Opposition Parties - Just a Bunch of Crabs in a Bucket

Have anyone wondered what is my political alignment? My friends regard me as 'anti-establishment'. I'm sure if you read more than a few posts of the blog, you may agree with my friends.

I disagree but more about that the next time.

If anyone of you did the feat of reading my entire blog, you'll notice that I have no inclination towards any opposition parties.

In the 2011 election, I've attended rallies of all major opposition parties (sorry SDA), just to see who became more or less sucky since 2006. There are some improvements of course. SDP printed really nice backdrop for their stage. WP's adopted that wtf ugly blue as their party colours. Apart from that, Chen Show Mao was a surprise. SPP was near disintegration to me even before the recent debacle. NSP was all hype and hot air. RP was, really young.

If you observe a bucket of crabs for a few minutes and come back another few minutes later, you'll noticed nothing has quite changed. Each crab is still trying to tear each other down just to get an inch closer to the top whereby working together will have them easily succeeding to at least getting a couple of them out in no time.

But not stupid, selfish crabs. And not stupid, selfish oppositions with the crab mentality.

Nothing will change in 2016. Oppositions will be still dividing the votes, slating and clawing one another down when they feel like it. The incumbent will get away scot free once again with their latest erroneous term.

The PAP probably deserves to emerge victor just by being able to keep their team appearing united. Yes, I do not believe the PAP is One. They are just pieces of fissures and cracks held up firmly with chains. 

A chain though, is only as strong as its weakest link.


  1. I don't think there is any credible oposition party till date.. individuals, maybe. but as a party, no...
    wait long long before we'll see a changing of guards.
    and I think most people do not want an opposition party to run the show. to put some pressure on the government? yes, but that's about it.
    we are too comfortable with the ruling party, although we are moe vocal nowadays

  2. I tend to agree. In between now and an eventual date when the opposition takes over the government, a few things need to be done.

    First, the opposition has to be an effective dissident force. Which is merely to oppose the PAP.
    Then the opposition has to articulate their policy and beliefs. Which means they have to have their own ideas on how to run this place.
    Then they need to implement and run effective internal governance.
    Then maybe they might start to have their own experience running things.
    And finally they can think about taking over the government.

    All these things take time. In the meantime, factions appear and disappear. People will try things out, test waters here and there, argue with each other. All these things are inevitable. You have to be nuts if you think they're going to topple the PAP overnight. I saw the opposition expand from 2 seats to 4 seats in 1991. And I'm still astounded that it took 20 years between then and now for the opposition to take a second step forwards.

  3. Also Singaporeans need to behave like citizens in a mature democracy, which means they can participate in the decision making process, hold opinions about government policy, have some notion of what needs to be done, what can be done, etc. Singaporeans are not mature enough yet.

    1. Personally, I am more incline to say that the state of the "opposition" is more a reflection of the state of the electorate. I won't go so far as proclaiming that Singaporean are - as you put it - "not mature" enough. In any case, what do you mean by the term "mature"?

      When you say that Singaporean need to behave in a certain way so they, as you put it, CAN participate in the decision process. The use of the world suggest that Singaporeans are unable. Well for me the issue is not that Singaporean is NOT ABLE or CANNOT.

      First of all, to suggest that Singaporeans as a whole are not able presupposed that all Singaporean think a like. Now it is worth noting no society in the world, even under dictatorship, have people thinking in the same way. Within any society, there will be some people who agree with the status quo (e.g. PAP voters), some believe in change (e.g. SDP and RP voters) and, some a mixture status quo and change (e.g. WP and NSP). At the moment the votes are evenly split. As long as that happens it is natural to see a fragmented "opposition" because the voters are fragmented anyway.

      Secondly to speak of "opposition" as being ineffective is to assume that somehow the "opposition" is a separate entity from the voters. Likewise, the PAP. The strength of any political party is draw from the voters. It is the voters that has the power to do so not only in the ballot box but willingness to join in the cause. Current, it is far to say that there is no predominant in the directions the voters want to push. If they want to push for change the SDP would become the strongest but at the moment voters prefer the Wishy Washy WP amongst the "opposition" camp and more prefer to keep the status quo. The issue isn't the fact that the "opposition" is not effective because ineffective opposition people can be replaced it is just that people are not pushing for change in these parties. The same applies to the PAP hardly effective when it comes to selling policies but it is lucky that people don't want to rock the boat so no matter how crap the ministers are it get voted in.

    2. I would say mature as in - well my previous comment had a list of the stages that the opposition needs to go through. Right now they are not advanced at all - only at the dissident stage.

