A Teacher, Germain Heng, rebuts Chee Soon Juan ....
Hi Soon Juan
I am going to take some time to highlight to you some of the observations that you and the SDP have pointed out in your article, MOE Written Textbooks Are Even More Biased And Partisan Towards The PAP (http://yoursdp.org/…/dear_
I have vested interest in this as I am a Social Studies Teacher. These are purely my views that do not represent my fellow colleagues. I will respond to those portions pertaining to the Social Studies text. I cannot comment on the history portions as that is not my training. I will draw reference from the said Social Studies textbook (ISBN 978-981420884-0). Please also note that a new textbook and curriculum is currently being taught to the 2016 batch of Secondary 3 students.
Example 2: Photos and illustrations
You have pointed out a series of pictures which you have claimed to be slanted towards the PAP, most notably found on pages 26 and 147 of the Social Studies textbook.
In the former, the context of the picture is with regards to the need of government leaders to mingle with the community in order to learn of their concerns, and not so much as to point the student towards voting for the PAP.
The latter, found in the chapter Bonding Singapore, was used as an exemplar of how a GRC team has to be made up of a member of the minority race, in this case Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, in order to contest in an election so as to ensure minority representation in the legislature.
Example 3: Principles of governance
The picture, found on page 33, is a summary of what PM Lee Hsien Loong said in the National Day Rally Speech in 2004. I hardly will call reporting what he said as skewed, although it might have been watered down in order for our students, aged 15-16/17, to digest. Even you cannot deny the fact that it was your leadership that has allowed you to take the reigns of the SDP back in December 1996.
As with you highlighting Ministers and MPs like Phey Yew Kok, Tan Kia Gan, Wee Toon Boon, Teh Cheang Wan, Choo Wee Kiang, and Michael Palmer, their transgressions have been covered extensively in the papers, both the Straits Times and other platforms. I highly doubt if there are any restrictions on the students’ own reading.
Example 4: Representative democracy
Again, you have conveniently left out the context of the section, which is, I quote: 2.1 What is the system of government in Singapore? (page 26). Your argumentation and interpretation of what makes up ‘Representative Democracy’ is not the focus of the chapter, but the system that Singapore has adopted.
Example 5: The Pledge
This is found in page 134, also in the chapter Bonding Singapore. I doubt I have to elaborate any further.
Example 6: Healthcare
I hardly see this (page 72) as a rallying cry to support the PAP government. Rather, it is important for students to understand why government policies (or suggested policies), PAP or otherwise, needs support or else their legitimacy is lost. You of all people should know since your own alternative healthcare policies obviously did not get much support, as evidenced by the vote-share that you garnered.
Example 7: Foreign talent/low birthrate
You have missed the point of the quote (page 52). It was written to explain a way to boost population numbers. Even you cannot dispel the fact that no one country has monopoly over talents. Even the US has attracted talent from Singapore to work in their industries. I am disappointed that you did not point that out, given your extensive network.
Example 8: Media
You have pointed to the lack of discussion on the importance for dialogue and debate without resorting to violence. You might want to read a chapter earlier (Chapter 4: Conflict in Multi-ethnic Societies), where explicit effort was made to show how violence begot even more violence in both Sri Lanka and Northern Ireland, and how both countries suffered because of it.
And with regards to your often quoted gripe about the free press in Singapore, if there weren’t, yoursdp.org shouldn’t be in existence, together with many of the alternative news sites which claim to be neutral. We must remember that freedom comes with responsibilities, and this must apply to speech and claims made. You should know, since you seem to have a knack for misquoting statistics. Again, I don’t have to belabour this point.
Example 9: Self-help groups
The quote on the above, found in Chapter 5: Bonding Singapore, is presented in the context of the need for such groups to exist. The purpose of the text is to provide content for the basis of the Structured Essay Question. Critical analysis of the source is covered in the Source Based Questions, which allows students to analyse assertions made by political leaders and its reliability.
Your selective quote did not include the following paragraph (page 148), which goes on to explain how the different SHGs bring individuals of different racial backgrounds together, as is the lesson objective of this chapter.
Example 10: People's Association
Again, the content of this (page 149) is in the context of the aforementioned Chapter 5, which has nothing to do with politics.
Soon Juan, please do not politicise a subject that I truly love teaching. Social Studies is a subject meant to help young people develop the ability to make informed and reasoned decisions for the public good as citizens of a culturally diverse, democratic society in an interdependent world (https://en.wikipedia.org/
wiki/Social_studies). It DOES NOT serve as a political tool for students to make an electoral choice, PAP, SDP or otherwise.
I would strongly suggest you study the Social Studies curriculum in its entirety, and not make accusations against the textbook that I teach from out of context. The subject gives more than sufficient flexibility for teachers to deviate from the text, to train the mind of an active Singapore, and global, citizen. My fellow professional colleagues will attest to the rigour and commitment that we put in to sharpen the minds of our nation’s future. My own students can attest to the skills that I have imparted to them to be as critical of what is presented to them, as your source has allowed me to do.