Monday, February 09, 2009

Opposition Parties : The road ahead....

"It was already quite directionless as the panelists presented their carefully prepared seven minutes each, but at question time, the wheels fell off the whole project."

- Alex Au, reporting on the "Opposition - where to" forum.

I suggest before talking about opposition unity, they should discuss how to get out of each other's way and avoid opposing each other instead of the PAP. Before I get on with the topic, I have a few trekking stories to share.

When I was in JC, I joined the Outward Bounds Activity Club(OAC). One of the goals of the club was to nuture leadership qualities of participants but it bred many Indian chiefs through its activities instead. During one of the trekking trips, the group split into 2 - one wanted to take a short cut through the forest as they were dead tired, the other wanted to take out seemed to be longer but safer route. They couldn't agree and went separate ways but both groups manage to the same destination. The moral from this simple story is there is more than one way to skin a cat....and different people may choose different methods to get the same outcome based on their inherent strengths and weaknesses.

9 years ago, I went to Taman Negara, the huge nature reserve in Malaysia, with a friend. Being cheapskates we decided to trek from our resort to one of the many caves without hiring a guide. We made a few wrong turns and found ourselves in big trouble. We were three quarters of the way there and it was getting dark. There was no way we could get back to the resort before dark. We decided to turn back anyway because we passed by a village on our way to the cave and that was one possible place to sleep during the night without getting eaten by wild animals. Just as we started making our way back we met a guide and told him about our plight. He had a walkie talkie and was able to arrange for a boat from the resort to pick us up along a river that was located next to the cave. We were delighted our problem was solved and we resumed our trek to the cave. We got to the cave and found the entrance. The entrance was really narrow and one would have to enter sideways. We didn't enter the cave because the cave was pitch dark and we forgot to pack the flashlight. We were damn angry with each other because we expected the other person to remember this piece of critical equipment to explore the cave....and we trekked for 7 hours through muddy terrain for nothing! We gave up on cave exploration and made our way to the river. The boat arrived to bring us back to the resort. The boatman chatted with us and asked us what we were up to. When we mentioned that cave, he looked a bit stunned. He told us that the cave was full of cobras..had we gone in, I probably wouldn't live to tell this story. The moral is this - when the journey is uncertain, you can't be sure of the right way to get things done so don't waste time fighting about it....sometimes you can get lucky and your mistakes can actually save you. Okay enough trekking stories...lets go back to those opposition chaps.
If you have been a netizen long enough, you would have figured there are broadly speaking 2 camps in the opposition. One believes that effort should be expended on changing the political system by pushing the boundaries and the other believes it can live with the system and gain some power within it to make changes later. One wants to eliminate GRCs, the other is actually trying to win a GRC and build some support. Who is right?

.....I will continue with this post and let you know what I think a little later but please post your views on this. Would like very much to hear you on this one.


Dog said...

I think the problem lies with the gahmen fearing voters. If I don't like pap to continue being the tyrant, I should vote against without hesistation. Instead I fall into pap's trap of demanding an opposition who can match the pap or excel.

Anonymous said...

Of all the opposition parties, SDP appears to have the strongest and clearest ideological clarification and stand. End of the day ideas are bulletproof and futureproof.

Anonymous said...

Always remember that one of the tactic LKY used is to plant his people in the opposition to sow discords, engineer conflicts and cause disrutptions within the opposition ranks.
Genuine opposition members must distinguish themselves from these pap implants by being more accormodating and tolerant of each other's differences to show a united front to the public. Internally the pap is fractured but externally they showed a united front.
The implants will highlight the differences and aggravate it. The genuine opposition people will try tolerate these differences and move on. The most important is MOVE FORWARD even when there are differences. The measure of opposition success should be how much ground they have made into the pap territory.

Anonymous said...

I have full respect for Chee SJ as well as Low and Sylvia.

I am also glad that Low and Sylvia is taking a different track, if not they would be decimated and declared bankrupt for opening their mouths.

My only wish is that more able PAP MPs will review the budget talks, and if possible, join up with WP to come out with a viable, stronger opposition party, one that is more pro citizens than pro-corporate citizens. (ie $4.5 bil job credit scheme for undeserving companies with mega millions paid CEO, but not $300 for retrenched poor - you get me point...)

