POLITICAL PARTIES IN SINGAPORE
Political parties and leaders:People's Action Party or PAP [Lee Hsien Loong]; National Solidarity Party or NSP [Hazel Poa]; Reform Party [Kenneth Jeyaretnam]; Singapore Democratic Alliance or SDA [Desmond Lim]; Singapore Democratic Party [Chee Soon Juan]; Singapore People's Party or SPP [Chiam See Tong]; Workers' Party or WP [Low Thia Khiang]. The SDA includes Singapore Justice Party or SJP and Singapore National Malay Organization or PKMS Political pressure groups and leaders: none [Source: CIA World Factbook =]
Ruling party: People's Action Party (PAP) of Lee Kuan Yew and his son Lee Hsien Loong held all but two of the seats in parliament in the 1990s and early 2000s The PAP’s grip on power was once so complete that it controlled every parliament seat and PAP candidates won most districts unopposed.
In the 1988 parliamentary elections, opposition candidates challenged the ruling party in an unprecedented seventy contests, but the PAP still won eighty of the eighty-one seats in Parliament with 61.8 percent of the popular vote, 1 percent less than in 1984, and 14 percent less than in 1980.
To offset for relatively poor showing in recent parliamentary elections, PAP has come up with some creative ways to hold on to power, such as requiring voters to vote for blocks of four, five or six candidates rather than just one..
PAP has been able to survive as long as it has by delivering on a social contract to provide stability and economic prosperity in return for acceptance of its authoritarian policies, which have included strong-arming the opposition. The PAP, for example, has threatened districts that dared to vote against it with delays in their housing upgrades.
People's Action Party (PAP)
The government of Singapore had been led since 1959 by one political party, the PAP, mostly under two men, Singapore’s founder Lee Kuan Yew, and his son the current prime minister Lee Hsien Loong. The PAP was founded in 1954, and in the 1950s acted as a leftwing party of trade unionists, whose leadership consisted of English-educated lawyers and journalists and Chinese-educated and pro-communist trade union leaders and educators. It won control of the government in the crucial 1959 election to the Legislative Assembly, which was the first election with a mass electorate and for an administration that had internal self-government (defense and foreign relations remained under British control). The PAP mobilized mass support, ran candidates in all fifty-one constituencies, and won control of the government with forty-three of the fifty-one seats and 53 percent of the popular vote. After a bitter internal struggle the English-educated, more pragmatic wing of the party triumphed over the pro-communists in 1961 and went on to an unbroken string of electoral victories, winning all the seats in Parliament in the 1968, 1972, 1976, and 1980 general elections. [Source: Library of Congress, 1989 *]
With a single party and set of leaders ruling the country for thirty years, Singapore had what political scientists called a dominant party system or a hegemonic party system, similar to that of Japan or Mexico. There were regular elections and opposition parties and independent candidates contested the elections, but after the early 1960s the opposition had little chance of replacing the PAP, which regularly won 60 to 70 percent of the popular vote. The strongest opposition came from the left, with union-based parties appealing to unskilled and factory workers. In the early 1960s, the union movement split between the leftist Singapore Association of Trade Unions and the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), which was associated with Lee Kuan Yew's pragmatic wing of the PAP. In 1963 the Singapore Association of Trade Unions was banned and its leaders arrested as pro-communist subversives. The NTUC was controlled by the PAP and followed a government-sponsored program of "modern unionism," under which strikes were unknown and wages were, in practice, set by the government through the National Wages Council. *
The dominance of the PAP rested on popular support won by economic growth and improved standards of living combined with unhesitating repression of opposition leaders, who were regularly arrested on charges of being communist agents or sympathizers. In the mid-1980s, eighteen other political parties were registered, although many of them were defunct, existed only on paper, or were the vehicles of single leaders. Much of the electoral support for opposition parties represented protest votes. Those voting for opposition candidates did not necessarily expect them to win or even wish to replace the PAP government. They used their votes to express displeasure with some or all PAP policies. *
People's Action Party (PAP) Organization and Structure
