Veteran Politician Chiam See Tong: Singapore Can’t Be United If Govt Keeps Discriminating

“But we cannot have united people if the Government discriminates against certain sections of the people. In a democratic country or society, we believe in free thought. We should be allowed to think as we like, whether we like the Opposition or the ruling party. But as it is, there is great discrimination from the first day I entered politics until today. At first, it was worse. The ruling party threatened that “anybody who supported the Opposition would get the facilities last. So if you stayed in an HDB flat, and if the lift gets spoiled and you get caught in it, you will be the last to be rescued, which is quite a frightening threat actually. I think the people should take it with a pinch of salt but, sometimes, such a threat can be quite frightening.

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With regard to transport, the MRT Station is built ready for use but the train shall not stop at the Opposition ward. Sir, I can remember those days very clearly. Fortunately, for us, the train did stop at Potong Pasir. Believe it or not, I wanted to plant one tree, and it was refused. I had told the story many times but I think it is worthwhile telling once more. In those days, the PAP was generous enough to give me a walled-up empty office space at the void deck. The public got to know about it. The owner of a flower nursery donated one exotic plant to me, and I believed he also gave one each to Mr. Goh Chok Tong and Dr. Tony Tan. Of course, I straightaway told him that I would be planting it in the constituency itself, and not take home to plant it.

Like a dutiful MP, I wrote to the Minister, I said, “Can I plant one tree in my constituency?” He said, “No. The planting of trees in the constituency has been mapped out by the Parks and Trees Division.” So I wrote to the Parks and Trees Division, “Can you please give me a map of the planting?” And they said they do not have such a plan. So I wrote to the Minister and I said they did not have such a plan. And their reply was through the HDB which said, “You cannot plant a tree there because the soil does not suit that plant.” I do not know how he said it was the soil. Did he make a test of the soil? Anyway, I stopped linking with him and I planted the tree in any event. Believe it or not, that same night, some hooligans came and pulled the tree out with the roots still intact and threw it in front of the office. I was really surprised. It was a good tree, and the Chinese name is supposed to be the “seven sisters” tree because they have fruits like gingko nuts. I suppose there are seven of them in a bunch. That was the treatment I got but we still persisted. I planted it in a big pot and it started to fruit, and somebody must have thrown a bottle of bleach into the pot and, sad to say, the tree of course wilted. I should have taken it home to plant it. Anyway, that is the story of the tree.

Sir, how can we have unity in our people if the Government behaves in such a way?”

– Mr. Chiam See Tong

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