Sunday, 25 May 2014

Opposition parties - May 2014

Tan Jee Say has stated that he will launch a new political party on Sun, 25 May 2014. 

The Singaporean voter is quite intelligent. They understand what is a credible opposition, and who are... less credible.

Why do we have so many opposition parties? Why are opposition parties only able to have temporary alliances during general elections (when they agree not to split votes in 3-corner fights - usually)? Why was there a 4-corner fight in Punggol East By-election? Why did the components of the SDA splinter off before the last GE? Why did the Reform Party attract so many known "stars" and then lose all of them before the 2011 elections?

The common factors in the answer to all these questions? Pride, personality, and ego.

The only opposition party to have thrived is one that does not have any unrealistic expectations, or a cult of personality - the Workers Party under Low Thia Khiang.

Every other party has a "charismatic" leader. And their party's fortunes is strongly tied to this person. As an example? Chiam See Tong.

Remember that WP was under JBJ who was such a strong personality, that his party was also handicapped until he handed over power to Low, and Low took the party away from the cult of personality that all the other parties were slaved to. Unfortunately, Low saw that JBJ would be burden to the WP and opposition politics as a whole, and did the necessary (if unfortunate and unpopular) move to remove JBJ. Personally, I feel sorry for JBJ, but on hindsight, Low did the right thing, and he did the brave thing.

He also did the brave (and unpopular) thing when he gave the NCMP seat to Gerald Giam instead of a more long-serving candidates (Eric Tan). Personally, I think Gerald Giam is a lightweight. But I do not know if Eric Tan is any better. Gerald truly may be the best person for the job. At least from WP stable of candidates.

What Low and WP did there was consistent with doing what is best to propel the opposition movement in Singapore.

This leads to the one obvious question then: if WP is the obvious and most viable opposition party in SG, why don't others simply join the WP and present a united opposition to the PAP.

The answer has been given above: Pride. Personality. Ego.

What Low & WP did with JBJ and Eric Tan was to show that WP was not going to be a party of personality or a party beholden to "seniority" (Eric Tan over Gerald Giam). So what potential new "recruits" could expect from joining WP, was to be sidelined for the greater mission, the greater purpose. Candidates would be chosen and supported based on their ability to move the opposition forward. Not for their historical contributions, or their personality, or their charisma alone.

That means if CSJ, or VW, or KJ, or TJS were to join the WP, they may well be sidelined and passed over when it comes to being MPs or even NCMP, if they are not the best person for the job.

These men of ego would never submit themselves to such "meritocracy".

So if Tan Jee Say wants to start a new party. It is his right. Maybe he has a valid reason. Maybe he truly has an alternative vision to the PAP, or the WP.

Maybe.

But may I say, I seriously doubt it.

[Update 26 May: He announced the launch of the "Singaporean First Party". I guess he was too modest to call it the "Tan Jee Say First Party". Should there be an apostrophe "s" after "Say"?]

1 comment:

Dicolinus Dex said...

Have spoken to both Eric Tan and Gerald Giam before. I must admit that LKT know the voters well. Voters will be more comfortable with Gerald than Eric. Eric appears to be like the Chinese towkay which most working class don't like. To the many working class, the towkay alike Eric is the embodiment of the suppressive job market where towkays prefers cheap foreigners than locals which give rise to the strong anti-foreigner atmosphere that Singapore is in now. Gerald is also a better choice than Eric because he is more of the 'intellectual' type which will bond well with younger voters. There was a big fight over Gerald's appointment to the NCMP, but personally, I think LKT had made the right choice. Eric is the type who shot his mouth off without facts and any substantial argument. He will get the party into trouble if he shot his mouth off before using his head in parliament. LKT had also looked into the fture where groomming the Gerald is much younger and will be a better bet for the next GE.