      Democracy does not mean that magically your government will be good. Otherwise the Philippines will be the best place in the world to live. So when I say "can" it means whether they can make a democracy work so that it doesn't end up as a lanjiao democracy like the Philippines.

      When I see comments by Singaporeans on YahooSG they don't give me the impression that Singaporeans are thoughtful and intelligent. Of course there are thoughtful and intelligent people out there but not so many of them. Maybe on YawningBread.

      Then maybe you read the Guardian and see how UK people comment - their country is probably in a slightly more shit state than Singapore but you can tell they understand the issues with government a little better. Singaporeans are improving, but they need more time to be more mature politically.

      By more mature politically we need more people to understand the political process, how decisions are made in ministries. Need to understand economics: no minister in a real democracy will be able to say that raising the GST will benefit the poor because the people there understand economics. Need for people to understand what sectors Singapore should be in, what are the pros and cons, etc.

      Right now, a lot of people when they talk about politics they usually talk about very general things like "the PAP is trying to bluff us again", or "things in Singapore are too expensive" or "we don't have rights".

      But we don't have a lot of debate over the underlying issues: what sort of political reform do we want? Should we nationalise the transport system? What should the budget be like? What education policies should we have?

      Unlike you I don't believe that the PAP is totally screwed up. Neither do I believe that the WP is not a true alternative. I also don't think that the opposition should consolidate and merge into 1 party just yet. There are 3 opposition parties right now, if you believe that KJ will never be able to lead RP properly, and SPP is finished. All 3 of them need to figure out now what they stand for - ie it's not enough to attack PAP's vision, they must have a vision of their own. Meaning, all 3 of them must have their own "ministry of finance", "ministry of health" etc, able to articulate what they want to do if they get power. Then a lot of them will switch sides between the 3. That should be the main goal, not trying to get power. Power will come possibly within 20 years, they have to get ready now. If the opposition wants to quarrel, this is a necessary step on the road to democracy. This is what I mean by "maturity". Forget about pushing for change. First answer: change to what?

    3. I am not sure you can draw from a few personal observations and conclude that all Singaporeans are immature and that a nation must reach maturity before one can be trusted with democracy. Yes, there are times I personally feel that my fellow Singaporeans are not mature but I have to be honest to myself, I can't use my view of maturity to judge others. Who is to say I am right and others are wrong?

      If you talk about the maturity of a nation of people, that is even more complicated. If we say Singaporeans or groups of Singapore (e.g. Political Party) are immature, then what is the criteria for judging when something become "mature"?

      You cite the example of UK's guardian newspaper as measure of maturity but the fact is more people in the UK read the Sun Tabloid with topless women than the guardian. More people in the UK watch reality TV than current affairs programme. So does that make the British people more mature than Singaporean? Footnote, personally when I am in the UK it feels to me a more mature nation but that is my opinion and I would necessary say Singaporean are less mature.

      As for political party being immature, my personal feeling is that the SDP is probably more thoughtful and clear about their policies than other parties. Much of their policies are quite diametrically opposite to the PAP for example, Singapore First, welfare payment. In overall terms the SDP are really trying to bring about a less Kian See attitude that will not only be good politically but could have an impact on bringing about a more entrepreneurial society. This is in contrast to the WP who seemed only interested in adopting the PAP agenda but maybe refine with different emphasis in form than substance. Now as you can tell, I am, given a choice would be more align with SDP offering than WP. However, I also know from my own straw polls, that many Singaporean feel that SDP is too "radical". So is SDP more immature than WP? Or is it the other way?

      What about people who voted for the PAP? Are they immature because the kind of bad policy inflicted on them by the PAP and they still vote for the party?

      One man's maturity is another's radicalism. So who is the judge of maturity?

      Oh is Australian more mature than Singaporean? Are they political parties there more mature?

    4. I am not making the same argument as the PAP that people should not participate in a democracy because they will always be immature. Democracy will come, and Singaporeans will have to be ready for it in the near future. What I am saying is that right now, they have not reached that level. And that they have to work hard to get to that level. What I do believe is that if democracy comes before we are ready for it, we will be in trouble. Or maybe we will learn fast - hopefully.

      That is not the same as saying that all Singaporeans are immature. But that we do not have a lot of experience with democracy and we don't really know how to handle it yet. I don't mean the kind of "democracy" with all PAP and 1 Chiam and 1 Low. I mean real democracy. Saying that Singaporeans are ready for democracy is like saying that we know how to swim when we've never been in the water. So yes I think that Australians are more mature than Singaporeans.

      You have Singaporeans making dumb comments on YahooSG, and you have UK ppl making dumb comments on the Sun. But do you see Singaporeans making comments with the level of intelligence as those on the Guardian? Only on 1 or 2 blogs, at the most.