At the top of the PAP organization was the Central Executive Committee (CEC). In 1954 the PAP constitution provided for a CEC of twelve persons directly elected by party members at the annual general meeting. The CEC then elected its own chairman, vice chairman, secretary, assistant secretary, treasurer, and assistant treasurer. This practice continued until August 1957, when six procommunist members of the party succeeded in being elected. In 1958 the party revised its constitution to avoid a recurrence. The document called for CEC members to be elected at biennial party conferences by party cadre members, who in turn were chosen by a majority vote of the committee. The CEC was the most important party unit, with a membership overlapping the cabinet's. The two bodies were practically indistinguishable. Chairmanship of the CEC was a nominal post. Actual power rested in the hands of a secretary general, a post held by Lee Kuan Yew since the party's founding. He was assisted by a deputy secretary general who was charged with day-to-day party administration. [Source: Library of Congress, 1989 *]
Subordinate to the CEC were the branches, basic party units established in all electoral constituencies. The branches were controlled by individual executive committees, chaired in most cases by the local delegate to Parliament. As a precaution against leftist infiltration, the CEC approved all committee members before they assumed their posts. One-half of the committee members were elected, and one-half nominated by the local chairman. Branch activities were monitored by the party's headquarters through monthly meetings between members of the party cadre and the local executive committee. The meetings provided a forum for party leaders to communicate policy to branch members and a means to maintain surveillance over local activities. *
The party's cadre system was the key to maintaining discipline and authority within the party. Individual cadres were selected by the CEC on the basis of loyalty, anticommunist indoctrination, education, and political performance. Cadre members were not easily identified but were estimated to number no more than 2 percent of the party's membership of 1989, a list of cadres had never been published. *
Although clearly the dominant party, the PAP differed from the ruling parties of pure one-party states in two significant ways. Unlike the leaders of communist parties, the leaders of the PAP made no effort to draw the mass of the population into the party or party-led organizations or to replace community organizations with party structures. Singapore's leaders emphasized their government roles rather than their party ones, and party organizations were largely dormant, activated only for elections. Compulsory voting brought the electors to the polls, and the record of the government and the fragmented state of the opposition guaranteed victory to most if not all PAP candidates. In many general elections, more than half of the seats were uncontested, thus assuring the election of PAP candidates. The relatively weak party organization was the result of the decision of the leaders to use government structures and the network of ostensibly apolitical community organizations to achieve their ends. By the 1970s and 1980s, the leaders had confidence in the loyalty of the public service and had no need for a separate party organization to act as watchdog over the bureaucracy. The government was quite successful at co-opting traditional community leaders into its system of advisory boards, committees, and councils, and felt no need to build a distinct organization of party activists to wrest power from community leaders. Second-echelon leaders were recruited through appointment and co-optation and were preferentially drawn from the bureaucracy, the professions, and private enterprises, typically joining the PAP only when nominated for a Parliamentary seat. The path to Parliament and the cabinet did not run through constituency party branches or the PAP secretariat. In the view of the leadership, political parties were instruments used to win elections and could be dispensed with if there was little prospect of serious electoral competition. *
Political Opposition Parties in Singapore
Of Singapore’s opposition parties, only the Workers’ Party of Singapore (WP) and the Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA), an umbrella group, hold seats in Parliament. The SDA consists of the Singapore National Malay Organization (Pertuhan Kebangsaan Melayu Singapura—PKMS), National Solidarity Party (NSP), Singapore’s People’s Party (SPP), and Singapore Justice Party (SJP). Two opposition parties not holding seats in Parliament are the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Singapore Democratic Party (SDP).
In the May 2006 parliamentary elections, the Singapore government continued its customary tradition of intimidation against opposition candidates, which consisted mainly of costly defamation lawsuits. Following the 2006 elections, the Asian Network for Free Elections, a watchdog group based in Bangkok, recommended that Singapore establish an independent election commission, which now reports to the prime minister.
After the 1997 election only two of Singapore’s five opposition parties held seats in the 83-seat parliament. They were the Workers Party of Low Thia Khiang and the Singapore People’s Party of Chiam See Tong. In 2000, four opposition parties united to form the Singapore Democratic Alliance led by Chiam See Tong.
