SDP brings opposition parties together to hear Pakatan Harapan experience

Singapore Democrats

The SDP held a forum this afternoon where opposition parties came together to hear how the Pakatan Harapan (PH; Alliance of Hope) achieved its historic victory in the recent Malaysian elections.

The guest speaker was Mr Chua Tian Chuang, former Malaysian member of parliament and Chief of Information of Parti KeAdilan Rakyat (PKR; People’s Justice Party). The PKR is headed by prime minister-in-waiting Mr Anwar Ibrahim.

In describing how the PH came to be, Mr Chua said: “It’s been a long process that required a lot of patience and compromises. It wasn’t always easy but in the end we came together and managed to present a united front.

“The parties and politicians were initially reluctant to come together, but it was the people’s demand to see a coalition that helped bring about Pakatan Harapan.”

The PH comprises a coalition of four parties: The PKR, Democratic Action Party, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, and Parti Amanah. It defeated the BN after 61 years of one-party rule in Malaysia.

The victory of the PH has brought renewed hope for democracy in Singapore with Singaporeans calling for the opposition here to also form a united team for the next elections.

Some of the attendees cautioned, however, that there are significant differences between the Singaporean and Malaysian political scenes that make a replication of PH-like success in Singapore improbable in the immediate term.

Nevertheless, all agreed that the process of putting together a unified opposition that can present a credible alternative to the PAP must begin.

The SDP hopes that today’s forum, which was by-invitation only, will facilitate this process. 

In his welcome remarks, SDP Chairman Prof Paul Tambyah said: “We come from diverse backgrounds but there is much more that unites us than divides us. We all share the belief that things can be better, that we can and will have a democratic Singapore.

“We hope that this private session will inspire us to work together for a better Singapore for all.”

The road is long and the task is uphill, but the opposition must find courage and the discipline to overcome the barriers in order that Singaporeans can have a meaningful choice in who they want as their government. 

All the opposition parties except the Workers’ Party were present. Dr Tan Cheng Bock, former presidential candidate, was to attend but had to tend to a family matter at the last minute. Members of civil society also attended the event.

The SDP will continue our effort to meet Singaporeans’ hopes of seeing a united and competent alternative to the PAP. The people can count on us to do our part.