Last night’s rally in Bukit Batok by the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) held a surprise — the appearance of veteran local TV and theatre actress Neo Swee Lin on stage, behind the microphone.
Though she was not an card-carrying SDP member, her support for the party has been notable this year. Decked in the standard red SDP uniform, the 53-year-old — known for her beloved role as Phua Chu Kang’s Ah Ma — delivered an emotional speech at the open field along Bukit Batok Industrial Park A, objecting against gutter politics displayed so far.
Neo and her husband Lim Kay Siu — fellow veteran actor and Phua Chu Kang’s Frankie Foo — have been known to be supporters of SDP, with Dr Chee Soon Juan writing about them in a Facebook post last month.
Her speech was warmly received last night, charming the crowd with wit and humour. However so, the highlight was about how she expressed sadness and shame over the People’s Action Party’s (PAP) vilification of Dr Chee.
“As an artist, I was so ashamed when I saw that my own Minister of Culture attacked Dr Chee Soon Juan personally,” she said. “Then my own Prime Minister did the same.”
She also read out an open letter which was signed by 31 people which included the likes of prominent lawyers, artists and academics — a list that included the likes of playwright Alfian Sa’at, the founders of The Online Citizen, director Glen Goei, and Amos Yee’s former attorney Alfred Dodwell. It is understood that the open letter has also been sent out to various mainstream publications including translated ones to Berita Harian, Wanbao and Tamil Murasu.
We’ve reproduced the letter below, and a petition against gutter politics has also been set up online:
We are a group of Singaporeans who have been following the progress of the current Bukit Batok by-elections.
We would like to categorically state that we do not condone the personal attacks and character assassination made by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob, and Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu, against Dr Chee Soon Juan of the SDP.
We are deeply saddened at the manner in which the campaign is run, having deteriorated to a level that undermines our Singaporean values. It is indeed a sad state of affairs when people who have been entrusted with positions of power and leadership perpetuate such unbecoming behaviour.
We want an election campaign that addresses the pertinent issues facing Singaporeans, rather than one that is marred primarily by the vilification of anyone’s person.
Alfian Sa’at, Alfred Dodwell, Andrew Loh, Ariffin Sha, Braema Mathi, Dana Lam, Fong Hoe Beng, Glen Goei, Goh Ming Siu, Howard Lee, Jasmine Teo, Jeanne Lim, Jolovan Wham, Kevin Ho, Kirsten Han, Lee Hui Min, Leona Yuen, Leslie Chew, Leslie Low, Lim Kay Siu, Lynn Lee, M. Ravi, Neo Swee Lin, Peter Low, Rachel Zeng, Ravi Philemon, Siew Kum Hong, T. Sasitharan, Tay Bee Pin, Terry Xu, Vanessa Ho, Vivian Wang, Yeng Pway Ngon