We are clear about what we are against. Whatis less clear is what we are for. This outlook pretty much sums up whatopposition politics has been since the 1960s.$CUT$
Persecuted and hammeredin every conceivable manner, opposition parties have been deprived ofthe expertise and resources to craft an alternative vision forSingapore.
As a result, we have been mired infighting for democracy (rightly so), a tactic that the PAP hascountered by raising the ridiculous spectre of the advent of chaosand turmoil should the incumbent lose control over Singapore.
But times are changing and theopposition cannot remain in that mode. The opposition cannot justbank on the sentiments against the Government and ride on it intoParliament.
We need to talk about a different typeof politics, one that appeals to the hopes and aspirations of thepeople, not feed on their fear of the unknown. For if we are going tobuild a Singapore that is going to confidently embrace the future, wemust do more than just curse at the darkness, we must light thecandle and point the way forward.
We must articulate clearlywhat we are for, not just what we are against.
The opposition does Singaporeans nofavour if all we do is to be anti-PAP while neglecting to define whatwe want for our nation.
In such a scenario, all it requires isfor the PAP to frighten the people, as it has done all these decades,that without it at the helm, Singapore will crumble. This scare is made all the more real because the opposition has no alternative, let alone a better one, to offer.
The PAP knows that Singaporeans maynot like it but having it as government instead of the unknownis the lesser of two evils.
We need to change our mindset and we can do this if theopposition is able to tell the people what the alternative looks likeand how change to such an alternative is for the better.
We can change voting behaviour moreeffectively if we not only tell our fellow Singaporeans what is wrongwith the current system but also what they can expect if they switchto the alternative. We must give them a reason to vote forthe opposition, for change.
This is what the SDP has been workingtowards – to draw up an alternative vision. Not just a feel-good, fuzzy picture of the future but one where concrete policies withdetailed solutions are laid out. We are working to lift Singapore toa new level of politics where we debate policiesinstead of simply calling for the PAP to be kicked out.
This is why the SDP has invested muchtime and effort in drawing up our alternative policies. But thesepolicies will remain good only for academic discussion without anyreal purpose if they are never placed before voters to choose.
Singapore’s politics will mature whenvoters think through their votes, which party they are voting forand, more importantly, why. Let there be a fair and open contest ofideas. For this is the hallmark of a First World political system.
In our participation in thisby-election, the SDP will work not just to retain the opposition vote butto attract voters who may have been voting for the PAP because theyfear the unknown, because they don’t know what the alternative lookslike.
If we succeed, we would break a great psychological barrier andspeed up change that our nation so urgently needs.