It must be clearly understood that Opposition Unity (OU), an elusive dream in SG’s short 50-year electoral history, is not an end in itself. It must not be. Voters will not be fooled. What’s the point if it’s only for show – without a clear, measureable goal?
My proposal of a form of OU is specific to the impending GE and is premised on a cold, calculating consideration and based on 2 premises.
One, it is unrealistic to vote PAP into insignificance. It will not happen for sometime yet. Even then, what’s the point? Everyone, including those we disagree with has a right to vote PAP.
Two, Lee Hsien Loong, as both Sec-Gen of PAP and current PM of the elected government has had more than 3 decades to show us his true character, capabilities and capacity for change. Additionally, given his pedigree and his recent questionable display of leadership (rescinding on publicly announcing the EBRC formation, asserting his own natural ‘aristocracy’, once-in-30-year SMRT breakdown and substandard public housing outcry without anyone of his aristocratic members being held to account whatsoever), He is clearly not the man to continue to lead Singapore. Or change the PAP beast LKY has built.
We have only 2 legal ways to change the current trajectory of where our Singapore is headed. One is to vote out the PAP, which we have discounted as unlikely to happen. The second is to force on PAP itself, beginning with their top dog, to make changes that we detractors – and even some PAP supporters – have been clamouring for.
As voting PAP into a parliamentary minority cannot be guaranteed, I therefore propose the secondary strategy of forcing upon PAP a radical change in its current leadership by combining Opposition resources to give PAP’s Sec-gen the proverbial ‘bloody nose’. In other words, Opposition parties should all unite for the singular and clear but limited goal of causing the worst possible electoral damage to candidate Lee Hsien Loong.
I reiterate that it’s a focused effort but one aimed exactly where it’s designed to work. Now, the thought experiment…
Imagine a team of candidates selected and formed to stand in the GRC where PM Lee helms his team (currently, AMK GRC). Imagine who the candidates are. The team will consist of candidates, one each drawn from the key Opposition Parties.
Now, imagine, all the resources of not one but all those Opposition Parties coming together, combined and co-ordinated to create the max impact during the 9 days of campaigning. Would that not be as strong as that of the PAP’s election machinery? Would that not be a show of OU – unambiguous, clear and focused to give Lee Hsien Loong a proverbial ‘bloody nose’?
Imagine further, on different but each night of the election rally, the Sec-gen of say, WP, SDP, SPP or SFP or RP stepping forward to appeal to the crowd, the voters, “We, so-and-so Party, call upon all our members and supporters in (assume) AMK GRC to put aside any disagreements and vote for our OU team of candidates. We’ll ensure that we act together in concert to serve AMK residents in unity and to your best interests. AMK voters, you hold in your hands the very key to effect changes for the rest of Singaporeans more than any other constituency. Your vote will send a message that PAP must change! That Singapore is ready to change!”
Don’t stop. Imagine more. On the last rally prior to going to the polls, ALL Sec-gens of the participating parties sit on stage and then rise up to a rousing show of unity of purpose – Vote Out Lee Hsien Loong for the change Singapore needs to begin, not 1, 3 or 5 years later, but NOW!
Before discussing the possible election outcomes, just imagine for a moment the impact of the formation of such an OU team. How would the PAP respond to such an unexpected turn of event and strategic threat? Can you imagine how Lee Hsien Loong, as leader of PAP, will be feeling from this astonishing development of calling his very existential value to his party into question? May it not pile the pressures on his party to try to ‘ensure’ their Sec-gen’s victory – by means foul or fair? Would the international press not be sending hoards to help ensure that no ballot boxes are found discarded and unaccounted for when they see possible electoral history in the making?
Imagine the morale of Opposition voters across Singapore when they all converge at Opposition rallies on their own while PAP offers bus rides and chicken rice to entice theirs. Imagine how fence-sitters and marginal supporters beginning to view the election from a different angle; that LHL’s use-by date is nigh and change can also be achieved via a different avenue. Imagine PAP supporters’ fear of defeat of their Sec-gen staring down their faces.
1. If LHL wins, what would the opposition lose in this act of OU? Nothing.
2. If LHL wins by a much smaller margin, the message of great discontent with his ways and leadership cannot be lost on Singaporeans and the world at large even if it is lost on the PAP. Singaporeans will look at LHL & PAP differently. World leaders will know that LHL is but a lame duck, hanging on to power by a thread.
3. If LHL’s victory margin in much less than that of his DY PMs or Ministers, PAP must soul-search themselves if they have a dud on their hands. Perhaps, against all expectations of his own ‘natural aristocracy’ roots, even LHL wakes up in time to be humble (something Tharman has repeated over and over in recent public encounters) and steps down.
No need to discuss the even-if improbable outcome of LHL being kicked out of his million$ job. The advantages are writ large: there is nothing to lose.
Aside from the less demanding terms of creating such an OU act of coming together to contest against PM Lee, here are some other benefits accruing to the Opposition.
– It sets the stage for a more amiable atmosphere to discuss how to avoid 3-corner fights for the rest of the other constituencies.
– It releases candidates from parties to contest elsewhere with a better chance of winning instead of the more probable outcome of losing 3, 4 Opposition party candidates against PM Lee team.
– The smaller, less demanding start with such a step towards some form of OU augurs well for Singapore politics against a PAP mammoth formed through exploitation of state resources and taxpayers’ money for private, political party gains.
…just to name a few benefits.
Readers will be able to imagine even more positive possibilities for Opposition Parties and, indeed, for Singapore.
Is it not obvious that there is nothing to lose but, without exaggeration, EVERYTHING to gain with such a show of limited OU this coming GE?
Still, let’s not be under any illusion that getting the Opposition Parties together is easy.
Regardless, if you agree with the thought experiment, please give your comments or suggestion to refine the approach further so that we can have a basis for Opposition Parties to negotiate with.
Time is short.
Change we Must.
End PAP’s dominance.