WP60 Speech – Leon Perera


Friends of the Workers’ Party, this video, celebrating 60 years of the Workers’ Party, marks a new milestone. Rarely in our history have we produced a creative product like this gem.

The authentic voices you will hear in this video help us understand what politics is like from the trenches, what it’s like to engage and serve Singapore citizens and fight elections. This video is not only a Workers’ Party oral history but a Singaporean oral history.

It tells a very important part of the Singapore story, from the perspective of those who were not able to shape how our history is taught in schools.

Above all, this video makes clear the lesson of these 60 years. That we keep walking forward whatever the odds. And when we fall, we pick ourselves up, we dust ourselves off and we keep walking, walking with Singapore, to help build a brighter, better future for this country that we love.

There have been many challenges in the past. There will be many more challenges in the future. Perhaps new ones.

To meet those challenges, we need more people like the people who were a part of this video, in front of and behind the cameras, the people who made this video as a labour of love. More volunteers, more members, more donors, more people who care enough to invest a part of their lives in this effort.

Because, for our democratic society to fail, all that is needed is for good citizens to do nothing.

A balanced politics, an empowered future, a democratic society does not come about by itself. It needs people to come forward – many more than those we have in the Workers’ Party today. If this video succeeds in persuading more people to invest in our cause, it would be the most fitting tribute to the people who have, over 60 years, fought so hard to build the Workers’ Party into what it is today.

It is impossible for me to do full justice to the talent, the hard work, the technical mastery, the passion that went into producing this video.

Did you know, just to make someone look “natural” on-screen, it takes at least 4 to 6 special lightings, two big cameras, set and props preparation, make-up and a Kopi-O?

I would like to give the Party’s heartfelt thanks to the incredible people who have spent hours and hours and poured blood, sweat and tears to make this documentary possible.

Zen Yeo, the dedicated, visionary director and producer; the one who refused to give up on the creative integrity of the film during the production process.

Tania Sng, the meticulous and resourceful producer and assistant director; the one who reigned back the team when necessary and pushed them just far enough to make breakthroughs for the film we see today.

Joe Ng, the ever-thoughtful and skilful sound recordist, audiopost and composer, who made sure that the music and voices of our people are captured as beautifully as what’s on screen.

The additional crew that were critical during the filming process – Ler Jiyuan, Jason Tan, Yap Teng Wui and Ting Si Hao – without whom our core trio would probably have died from exhaustion and overwork. Ying Sien was the Colour Grader, and Ivy Lock was in charge of accounts.

We cannot forget two important party members who have worked very closely with the creative team for the past one year; Leandra Chee and Liane Ng. Leandra was the sai-kang warrior, the co-ordinator, scheduler, transcriber, make-up artist and writer all mashed into one. Liane was the effective fire-fighter who facilitated the making of core decisions about the direction of the project.

I would like to give a shout-out to the following volunteers for their detailed transcription work: Khairul, Melissa Lim, Jamie Lai, Nicole Seah, Cheryl Loh, Ethan Tan, Fikril Hakim, Yudhish Nathan, Chang Qizhong, Wayne Lim and Melvin Tan. Melvin, Khairul and Fikril also doubled up and facilitated the collection of precious old photos for the documentary. Pamela Chae also helped as the make-up artist during the shoot. Loh Pei Ying helped to co-ordinate the interview with Uncle Ee Ping. The Party cannot thank all of you enough.

Last but not least, I would like to mention the individuals who have invested their precious and sometimes over-burdened time to share with us their personal stories and memories that make up this video. Our MPs of Aljunied GRC and Hougang SMC – Mr Low Thia Khiang, Sylvia Lim, Pritam Singh, Faisal Manap, Chen Show Mao and Png Eng Huat. Party members like Uncle Ee Ping, Ng Swee Bee, Lee Lilian, Rani, Ong Yushan, Toh Hong Boon, Ron Tan, James Pang, Zuraini Nur Adlina and Yudhish.

When we tried to find non-Party independent observers to be filmed for this video, many whom we reached out to were unable to commit. We suspect this was in large part due to the unspoken fear of being singled out in their line of work or industry. Amidst all the talk of the new normal in Singapore, this was a jolt back to reality. Has this fear lessened over the years? Probably. Is it totally gone? Probably not yet. Will it disappear in future? That depends on us – on the decisions we make as citizens to build the future of Singapore and Singaporean politics.

Despite the odds, the team managed to invite five well-known, talented and amazing independent interviewees to be a part of this film. These names are not new to us – Photographer Edwin Koo. Comic artist, Sonny Liew. Musician Art Fazil. General Manager of The Necessary Stage, Melissa Lim. And ex-national footballer Quah Kim Song. Their agreement to be featured in our documentary does not represent an endorsement of the WP or its positions. They were filmed to share a thoughtful observer’s perspective about the WP and Singapore politics.

I will end off with a special treat for all of you, an exclusive screening of the WP60 Documentary trailer. Not a spoiler, just a trailer… Please enjoy!