Saturday, January 26, 2013

Singapore Workers Party win at the Punggol East elections. Are they and Singaporeans working at cross purposes

Ladies and Gentlemen,

With the recent win by the opposition Workers Party at yesterday’s by election at Punggol East, this interesting question arises; are they and their voters working at cross purposes.

Watching the following video of their interview after their victory, their chief Low Thia Khaing and chairwoman Sylvia Lim keep repeating their purpose in contesting elections, which is to keep the ruling PAP in check and to enable them (the PAP) to provide a better government.

More than once they have described their purpose with the analogy of a driver and a front seat passenger in a car. If the driver(meaning the ruling party in government) doses off, they (the Workers Party) would knock him on the head to wake him up. More like an observer making sure the government does its job.

Please see the video below

This role which they have adopted is not what parliamentary democracies around the world are accustomed to. Elsewhere, the opposition contests elections to replace the ruling party and assume leadership themselves. Whereas in Singapore, the Workers Party intend to do no such thing. They on the other hand are content to play a supporting role like a watchdog for the ruling party, hoping that Lee's PAP will continue to rule Singapore, I suppose forever. Therefore the question arises, are they an opposition party or are they working for the ruling government.

The Singapore voters on the other hand, watching the boisterous celebrations after the Workers Party win, I suspect are not content merely for the Workers Party to play a supportive role for the PAP; instead they have had it with them and want them out, completely. They, as can be expected anywhere else, want a change of government.

It appears, the Workers Party and the Singapore electorate are therefore working at cross purposes. To take an example from contract law, the situation is described as mutual mistake. I am guessing the facts of the actual case as I no longer remember the details. In a case in the 19th century, when there was no means for modern instant communication or travel as today, a buyer in England thought he was buying a horse, while the seller in another part of the world thought he was selling a cow, neither having seen the animal before they agreed. Finally at the time of performance, it was discovered that the subject of the sale was neither a horse nor or cow but a donkey! It appears the English judge hearing the case correctly dismissed it, on the ground of mutual mistake!

I fear in this Workers Party victory, we may also have a case of mutual mistake.

But on the whole, although I am not altogether happy with a Workers Party win, still I am very happy with the fact that Lee Kuan Yew's PAP lost. Although presently the Workers Party are functioning as if they were part of China's Communist Party where factions within it play a role of criticizing the government when the need arises, I expect, as time goes on, when more and more capable Singaporeans join them, they may slowly be forced to become a defender of the people and become more like a democracy as is generally understood.

I expect next time, more Workers Party would be elected and we will eventually see Lee’s PAP out, unless of course martial law is ordered.

Gopalan Nair
Attorney at Law
A Singaporean in Exile
Fremont, California, USA
Tel: 510 491 4375


Anonymous said...

I wrote in your previous post about "Being a firebrand in Singapore just serve the PAP agenda."

Once again, I stress that it is more important to rehab Singaporeans into the idea that they do not need to vote PAP. In recent years, there have been a number of firsts.

2011, a Group-MP ward falls to opposition.

Since then, PAP has woken up and is clumsily trying to re-engage the people.

But PAP is not attracting members. Instead, WP is the party of hope.

Singaporeans will keep WP in check. WP stay true to the WP founding by invoking David Marshall's speech

"Don't let anyone deaden your passion and courage; you are Singapore"

Let's hope that no single Singaporean will be able to control so much Singapore institutions. The power of LEE Kuan Yew is a lesson that should never be forgotten.

Meanwhile :
What was Dr Chee doing? He was ineffective because PAP made him a bankrupt!

Gopalan Nair said...

But will Low Thia Khiang dare to question Lee on his $3.7 million salary, the kangaroo courts of Singapore, freedom of speech expression and assembly, nepotism, corruption? If he did, he would be made bankrupt too.

Anonymous said...

Mr Gopalan,

In my humble opinion,

Everyone in Singapore knows about LKY salary, but what can they can do something about it.

Singaporeans know what is wrong with the PAP govt.

Singaporeans' confidence to kick out PAP can only be built if a credible Opposition with economic credentials experience is there to take over.

At the same time, if more talented Singaporeans join the Opposition, it will lay the ground for a more resilient Singapore by reducing PAP influence, based on people rejecting PAP's media judiciary stranglehold.

People power is not good enough to confront the crimes of LKY.

Someone commented about the Sun Tze Art of War.

Voting opposition, it is easier the second time.

A bankrupt Low Thia Khiang will do both non-PAP voters and the Opposition no good.

Low is a worry for PAP.
Chee is not. Because PAP does not know how to deal with someone who bypass every booby trap that stop opposition.

We know that the fear of political chaos will push Singaporeans into PAP bosom, just like those Russians who are nostalgic over the USSR.

Supar Yop said...

Congratulation to Workers Party on their recent election victory!As a Malaysian I am proud to hear this news across the causeway.
Wonder what their by product ( DAP )here got to comment about this?

Hope there will be more giant killers in time to come.

Anonymous said...

If Singapore has an viable alternative government, do you think PAP is still running a gov?

Lee Kuan Yew will be in Changi Prison for treason!

Anonymous said...

Gopalan, I posted earlier on your topic that KJ shouldn't have been fighting the BE and disagreed with you and said Singaporeans are being fooled once again. Yes I wasn't too far from the truth.
There is no reason to join the victory lap at least for the people like us, as it's clear from Low's comment that he is in no mood of fulfilling the people's aspiration and take the battle to the next level. Low Thia Kiang and WP is doing the dirty job of controlling the unhappy mass who want to topple the government.
There is nothing to be happy from this victory except the fact naive Singaporeans are getting a bit bolder.
There isn't any light still visible out of the tunnel what you have started thinking there is. PAP and WP are on the verge of playing a third world pseudo-democracy where people would eventually get frustrated and embrace the authoritarianism back.

As far as Dr. Chee is concerned, I think he's still on the right track and as what I see the level of awareness and understanding of democracy by the Singapore electorate they aren't in for concept like freedom of speech, importance of free media and value of peaceful assembly and protest and neither the ruling party nor WP is willing to take a step forward on any of these issues.
Dr. Chee needs to wait for his time to step in when the level of frustration reaches couple of notches higher and presumably at the expense of WP as sooner or later ruling regime need to take steps to handle the creation of their own devil and break the hope of the people.
It's a bit sad state but kinda chicken and egg story, we can't really blame people for their lack of understanding without proper freedom of expression and free media in place, now what we see is nacent state where people are being blown wherever they think the wind is strong.
The game has just begun and it's a long way to go with number of ups and downs, there isn't any easy way out like throwing the govt out and replacing with WP.

Anonymous said...

WP did highlight their plans - capture enough seat to block PAP policies while they attract more talents to form an alternative government.

The WP today, does not have the talents and manpower required to take over Singapore.

I believe they are treading very carefully and as a voter, I am pleased that they are careful as it is display of control, patient, maturity and most importantly - intelligent strategy.