources of the taxpayer funded agencies. In addition, the overwhelming power of the mainstream media and their online outlets is a huge obstacle to overcome — for example, the only debates that occurred in this campaign were on CNA and IQ and the IQ debates had a very small audience, less than 0.1% of the electorate.

  1. You have said that the knuckle duster era is over. So is the climate of fear also lifted?

The knuckle duster era was the one where opposition MPs were detained without trial — like Mr Chia Thye Poh. That era is over. The repression is far more subtle and sophisticated now. The climate of fear operates at a micro level as each voter goes to the counter, hears his or her name being called out while being stared at by his RC member — in PAP white. That is the same person who provides assistance for many schemes including schools, work etc. That has a powerful impact on the individual voter. For the candidates, the risk of detention without trial has hopefully gone.

  1. As a former member of MARUAH and a civil society advocate, what are the implications of the result?

I think that the results have highlighted the importance of civil society. The structural constraints are not going away easily. Civil society is going to have to step up to address the media imbalances as well as issues such as use of state funds by the PA for indirect partisan purposes.

  1. Were you ever approached by the PAP to join it? How about the WP? If so, what were your reasons for not joining them?

Ha ha- no! I think I am too independent minded for the PAP. I have many good friends in the WP but am more ideologically closer to the SDP. I was the Singapore Medical Association’s candidate for nominated MP a few years ago but did not clear the interview — apparently because of the lack of orthodoxy of my views.

  1. Dr Chee Soon Juan has indicated he is looking into a possible partnership between the SDP and the WP. Is there a role for such a coalition or would this be just a marriage of convenience?

I think that we share a common goal of a more democratic Singapore. We have slightly different visions of what that would look like. I do not think that a formal coalition is likely, a commonality of goals is more likely to lead to working together.

  1. Who was Paul Tambyah 10 years ago and who is he today?

Ten years ago, Paul Tambyah thought that he could work within the system to change things for the better for patients and the marginalised. Today, I think I am older and maybe a little wiser and perhaps a little more concerned about the growing inequalities in our society. I have also decided that the system is hard to change from within and that is why I went for the political route.

民主党荷兰-武吉知马集选区候选人

淡巴雅博士谈有关2015年大选结果

民主党荷兰-武吉知马集选区候选人淡巴雅博士是第一次在民主党旗下参选的。但是,这样的情况对他而言并不是头一遭。

其实他一直在我们身边。他在几个民间社团举行的活动时讲过话。大家在国庆日前就已经听过他的演讲。在提名日前6天,民主党在8月26日才披露了淡巴雅博士生该党来届大选的其中一个候选人。事实上,早在今年年初,他已经被民主党推举为党的知名度很高的领导人。

淡巴雅博士在新加坡国立大学享有医科教授和高级讲师的地位。他被民主党定位为民主党在本届选举运动中的一颗炫耀的候选人。他被民主党选定为与党的领导人徐顺全博士一道参与荷兰-武吉知马集选区的候选人。

这是一个双人重量级的组合。在竞选群众大会期间,他们是吸引成千上万的群众出席群众大会的中心人物。在民主党举行群众对期间,许多出席群众大户的群众都聆听了他有关对医药健保的课题,这是淡巴雅博士的专业。不论民主党在本届大选的成绩结果。民主党已经参与了荷兰-武吉知马集选区、马西岭-油池集选区、武吉班让单选区、武吉巴督单选区和裕华单选区的竞选。

本届大选行动党取得了近70%的支持票。

淡巴雅博士对于行动党取得了这样的支持票率看法如何?反对党和公民社会将何去何从?其他政党是否曾经接触过他?

《66网站》(SIX-SIX.COM )访问了淡巴雅博士。他谈到了民主局限性的结构障碍。他直率的披露了他的朋友和病人向提出的看法,他仔细考虑了他是如何让自己加入政治活动的第一个例子。

 

一、在您回到自己的工作岗位后的感觉如何?您的同事的病人的反应如何?您是不是感到一如往常的回到自己的工作岗位?

应很好。我的病人和同事对我参与本届大选都表达了积极的反响。我在上个星期接见我的病人时。他们都表示是投票给反对党的。这是让我感到兴趣的。

 

二、您对2015年大选的成绩吸取了什么经验?

就我而言,在新加坡最主要的障碍就是限制了民主。特别是人民协会在后港单选区和阿裕尼集选区竞选过程中撒下亿万元的金钱的在演耍猴戏。这是钱都是纳税人的资金。与此同时,主流媒体和他们的社交平台扮演着大肆渲染的权利。这是一个巨大的障碍必须清除的。例如,在选举期间亚洲频道举行唯一的一场辩论和测试智商。那个测试智商的参与辩论会的听众不到选民的0.1%。

三、您说过,关键的灰尘的世纪已经过去了。那就是说恐惧的时代也随着一去不复返了吗?

这个关键的尘埃就是一个反对党的国会议员在不经审讯下被监禁——如谢太保先生。这个时代已经结束了。现在使用镇压已经变得更加为微妙化和复杂化了。恐惧的气氛是在一个微观层次了——那就是选民走到投票柜台时,他/她的名字被选举官员喊出来时。那些穿着行动党白色衣服在场的居委会成员盯着他/她。这些人就是在学校和工作场所提供许多援助计划的人。对于个别一些选民这是一个极其强力的冲击。对于参选的候选人来说,相信那种不经审讯被捕的恐惧心理已经不再存在了。

四、作为一个过去自己是MURAH的成员和一个公民社会的运动者,本届大选的结果预示了什么?

我想,本届大选的结果已经对公民社会提出了显著的信号。这个社会结构的局限是不容易改变的。公民社会将要提出表明主流媒体的公平性,就如人民协会使用国家的资金间接为政党的政治目标服务的问题。

五、行动党是否曾经与您接触过?还工人党?假设有的话,为什么您不要加入他们的组织呢?

哈哈哈!我想,对行动党而言,我太过具有独立思考的思维。我有许多朋友在工人党。但是,我的理想与民主党比较接近。几年前新加坡医药协会曾经推荐当官委议员,但是我没有通过(他们的)面试——显然的,那是因为我缺乏正统的观点。

六、徐顺全博士已经提出,他正在探讨民主党与工人党之间合作的可能性。这是不是一种联合体(或称合并),或者是一直便利似的‘婚姻’?

我想,我们之间都有实现一个更民主的新加坡的共同目标。我们之间看来是有一些不同的观点。我不认为组成一个联合体(或称合并)的可能性存在。一个共同的目标将会引导我们一起合作。

 七、10年前淡巴雅与今天的淡巴雅有啥不同?

10年前,淡巴雅是想通过自己在体制范围内制度去改变一些有利于病人和被边缘化的人事情。今天,我想。今天我已经老了,或者有些长知识了、或者更加关注有关我们的社会日益增长的不平等的现象。我已经认识到,要在体制内去改变这个社会制度是极其困难的。这就是为什么我要进入政治圈里扮演自己的角色。

 

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