In the elections of September 1988, the only opposition member to win election was Singapore Democratic Party candidate Chiam See Tong who repeated his 1984 victory. However, in the contest over eight additional seats — two representing single-seat constituencies, and six representing two newly formed three-member group representation constituencies — the PAP received less than 55 percent of the vote. Furthermore, under a constitutional amendment passed in 1984, the opposition was to be allotted three parliamentary seats, whether it won them or not. Thus, as a result of the 1988 election, in addition to Chiam, the opposition was permitted to seat two additional, nonconstituency, nonvoting members of Parliament in the new Parliament. [Source: Library of Congress *]
In the 1988 elections, Lee Siew Choh, a candidate of the Workers' Party and one of the two opposition members chosen to sit in Parliament as nonvoting members, was forced on the campaign's opening day to go to court and pay damages for comments he made about PAP during the 1984 election. The other opposition member, Francis Seow, faced trial for alleged tax evasion, and, if convicted, faced disqualification from Parliament. Shortly afterwards, Prime Minister Lee threatened to bring a defamation suit against Workers' Party leader J. B. Jeyaretnam. Another Workers' Party candidate, Seow Khee Leng, was threatened by the government with bankruptcy proceedings. All three had been successfully sued by Lee for slander in earlier elections. *
The Workers' Party, led by J.B. Jeyaretnam in 1989, was the principal opposition party. The Workers' Party stood for a less regimented society, constitutional reforms, less defense spending, and more government social services. It was supported by lower income wage earners, students, and intellectuals. Next was the United People's Front, founded in December 1974 as a confederation of the Singapore Chinese Party, the Singapore Islamic Party, and the Indian-supported Justice Party. It campaigned for a more democratic political system. A third party, ideologically to the left of both the United People's Front and the Workers' Party, was the People's Front, established in 1971. In 1972 its campaign platform advocated a democratic socialist republic and no foreign military ties. In 1973 the party's secretary general, Leong Mun Kwai, received a six-month prison sentence for inciting the people of Singapore to seize government leaders. Seventeen other opposition parties were registered in 1989, including the Barisan Sosialis, once the primary target of the government's political surveillance activities because of its former role in antigovernment street demonstrations, student protests, and industrial strikes. Lee Siew Choh, a nonvoting member of Parliament in 1989, was the leader of the party's moderate wing. *
Repression of Political Opposition in Singapore
The state of the opposition was rooted in the PAP's drive, beginning in 1963, to suppress all communist and leftist influence in Singapore. The government discouraged opposition political activity through the use of open-ended laws such as the Internal Security Act (ISA), which was originally intended to deal with armed communist insurrection during the Malayan Emergency of 1948- 60. This law permitted the indefinite detention by executive order of any person suspected of leftist or procommunist activity. Amnesty International frequently cited Singapore for using the ISA to suppress legitimate, nonviolent political opposition. That organization also cited Singapore's use of deprivation of citizenship and banishment as means of repression. The government often associated opposition with foreign manipulation, which compounded its fear of dissent of any kind. [Source: Library of Congress *]
There were few issues on which the PAP could be challenged. Under PAP rule, Singapore had achieved unprecedented economic prosperity as well as marked social progress in racial harmony, education, health care, housing, and employment. The PAP's achievements had created a popular confidence in the party that was difficult to overcome. The opposition parties themselves were divided along racial and ideological lines and unable to compete with the PAP as a common front. *
In May and June 1987, twenty-two people were detained without trial under the ISA for alleged involvement in a communist conspiracy. All detainees were released by the end of the year with the exception of Chia Thye Poh, who was held for more than two years. A virulent critic of the government and former member of Parliament representing the Barisan Sosialis (The Socialist Front), he was finally released in May 1989 after having been detained since October 1966. Although Chia was never charged, the government alleged that he was a member of the outlawed Communist Party of Malaya ( CPM), assigned to infiltrate the Barisan Sosialis in order to destabilize the government. In 1987 amendments were made to the Parliament Privilege, Immunities, and Powers Act of 1962, giving Parliament the power to suspend any parliamentary member's immunity from civil proceedings for statements made in Parliament and to imprison and fine a member if he or she were found guilty of dishonorable conduct, abuse of privilege, or contempt. *
Political Opposition in the 2011 Elections, See 2011 Elections Under History
Political Elitism Hurting the PAP
In 2006, Seah Chiang Nee wrote in The Star, “Singapore’s People’s Action Party is confronted with a widening class divide and a creeping political elitism that could drive it from power, if they are allowed to fester. The General Household Survey revealed that the top 20 percent of Singapore’s households in 2005 earned 31 times that of the bottom 20 percent. And the gap is widening. “We have a crop of well-off MPs who have little empathy for the poor or needy, seeing failure is an individual’s fault. Political elitism and arrogance are undoing the PAP’s strong record of achievements,” one party grassroots worker said, calling for political reforms. “Otherwise, the PAP cannot survive a one-man-one-vote democracy for no more than two or three elections.” “The stability of a society depends on how people feel. If there is a group which is unhappy, such that they rebel against the system, that can lead to all kinds of trouble,” warned Labour chief and a PMO minister Lim Boon Heng. [Source: Seah Chiang Nee, The Star, October 22, 2006 ^^]