Anonymous said...

Opposition party leaders ought to vet much more carefully those who wish to join the party, otherwise they could be in for some nasty surprises if there are people joining just to sabotage the opposition voice. I know it is not easy to do that, when they are just scrapping the bottom of the barrel.

I will never vote for candidates who moved from one party to another for reasons best known to themselves. I think Chiam and Low have gone through that experience and are more wary of people joining and jumping ship at the slightest differences in views. The standing of the opposition parties have suffered as a result of such people.

After this economic crisis, I hope Singaporeans realise that the PAP is just like any other political party in Government in the world, and are unable to mitigate much the people's difficulties, despite their trumpeted claim to having the best talents in the world.

Singapore is not the master of its own economy, so said the MM. But he did not say that they should therefore not be getting out of this world salaries either.

Lost Citizen

Anonymous said...

If even the US is not the master of its own economy, how can a tiny red dot be a master of its own economy in this globalised economy?

Saying the obvious as an excuse to sidetrack the immense problems caused by Temasek's reckless throwing away of our taxpayers' good money for bad failing banks and also contributing to the downfall of a democratically elected Thai Govt, and trying to monopolise the Indonesian telecoms.

What extraordinary talents and outstanding leadership? Full of Bulls!

Those days of taking his words as the gospel truth is over!

Faith and trust have been lost. Legacy is going down the gutters.

Anonymous said...

Lucky, I think the problem does not lie entirely with the opposition. The people of Singapore need to support them albeit that they are not perfect. Everyone loves to attend the opposition rally. But, when the opposition get sued for "slander", Singaporeans did nothing. How can we expect the few good men/women to run for politics?

Anonymous said...

Your two stories are very enlightening... There are certainly one way than one to reach Rome, Beijing or Bombay (they called Mumbai now).

I used these words often when I trained my subordinate in my earlier career...

I cannot agree with you more that there are more than one route to take by the opposition..

Lets hundred flowers bloom..

Anonymous said...

Hi Lucky,

I feel it's a evolutionary process that will have to take its due course. Unity amongst opposition can only happen over time. At this point, there will be camps which back the various routes, and not realising some 'mistakes' are actually good for us (using your analogies).

I like Yawning Bread's take on this matter - the fact there are the old-timers and the new-generation of opposition (or pro-opposition) groups. Clearly, it seems that the 2 groups are as different as day and night now. But there can be strength in differences & diversity. There is no need to beat ourselves over the differences. The answer will lie somewhere in between the 2 ends of the scale, albeit a bit more towards the "new-generation politics" (which is more eloquent, more strategic, less chest-thumping, and definitely more rational). It is important to be extra careful and play within the rules (even though those rules seem to be created in favour of the Govt).

Over time, I belief the quality, quantity and confidence of the opposition members and their supporters will only increase. There is also some light from the other end of the tunnel; the PAP govt seems to be self-destructing. They are too far up this ivory tower and will soon be in total disconnect with the people of Singapore. You can sense this on the ground already. Having said that, the PAP will not lose without throwing up more drama ie. more scare-tactics and suppressive measures. PAP ministers will be clinging on to their jobs like there's no tomorrow - and it's primarily because of the money. I believe (and hope) that eventually some of them will have the conscience that what they are doing is actually bad for the country and its people, and be courageous enough to defect.

It's a process which I hope will evolve sooner, rather than later. I also hope that changes in Singapore will take a gradual path, rather than let things come to a boiling point.

Anonymous said...

the opposition have a very tough road ahead because sinkies have a strange mentality.

someone posted the following analogy:

a sinkie go GL and saw a $500 besides the $200 pro.

he engage the $500 pro & ask the $200 to fxxx off.

the $500 pro refuse to do anything & even kick him in the nuts.

rather than going after the $500 pro for justice, he scolds & kicks the $200 pro instead, saying its because she is so lousy that he has to get the $500 pro.

does it make sense??

Anonymous said...

I say go for the latter, that is, win a GRC. That will put 6 people in parliament at one go.

But the cynical side of me says that PAP is so good at elections, such a thing will never happen.

Also, regardless of what people say, when it comes down to the point of voting, they will take the safer vote.

"i may not like PAP, but i truly dont know what the opposition is capable of either. I'd rather go with the lesser of two evils."


