Opposition must beat PAP at its own game

October 11, 2004
Singapore Democrats

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11 October 2004

I recently read JBJ’s book and it was very revealing on some of the tactics the incumbent government uses to squelch the opposition and to gain leverage in contesting elections.

Previously I could not understand the opposition’s tirade against the government and it seemed totally unwarranted. Now the opposition’s grievances seem more perpiscuous and lucid.

I write this letter to offer my perspective and suggestions as a 19-year-old to further enhance the opposition and make it more appealing towards mainstream people. Many are simply oblivious to the devious methodolody employed by the PAP to maintain its monopoly. With an obedient and meek media, the truth being promulgated is less plausible.

Yet there are others who are cognizant of the PAP’s tactics but still steadfastly support them. This is mainly due to the competence with which the PAP and its doyens have led Singapore, their reputation in Singapore is unblemished.

Undeniablely they have contributed enormously to Singapore. But it perturbs me that its suppressing of freedom has left us very weak. Also without a robust opposition, future leaders will have complete reign to abuse this monopoly and it could prove detrimental to Singapore.

Yet I’m also left chagrined by our infirm opposition who seem more occupied in spouting polemics then in endearing itself to the public. Although I undertand its greivances, the path it ventures on simply alienates it futher from the public who shun disrespect towards its leaders. Some opposition leaders foolhardyly plunge themselves into the pitfall the PAP has laid by being pounded with defamation suits.

JBJ was one such victim as I found out recently in his book and Dr chee is being chastised in a similar manner for his gratutitous comments.I cant fathom why Dr Chee who I’m sure is a man of intellect made that folly.

The opposition needs to set aside its vendatta with the government if it is to appeal to the public. It also needs to start focusing on more fundamental policies such as augmenting the economy, scrutinzing current policies and enhancing quality of life. I sincerely hope to see the opposition perform much better in the forthcoming elections and hopefully have more elected candidates.

I understand that the constraints under which they have to perform are quite obnoxious but it seems they have to play within these rules implemented by the PAP. Beat them at their own game should be the motto and their incentive!

I would appreciate a response to my perhaps naive views and suggestions.

A. SINGH

SDP: While Mr Singh demonstrates a healthy, if rudimentary, understanding of the autocratic nature of politics that the PAP plays, he also displays naivete when he calls on the opposition to “set aside its vendetta against (sic) the government”, “start focusing on more fundamental policies”, “play within the rules”, etc.

The Democrats ask Mr Singh to study, not just read cursorily, some of the articles on this webiste. Without an in-depth appreciation of the nature of the PAP system, Singaporeans and the opposition will never be able to make the kind of political reform that is needed in this country.

Fundamental shifts in the way the opposition operates in Singapore is needed if we are to break out of the box that PAP has put Singaporeans in. Calling on the opposition to establish democracy in Singapore while playing within the rules set by the PAP is like driving a car without gas. Mr Singh should not be chastising the car but the one who siphoned off the petrol.

If Mr Singh is serious about changing politics and the way the opposition functions, he is welcome to contact the Singapore Democrats and contribute his energy and time towards bringing about democratic change. We will be most interested to listen to suggestions.