      It's easy to say that Singapore can have welfare payments and I think that they need to do more to help the poor. But I don't think Singapore can afford to pay able-bodied people who can work.

      A lot of people criticised Singapore for keeping too much foreign reserves, but how many people understand that that was the reason why Singapore was not affected so badly by the Asian financial crisis?

      I don't fully agree with SDP. I don't agree with Tan Jee Say's idea to get rid of the manufacturing jobs because I can see that it screwed up the USA. But I agree that the current government is not really encouraging entrepreneurship, and they are content with making the cost of living very high because it benefits a few people they are friendly with.

      To me the SDP is mature in the sense that they are thinking about policy and articulating it. But they don't have experience. That applies to Tan Jee Say: if he were to be PM tomorrow, and implements his master plan, what would he do if that plan turns out to be disastrous? You can even say that his plans are not mature because they haven't been debated over by enough people. And SDP also lost in Holland- Bukit Timah because they didn't walk the ground enough.

      I believe that we need an opposition. But I also believe that the opposition is not ready, and also if they took over the government tomorrow, a lot of people working for them will sabo them. Yes, I actually believe right now they will do a worse job than the PAP. But they will improve, so the issue now is to give them a chance to develop and grow.

      So I wouldn't say that all Singaporeans are immature but there are not enough Singaporeans who are politically engaged. That is my assessment. Like the PAP, I don't think we are ready for democracy right now. Unlike the PAP, I think we will get there one day.

    5. you said: "Democracy will come, and Singaporeans will have to be ready for it in the near future".

      What do you mean by that?

      Democracy is not some alien that will suddenly land in Singapore unannounced.

      Or do you mean the day when the PAP and the PAP friendly institution becomes in effective, if not corrupt, and suddenly people find there is no alternative to turn to?

      Or do you mean the day will come when more oppositions get voted in and the institutions of state, such as civil servants, the mainstream media, etc. don't know how to cope? If this is what you mean, then maybe there is a case, as you put it, that Singaporean is not at that level.

      Whether Singaporean is ready for it or not, I am afraid in life, quite often one is never ready because events often catches you when you are least ready. Hey, even so called mature democracy often get caught out by events. Take the British, for example, the country has not had any experience with a coalition government and their institutions are designed to cope but they muddle through. Or what about the fact that Obama and even your Aussie PM , Gillian, who have never held office but suddenly becoming the President and PM of their respective country? Or Nelson Mendala, who was a dissident in jail and then suddenly becoming the President.

      I won't debate about the merits or demerits of the SDP or Tan Jee Say, that is a debate to be had at another forum. As the point of the current debate is about the readiness of of Singaporean to embrace, to use the term loosely, -- democracy or more accurately multi-party environment -- then I don't think you can say that any political party, including and especially the PAP, has any experience. If or when that day come, will the Singapore society -- the electorate, the institutions of government and commercial interest -- at large cope? Well, who knows. You and I may have our opinions and our opinion may not come true.

      The fact is that a multi-party political scene can only come only if people are willing to vote for it -- i.e. in Singapore case vote enough oppositions to reduce the PAP share of seats in Parliament. A multi party scene -- or democracy as you put it -- is not going to come out of the blue. Just like war, no amount of planning is going to survive the first contact with the enemy. In other words, when the day multi-party politics comes Singaporean will have to just like "mature" countries have to cope with it.

    6. OK, I see you roughly understand my viewpoint now.

  4. Very interestic article - We have not a oppostion here in Switzerland. The Federal Council constitutes the federal government, directs the federal administration and serves as collective Head of State. It is a collegial body of seven members, elected for a four-year mandate by the Federal Assembly which also exercises oversight over the Council. The President of the Confederation is elected by the Assembly from among the seven members, traditionally in rotation and for a one-year term; the President chairs the government and assumes representative functions. However, the president is a primus inter pares with no additional powers, and remains the head of a department within the administration.

    The Swiss government has been a coalition of the four major political parties since 1959, each party having a number of seats that roughly reflects its share of electorate and representation in the federal parliament. The classic distribution of 2 CVP/PDC, 2 SPS/PSS, 2 FDP/PRD and 1 SVP/UDC as it stood from 1959 to 2003 was known as the "magic formula".

  5. Wow so that's how proportional representation works? Well we inherited the first past the post system from the British, which is why we will only ever have at the most 2 major parties at any one time - the third party will have no chance of participating in government other than as a minor partner in a coalition.

    If Singapore wants a Swiss Standard of Living we should actually seriously consider proportional representation!

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