Anonymous said...

I beg to disagree. We already know what the PAP is like. Can the opposition be any worse? Maybe, but maybe not. Choosing the devil we know is not necessarily the safer path. It's like choosing a "sure to get killed" vs choosing a "possibility of getting killed worse or a possibility of staying alive". I'm all for letting the opposition have a go and if they're really all that bad, they'll be out at the next elections.

Anonymous said...

I think potong pasier and Hougang went for broke with Mr Chiam and Mr Low.

I hope the aljunied people will also go for broke with Ms Sylvia Low.

Onlooker said...

It's time to vote the opposition in.
The worst has already happened.
The "Failed investments" and the failure to address our (citizens not PR) concern first.
Of course the process will be hard. But it have to start somewhere.
Is the Bailing O a Conspiracy?
We will never know if we do not have people who have to be transparent and accountable ,due to the fact that we voted them and not packaged via GRC into parliament, asking those questions for us.
Opinion :- Vote in any alternative parties so long as they get a chance to represent us and given a chance to voice our concern and draft policies that will be beneficial to "EVERYONE"(the real silent majority that even president Ong had addressed and acknowledged) instead of the selected privileged few.

Anonymous said...

PAP will be invincible for at least the next 10 years because voting is "compulsory" and too many illiterate old folks + civil servants + bo chap females ...

Anonymous said...

I respect Dr. Chee for his relentless effort to fight oppression.

I respect Mr. Low and Ms Sylvia Lim for their efforts to win the PAP at their own game.

2 different paths, same hearts, that is for Singapore to be free. Let both camps agree to disagree.

Didn't the Republicans and Democrats shake hands and promise to work together after each election too?

Anonymous said...

Why is the PAP still flying its flag high and mighty? The reason is simple. We as Singaporeans are just not hungry enough for a change.

Examine the fall of every empire in history and you will realize the same pattern that is decadence. Empire falls when people rise. People rise when they learn that other than revolting, there's nothing else they can do to survive.

Perhaps we are just not at that stage yet. It takes time...

facts actually said...

Opposition: To push the boundaries and revolutionise the system, or to allow political evolution to run its course? Old-timers vs new generation.

Is there a possibility that this is what the existing governance is going through as well? Must it take an opposition to make the right changes?

Can a new generation in whichever camp respond to the calling of civil service, ultimately for the people?

People create and run the system. Why do we always emphasize on the flawed system when we should be focusing on getting the right people to the right fit, regardless whichever party it may be. Opposition is just a definitive that distinguishes and separates parties.

My take has always been to ride on the existing system and change from within. The political climate just does not allow any opposing ideologies to flourish and neither are Singaporeans ready for any radical changes at this point of time.

If your motivation is to serve the people right, then it really does not matter which camp you belong, opposition or not. Be true to yourself, and stop idle chatter. Log out from the web and stride in to serve. Serve with your heart, for the people.

Anonymous said...

do you know why people don't respond to the call to serve?

several reasons.

the capitalist's ideology don't instill in people to serve unless, they are properly rewarded - paid in millions for instance

the second reason i can offer you is that, you inevitably end up serving the "elites" rather than the people

no one gives a damn, not even those who're clamoring for change.

Anonymous said...

heck, even church leaders are justifying kingly sum and perks :)

how sick have we become? wa wa wa

Onlooker said...

So Uncle/auntie (facts actually), Have you joined the PAPers yet? Since you called for change from within and serving with your heart.
How does view in the ivory tower differ from the ground pray tell, Please?

All I know is:
If the Foodcourt owner add service charge again, both customer and supplier will leave and go to another cafe.
If they get more PReCious Beer lady (that broke up some marriages here except the cafe owner),they get less spending and earning from their long term customer(who have been affected).
Do the math.
In our foodcourt, almost all the stall are own by the foodcourt boss except maybe the satay stall which even now the foodcourt boss want to take over.So that one of his meritorious ka kia can own a stall and make him/herself look good.

The oppositions can reduce that effects.And maybe allowed the incumbent to become competitive again by introducing competitive measures.
The PAPer near monopoly of the system will only cause more harm in the future.
Because whatever they say/draft is unchallenged and just passed.What is in place to prevent them from passing more self serving policies?

facts actually said...