“For some time, party workers have been giving feedback to the leadership that public feelings are rising against what they say is a system that favours the elite and the rich. Only a few newer MPs are social workers or people with good community links, but compassion, charity and humility generally rank low in priority in a candidate’s qualities. For decades, the party leaders have tended to come from the ranks of scholars and technocrats, described by Lee Senior as “among the best in Singapore.” In a different era, the system had worked well in building an efficient, modern city. That was the good part. But in the new Singapore, elitism breeds resentment and friction. Many of these MPs, raised in wealthy homes, are simply too removed from the plight of poor Singaporeans they are supposed to represent. ^^
“Events in October 2006 brought the issue to he fore. “It began when Wee Shu Min, 18-year-old scholar-daughter of a PAP MP, launched a scathing attack on Singaporean Derek Wee for voicing concerns on job security and age discrimination. She described Derek as a “stupid crackpot”, “the sadder class”, over-reliant on the government in Singapore where society is “far too survival of the fittest” and signed off with: “Get out of my elite uncaring face”. Other condescending terms: Derek is a typical “wretched, under-motivated, over-assuming leeches” specimen of Singapore. He has a “middle-class under-educated penchant” for complaining and should get on with life. ^^
“It was political dynamite for several reasons. Firstly, she was a scholar (10 A’s in O-level, strong bilingual, French) in elitist Raffles Junior College, the sort that is earmarked for an easy road to high office. Secondly, her father Wee Siew Kim is an executive of Singapore Engineering and MP in PM Lee Hsieng Loong’s Ang Mo Kio group constituency, so whatever he does affects the PM’s political fortune. Hundreds of angry Singaporeans consider her remarks as elitist and insensitive against the common people. To make matters worse, the MP issued a statement that appeared to support her elitist remarks. The controversy may have sealed his political career; there is little prospect of Wee standing again in the next election. ^^
“Unfortunately for the PAP, it occurred at almost the same time as news broke of a 40-year-old unemployed father of two teenagers jumping in front of a moving train. After failing to get a job for four months, he committed suicide with S$16 in his pocket and a pile of debts. Shu Min had written, “If you’re not good enough, life will kick you in the balls. That’s just how things go.” ^^
“Critics connect the two with devastating effect for the system. Her comments have divided Singaporeans. Some of the more successful elements back her argument that Singapore’s capitalist system supports the “survival of the fittest” theory. One asked, “What’s wrong with being elitist?” At least one saw the debate positively. “In fact, we are already unintentionally preparing ourselves to enter the post-Lee Kuan Yew era by creating a bit of chaos here and there,” he wrote. “When Lee finally goes, we would already have got used to the chaos; we can (then) re-make our beloved Singapore.” ^^
Opposition Tentatively Moves Forward as Singapore Loosens Up
In 2005, Seth Mydans wrote in the International Herald Tribune: The announcement that the government was going to bring casinos to Singapore “brought with it an unintended sign of the future: a vigorous, unsanctioned — and ultimately futile — campaign of grass-roots opposition to the casinos. This may signal a somewhat bolder public in Singapore, encouraged by the spreading world of Internet anonymity. Unofficial Web sites have been filled with chatter about the casinos. "They can't control everything," said Sinapan Samydorai, who runs an independent opposition Web site called Think Center. "They realize they can't stop it anymore." [Source: Seth Mydans, International Herald Tribune, August 10, 2005 /+/]
Later “this Internet people power showed itself again when an online petition helped force out the head of the largest government-backed charity, the National Kidney Foundation, for what was described as an extravagant use of government funds.” Later still, “the opposition Singapore Democratic Party tried a new way to make its voice heard, inaugurating an audio "podcast" on its Web site, singaporedemocrat.org. /+/
“This type of broadcasting is an increasingly popular medium that allows audio files to be downloaded from the Internet. "The Internet remains a medium that the government finds hard to censor, although it has enacted many laws aimed at curtailing the use of the Internet for political purposes," said the party leader, Chee Soon Juan, who has been denied permits and has been sued for libel in his attempts to speak in public in Singapore. /+/
“In this carefully tended society, it can be a surprise to visit a small alternative concert intended to protest the death penalty and find people filled with anger and shouting for freedom in Singapore. A 23-year-old singer who calls himself Marcos Destructos and wears a metal stud in his lower lip said he was not happy with the state of affairs. "If you believe in things like art, and believe in things like humanity, you'd not be anything other than angry, living in the current day and age," he said. He added: "Some people are happy under a repressive system. It's like an open prison. You get complacent because of the comfort. They give you just enough to make you happy." On the other hand, Watt Kim, 73, a retired schoolteacher on his way home from a holiday fair, said he was happy to let the government run his life in Singapore. "Everything is organized, no crime, it's clean and green," he said. "If you litter you get fined. If you have drugs, you get hanged." /+/
A More Aggressive Political Opposition in Singapore?
