In less than a month after Michael Palmer resigned as the MP for Punggol East SMC, the PM Lee Hsien Loong decided to call for a by-election in the constituency. Many things have happened since then, provoking much discussion on issues surrounding this by-election on both online and offline platforms. Reading through those discussions, some of which I have participated in as well, I noticed a few common themes. I have also picked up on a few common attitudes and perceptions which make me feel that a greater political awakening is necessary in our society, despite the fact that people are now more comfortable in sharing their political opinions nowadays.
Alright anyway, here are three points I would like to bring up:
1. The “We came first” mentality needs to end
Besides the Workers’ Party, several other parties and individuals have expressed their intentions to run for this by-election. Right from the beginning however, much criticism has been casted upon the Singapore Democratic Party’s intention to run. Many were blaming SDP for trying to cause a three-cornered fight, saying that since the WP ran in the General Election in 2011 (GE2011), Punggol East SMC is rightfully the turf of the WP. Now that the SDP has announced their withdrawal from the race, the criticisms have shifted to the Reform Party (RP), SDA, Mr Ooi Boon Ewe and Prof Dr Zeng Guo Yuan.
What a flawed mentality. First of all, no independent candidate or political party should hold monopoly on an area simply because they have carried out their campaigns in the area before. In the spirit of democracy, all individuals and parties who have considered their abilities, looked through their campaign messages and are confident to serve the people of that particular area, should have the opportunity to participate in the election. Secondly, if one insists on going along with this line of discrimination, which I consider seriously childish, then the Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA) should have been given the priority for years of groundwork done in the area. Does anyone even recall that it was WP who created a three-cornered fight in last year’s GE? Strangely, I did not recall anyone pointing fingers at WP or reinforcing this childish mentality of “so and so came first” mentality… well not as strongly as the way it seems this time.
2. A three-cornered or multiple-cornered fight ensures victory for the PAP
This is such a pessimistic and fatalistic mentality. The by-election, or any elections for the matter, should not just be about PAP versus The Opposition. We have to recognise and not lump the opposition parties into one big anti-PAP collective. Furthermore, I am particularly concerned when such an utterance comes from active members of several political parties.
My stand is that if any of the parties actually feels this way, then PAP deserves to win. This is because when such a thought even comes across the minds of anyone, especially party members, it reflects on their level of confidence on their parties’ and candidates’ abilities, as well as the campaign messages of their parties. Rather than spend time reinforcing this mentality in the hearts and minds of fellow citizens, they should really spent their time strengthening their campaign messages regarding what their parties can offer and the quality of their candidates as how to win the hearts and minds of the electorate in their groundwork. They should not just aim for a mediocre margin of slightly more than 50% of the vote share, but 100%. That is, if they are seriously and genuinely intending to offer more choices to the electorate with their participation.
3. Regarding “opposition unity”
There have been several calls for the opposition parties to be united in the battle against PAP from both members of the public, politicians and members of the political parties themselves. In my opinion, the idea of opposition unity is unnecessary. With such diverse differences between all of the political parties in Singapore, PAP included, there must be a distinct recognition of each party’s identity and existence. In fact, grouping all other parties with one general label (opposition) is like saying that socialism, Marxism and communism are the same.
And if opposition unity is really that important, I suggest that ALL opposition parties close shop and regroup under one name called Singapore Opposition Party. Now that will certainly avoid multiple-cornered fights, won’t it? 😉
Note: Just my personal opinions which I recognise, are debatable. There are more thoughts but I have no time to type them out.
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