Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Opposition in Disarray

Mar 2, 2011

Instead of forming a single party, agree on straight fights against PAP

GETTING opposition parties to unite against the People's Action Party (PAP) in a general election is unconstructive, impractical and unworkable ('Only a united opposition can succeed' by Mr Paul Chan; last Saturday).
Simply merging different parties together would mean that weaker individuals and ineffective groups get conveniently subsumed into the association.
Given the challenging roles and duties of opposition politicians, there should be competition between parties - in the form of leadership calibre, manifestoes and overall quality.
As the immediate goal of opposition parties is to increase party credibility and persuade people to vote for them, they cannot compromise on their policy proposals and recommendations.
As they are motivated by varying ideals, though bound by the common purpose of serving the people, there are significant differences in their strategies for a better Singapore.
Also, the different levels of development among opposition parties may also deter the establishment of a single party.
Case in point: The resignations and confusing developments that appear to have roiled the new Reform Party contrast sharply with the situation in more established parties whose game plans are in place and well-articulated.
Merging into a single bloc now will result in valuable time and resources being wasted on wrangling over leadership positions and bickering over bureaucratic imbroglios, instead of focusing on substantive policy issues.
A call for unity without proper justification will hardly convince Singaporeans of the opposition's readiness to challenge the status quo.
Nonetheless, what opposition parties can - and should - do is to discuss the distribution of their candidates across the electoral map, to prevent three-way fights.
This would prevent splitting the opposition vote. More importantly, straight fights against the PAP will ensure contests in all constituencies, and allow all eligible Singaporeans to have their say at the ballot box.

Kwan Jin Yao

Disunity is obstructing an effective by-election strategy

WHEN the by-election strategy was hatched 20 years ago, it worked because the leaders of the opposition parties then were united ('Only a united opposition can succeed' by Mr Paul Chan; last Saturday).
The strategy was a hit as it garnered the opposition four seats in the 1991 General Election (GE), a record since Singapore's first GE for Parliament in 1968 when the People's Action Party (PAP) was returned to power on Nomination Day, and when walkovers became virtually a permanent feature thereafter.
A by-election strategy is still relevant. However, with so many opposition parties and self-centred leaders, it is almost impossible now.
One minor disagreement among opposition candidates would result in one of them joining or forming another political party.
The reality is that some opposition candidates can barely hope to keep their election deposits in a GE.
Opposition parties should pick their candidates more carefully.
For instance, those who are older than 60 and have lost in two GEs should refrain from contesting.
In fact, I think the opposition parties cannot find the 43 effective candidates they would need for a by-election strategy in the upcoming GE.
For example, if the Workers' Party can find five credible candidates like party chairman Sylvia Lim, it may have a chance of winning Aljunied GRC by employing the by-election strategy, on the assumption that the PAP is assured of forming the next government on Nomination Day.

Lim Jit Chaing

[The By-election effect has already been discredited. It was really the LKY effect. Or more precisely, the LKY stepping down effect. That was the year GCT took over. Some people obviously thought, if LKY is not PM, perhaps it is time to consider alternatives.

However, of the 4 opposition voted in that year, 2 were duds. Instead of heralding a new phase in opposition politics, they were a blip on the political radar and a lesson that alternatives need to be credible, viable, feasible, and presentable. The people learnt their lesson and rewarded Chiam and Low, and promptly kicked out the two twits in the next election.

And it has been two ever since.

To counter the By-election effect, the PAP has implemented local election effect with upgrading and asset enhancement offered to "buy" votes. It was worked, but now with most precincts upgraded, there is less to offer.

But the real reason the opposition is in disarray is that the PAP has no ideological weakness, simply because it has no ideology. The members of the opposition flit from one part to another because in the absence of an ideology, the opposition are unable to present a logical, coherent alternative.

If they have an ideology, it is that the PAP is pro-Singapore. And how can any opposition decide to campaign on an Anti-Singapore platform?

Before the opposition even can decide to oppose the PAP, they need to decide what are they opposing? You can oppose policies, but policies can change. You need to oppose principles and ideologies. Or provide an alternative.

Without a ideological or principle platform, all that the opposition can do is oppose policies, which is a weak platform.]

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