In 2006, Seah Chiang Nee wrote in The Star, “A lack of experience has told on the largest opposition party, Workers Party (WP), at a time when its fortunes are looking up after years of struggle. It is undergoing a phase that all outfits face when expanding. It stems from a natural law, which says that when you are a one-man party (as it was under J.B. Jeyaratnan), internal cohesion was no problem; you lose it only when you grow big. [Source: Seah Chiang Nee, The Star, October 22, 2006 \^/]
“With its recent expansion, the invigorated party (its leader Low Thia Khiang is a cautious, consensus-seeking person) has gained more public acceptance but it has come with a price. The new recruits are better-quality, Internet-savvy youths who are new to the ways of the real world of politics – like their counterparts in the ruling party. Barely six months after the election, the party has hit its first teacup storm. Several new recruits who fared credibly as first-timers in the May election began questioning their leaders. \^/
“The big issue is party discipline that the free-spirited members dislike but without which no political party can function. Specifically, it hinges on two issues. First is a new directive that forbids members of the Central Executive Committee (CEC) from taking part in online forums under their real names. There is a larger issue at stake. There are rumblings among young Turks that the leadership is too passive in engaging the PAP. These are strong-minded individuals who had joined with a passion to bring social and political changes to Singapore. \^/
“At least one other CEC member admires the more aggressive strategy of Chee Soon Juan, who staged a public protest to confront the government during the World Bank-IMF meeting here recently. All this points to a dilemma that is affecting society in general, especially the opposition. A new breed of Singaporeans may be emerging that is different from their more passive peers. These want quick action to change what they see as an unfair system, and “to heck with discipline”.
Opposition Politician Chee Soon Juan Bankrupted and Barred from Leaving Singapore
In April 2006, Chee Soon Juan, secretary general of the Singapore Democratic Party, said he has was barred from leaving the country after failing to submit a plan to pay defamation damages to two former prime ministers. The Nation reported: Chee “said airport immigration agents impounded his passport, preventing him from departing for a meeting of the World Movement for Democracy in Istanbul. Chee was declared banrkupt by the High Court after he failed to pay 500,000 Singapore dollars (310,000 US) in libel damages to former prime ministers Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong. By law, bankrupts cannot leave the country without permission from the Official Assignee's office. [Source: The Nation, April 3, 2006]
“In a statement, Chee said the Official Assignee had required him to draw up a proposal on how to pay Lee and Goh before it would consider his application to travel overseas. But Chee said he could not do so because he had insufficient funds and that income derived from selling his books is used to support his family. Lee and Goh were "using the excuse that I cannot pay them to stop me from travelling", he alleged, adding that "effectively, I have become their captive." He said he had no intention of not returning to Singapore and that his travel expenses were paid by the organisers. "There can only be one reason why the government is stopping my overseas travel: it is nervous about my continuing action to garner international support for the democracy movement in Singapore," he said.
Chee, 43, is one of the most vocal critics of the People's Action Party (PAP), which has ruled Singapore since independence in 1965. He has been jailed a few times, most recently for eight days last month for questioning the integrity of the judiciary. He is not eligible to stand in elections because he is a bankrupt. Veteran opposition figure J.B. Jeyaretnam said separately Monday that a court has given him until July 3 to pay outstanding costs or his application to annul his bankruptcy will be dismissed. Jeyaretnam, 80, said in a statement he must pay 6,500 Singapore dollars (4,037 US) in outstanding arrears stemming from his unsuccessful efforts to discharge his bankruptcy status in two previous court hearings.
