CAPE’s Manifesto

December 2019

 

1. We believe in a democratic society

A democratic society based on justice and equality – an enshrined aspiration in our National Pledge – is our nation’s founding principle that cherishes democracy as the fundamental cornerstone of a just, equal, and prosperous Singapore. CAPE believes that at the core of such participatory democracy is the freedom of citizens to engage and participate in the civic life of the country in order to articulate their interests and needs. The happiness, prosperity, and progress that Singapore has achieved thus far has been unevenly distributed; increasingly, marginalised groups in our society are left behind, and even forgotten. A vibrant democracy and substantial civil participation ensures that all members of our community continue to have a place and a stake in our society, and our elected government is accountable to all citizens. Such a democratic society is facilitated not just through elections, but also through open avenues for mature public discourse, collaborative governance, a vigorous civil society, and an active citizenry.

2. We uphold and empower democracy

CAPE occupies a unique position in the civil society landscape in Singapore as a student-led organisation focused on civic participation. As students, we benefit from an academic environment predisposed to discourse, the possibility of harnessing the idealism and energy of youth, and the physical and intellectual freedoms afforded by our campus spaces. With this privilege, we have the responsibility and the aspirations to contribute to, rejuvenate, and empower Singapore’s participatory democracy. We shall strive to achieve this by:

  1. Creating an empowering space for student and youth civic participation and open discourse, and
  2. Building capacity, and raising the critical consciousness of fellow students and members of society so that they can engage effectively in the civic life of the nation. 

In complementing the efforts of allies and fellow civil society actors, we hope to nurture a conducive environment for constructive civil participation, gotong royong, collaboration, and open discourse that is inclusive. 

3. We believe in a better world

We believe a better world is possible. It is convenient to rest on our laurels and think that political leaders and societies have already done the best they can, particularly in light of the imperative for economic development in Singapore and the narratives that we have been taught to accept. However, we must be cognisant of the struggles of marginalised groups and strive harder to co-create new policies and new ways of building a truly inclusive society, even if there are trade-offs in the process. We need to question if we can really be comfortable with where we are, and think about how we can build a country that we are (even) more proud of.

4. We are critical and accountable

We believe that grounded, intersectional, non-exclusive allyship, and a plurality of strategies of social change are necessary for effective progress. While our core mission is in building capacity and fostering civil participation, we robustly support cause-based advocacy, civic issues, and fellow allies aligned with our principles and mission. CAPE is willing to take a critical, informed, and principled public stance on issues, and to defend that stance. We also recognise that the freedom to publish on our platform comes with responsibility, and we will remain consistent with and accountable to our principles and our members.

5. We are non-partisan and independent

As a student-based organisation made up of volunteers with diverse backgrounds and interests, we have no common political ideology or agenda, except that we all work towards the common goal of supporting Singapore’s civic democracy. While we collaborate with a range of diverse actors – civil society activists and organisations, politicians from all sides, journalists, academics, civil servants, and fellow student groups, we are fundamentally and uncompromisingly independent of any party political agenda, platform, ideology, external influence, or financing. Our budget, however little, is supported by the Yale-NUS Dean of Students office, which only provides administrative and financial support, and does not exert any undue influence over our platform nor our views. 

6. We are a safe, diverse, and open community of students and allies

CAPE as a community embraces its core principles of diversity, inclusion, anti-discrimination, and anti-oppression across ethnicity, religion, class, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, and educational backgrounds. All are welcome to be a part of our community and to embrace our core principles and mission. As a community, we abide by collaborative and democratic decision-making, guided by principles of intersectionality, universal human rights, and a culture of gotong royong. We also do not tolerate harassment of any kind within our community, and we strive to uphold a safe space for our members.

 


— Adopted unanimously in December 2019 by the members of CAPE