If no one really gives a damn, why are we even having a blog site to discourse about it?

Yes, we have been brought up in a pragmatic environment and our values built upon meritocracy, leading to elitism.

And seriously, does having an opposition party respond to the inherent issues of our handicapped society, a society which is incapable of critical thinking and a value system that works towards compassion? Possibly, but not necessarily.

One day the self-centric generation will pass, and a new generation will assume. We have a choice to how that generation can be. Choose to create that generation that you hope for it to be.

Personally, I’ve not responded to that call either. But I will, when I am ready. Civil service is not an easy path. When fully prepared and convicted, I definitely will. For my nation, it could be worth the while.

Anonymous said...

haven't read what some SDP members have to say but judging from the tone they seem to want WP to fall into line with them. I thought the call for unity for them is to mould every other opposition into the image of SDP. They believe their way is the only way to salvation for singapore. This is just my perception. WP wouldn't be WP if they start behaving like SDP. If opposition want unity they should focus on their similiarities and not their differences and trying to 'change' each other.I find it absurb that some elements start demanding other opposition follow their style and strategy for engagement. Again this is my perception. Plesae correct my perception if I am wrong. I just think that there is unecessary and unhealthy competition and it cripple each other before you even face the PAP. If there is anything to learn it is to accept and appreciate the differences and work together. If some party have this my way or the highway attitude, they don't sound too different from PAP. On the other hand Obama has chosen the inclusive message, to look beyond the differences and work together for the good of the nation.

Perception is not reality but certainly my personal reality.


Onlooker said...

I knew the "PRagmatic" argument will come up.
So firstly food for thought,It is pragmatic to Vote in someone else when the MP that you elected fail to deliver on his performance(at least in other countries without tea party).

The change cannot come within PAPers because they have been Gaming the system and moving the goalpost(GRC, eligibility, Court) all these time.
For Example,When JBJ won Anson,a Chinese majority constituents.He did so without the financial prowess that were leech off the citizenry.
Why? This is because he has been calling for transparency in the Land Sale process.BTW his wikipedia entry was also been vandalized by political Vandal pragmatically.
Who are the PAPers fooling,Just because they altered these popular media to the point that they are dubious does not mean they won.
It just prove that they have something to hide and cannot hide their guilty conscience.
That is until the Vandal suffer the consequence of their vandalism.
Because as history always proven, notoriety will always earn it place in history just as altruism did.

Fact actually:- One of your statement prove that you think poorly of your fellow Singaporean.That is if you are a Singaporean
"And seriously, does having an opposition party respond to the inherent issues of our >>handicapped society<<, a society which is >>>incapable of critical thinking<<< and a >>value system that works towards compassion?<< Possibly, but not necessarily."
Personally I found that disturbing because this is the 2 quality that our government seriously lacked.
critical thinking and compassion.

Without this 2 quality,our government have failed to serve our interest and thus deem unreliable to lead.Don't even mention their complacency.

I'm willing to let any Alternative parties a chance to prove themselves. Because Even If they fail (spectacularly),I can always vote them out the next election.
That's Democracy.
Even if it is one single vote, it is still my choice to give Alternative parties a fighting chance.
And put my country on the right course again.

Anonymous said...

Actually what concerns me most is not the methods but the motives. No matter how right or brilliant their methods, if the motive is for self-interest, forget it.

That said, I don't see why the APs cannot work together because their methods are not necessarily conflicting.

For instance, those who think winning GRCs is the way, go campaign in a GRC. If they don't agree, contest in a single ward. Why must they all fight for the same Tangjong Pagar or Ang Mo Kio?

Spread your resources and cooperate - that is the true spirit of teamwork and a real test of motives - whether it is for self-glorification or single-minded service to the people.

If they can't even be good team players, how can they possibly lead Singapore with a common goal? That will only result in what the PAP loves to highlight about other countries - politicians fighting and politicking more than getting productive work done.

Anonymous said...

The Elections Dept has been told to update its register of voters by 30 April 09. APs, are you ready?

Onlooker said...

I agree with anon 11:31.
two or more parties Going for strategic locations will only undermine their efforts.
The alternative parties need to get more party members voted in, not to decrease other parties chance in the constituents they competing for.