A month earlier AFP reported: “ Chee Soon Juan, has been sentenced to one day in jail and fined for contempt of court after questioning the integrity of the judicial system. It is the first time a Singapore court has jailed anyone for an offense known as "scandalizing the court". Chee Soon Juan, secretary general of the Singapore Democratic Party, would be given a longer jail term of seven days if he did not pay the fine of 6,000 Singapore dollars (3,700 US) by 5:00 pm (0900 GMT), Justice Lai Siu Chiu of the High Court said. "This is probably one of the worst cases that has come before the court for scandalizing the judiciary," Lai told him. The attorney general lodged the contempt application with the High Court after a February 10 hearing at which Chee was declared bankrupt. That declaration followed his failure to pay 500,000 Singapore dollars (307,000 US) in damages to the city-state's founding father Lee Kuan Yew and another former prime minister, Goh Chok Tong. Lee, Goh and other members of the People's Action Party, which has ruled Singapore since independence in 1965, have a history of taking legal action against their political opponents and media critics. They argue they do so to protect their reputations.[Source: AFP, March 17, 2006]
Success for Singapore’s Opposition in the 2011 Election
Two months before the general election in 2011, Seah Chiang Nee wrote in The Star, Singapore’s largest opposition did something rather unusual in the history of electioneering. The Workers Party (WP) admitted publicly that it didn’t have enough leaders to form the government – and ended up with its best ever result. “I am against all kinds of empty promises,” explained WP leader Low Thia Khiang, adding that he did not want to mislead the public. [Source: Seah Chiang Nee, The Star, October 20, 2012 ]
“The declared weakness did not surprise many people. After all, WP could only field 23 candidates to contest the 84 seats. As public disenchantment rose, the left-of centre WP, formed by the late David Marshall in 1957, emerged with an unprecedented six seats in Parliament. In contrast, People’s Action Party (PAP) votes fell to a historic low 60 percent .
“Since then Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has worked hard and succeeded in cementing some of the government cracks, but resentment against a few of his policies remains. It is topped by the immigration issue.”
See 2011 Election
Disappointment with Singapore’s Opposition After the 2011 Election
After the general election in 2011, Seah Chiang Nee wrote in The Star, The Workers Party was accused of doing too little. “What the heck have you guys been doing since you were voted into Parliament?” demanded an irked supporter. Instead of major issues like the high cost of living and alleged treatment of Singaporeans, another fan accused WP of being more interested in flippant subjects like bird droppings and traffic offences. “The WP performance has so far been disappointing to people who are hoping it can be the PAP counter-weight,” said Harry Li. “Patience is already wearing off. Please WP, be mindful of those supporters’ hope and don’t further erode this hope.”[Source: Seah Chiang Nee, The Star, October 20, 2012 ]
“Most are, however, sticking to their faith in the party appealing for patience because it had only six Members in Parliament. The leadership, led by secretary-general Low Thia Khiang and chairman Sylvia Lim is largely non-confrontational, contrary to the former leadership of the late J.B. Jeyaratnam.
“The public expectation of a more aggressive performance partly stems from WP’s history. JBJ, as Jeyaratnam was popularly known as – was often known to slug it out toe-to-toe with Lee Kuan Yew in Parliament exchanges. At various times it also had anti-PAP fighters like Francis Seow and Tang Liang Hong, who, like JBJ, were severely punished for their efforts. These two are still in exile unable to return. Low, a child of the times, was a good learner on how the ruling party under Lee Senior exercised its powers on its foes. When he took over, he probably told himself he wasn’t going to be put in the same predicament. He stayed away from the confrontational politics, preferring to work on the grassroots to consolidate his Hougang constituency. As a close aide said: “His first priority is to survive before he can fight for votes.”
“These days WP has its fair share of problems and criticisms. Of late, some of its own supporters have been turning against it on the ground that it was too meek or timid in its enhanced parliament role. They charge the six WP Members of Parliament with failing to take up the bread-and-butter grouses and other big concerns of Singaporeans. Critics have reminded Low of his pledge to become society’s watchdog which would raise government shortcomings even if they were embarrassing.
“All parties have a common problem – a mass reluctance of educated Singaporeans to join politics. “Most Singaporeans love to talk politics but few want to join a party, including the PAP,” said a retired banker. Given the obstacles along its path, it is already a wonder that the fractious opposition can field enough candidates to contest in the 84-seat Parliament. The majority has rotated towards moderate, non-confrontational parties like WP, National Solidarity Party and the Singapore Peoples party. But recent trends are beginning to favour the more aggressive Reform Party (RP) and Singapore Democratic Party (SDP).”
Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Singapore Tourism Board, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.
Last updated June 2015