The term “level playing field” is often used wrongly in Singapore politics, just like the term “opposition party”.
The term “level” really means the rules apply to all parties equally and thus all parties have the same chance to win, although we know in real life some competitors will always be stronger than others.
Technically, the rules are the same for all parties in Singapore: same election deposits, same GRC reqmts, same restrictions on donations, same limits on political videos, same permit requirements for rallies, etc.
So PAP says the field is “level”.
When parties other than the PAP ask for a “level” playing field, what they’re really asking for is an “easier” playing field, ie less election deposits, no GRC’s, no restrictions on foreign donations, etc.
And the reason they’re asking for this is because these parties are small and weak, thus they can’t compete with PAP when all these rules are in place.
What they fail to see is the what they need to do to take on the PAP, given the rules of the game here.
It’s not that the rules are “unfair” per se. So what if it is? PAP is not going to change them for you, no matter how much you cry-father-cry-mother.
It’s that the rules favour viable, genuine political competition.
Not kuching-kurak parties trying to win a seat here and there to get into opposition. But a genuine two-party system, with a party equal in stature and size to the PAP and willing and able to challenge it for power.
Yet instead of reading the writing on the wall and engaging in M+A, “opp” parties and their supporters go on and on about the unlevel playing field because their small little parties can’t fight the PAP under the current rules.
Yes, that’s absolutely right. If a flyweight takes on a super heavyweight in boxing and gets knocked out in Round 1, does he complain that the playing field is not level? Or does he accept that he shouldn’t be fighting a heavyweight, and he goes away to bulk up?
Businessmen accept these market realities. They don’t complain that the playing field is level, just because the competition is so much bigger, just because Microsoft is the 800-lb gorilla.
They do M+A.
I work in the exchange business where there’s a lot M+A going on. As you know, SGX is buying ASX, LSE wants to buy TSX and now Deutsche Borse wants to buy NYSE.
The CEOs all read the writing on the wall and they know they must grow bigger to survive. Without merging, they know they won’t be able to stand up to much larger competitors, and that no amount of complaining about unfair playing fields will help.
Shouldn’t our “opp” leaders quit bickering and do M+A so that they can put forth, as a single party/coalition running on a single ticket, at least 50 candidates so that they can challenge PAP for the right to form a Govt?
Why can’t they join forces to combat the PAP? It’s not basic idealogy or political philosophy which separates political parties here.
If you analyse the manifestos of all the other parties in Singapore, they all say the same thing: less govt intervention in the market, more subsidies for the needy, more freedom, etc.
It’s scary how similar the other political parties are in Singapore. So this begs the question: why form so many tribes when they are essentially genetically so similar?
To make the point very clear: a small country like Singapore does not need 10 or 20 political parties. The market is too small, simple as that. If people want to be niche players, that’s their choice. But from a marketers’ perspective and as a strategist, I’ve to say it’s the wrong choice.
Especially given the rules of the game in Singapore, which aren’t going to change any time soon.