Are you “pro-opposition”? Or are you really rooting for PAP to change?

Lots of Singaporeans– in fact almost 40%– voted for “opposition” at the last Election. But when you ask them why they voted “opposition”, most say it’s because they wanted to express their displeasure at the “ruling” party’s high-handed policies, they want some “check” and “balance” in Parliament, they want PAP to be less arrogant, to listen to them, to address their concerns, etc.

In other words, they don’t really want “opposition”, what they really want is for PAP to change, they’re really just using “opposition” parties as a means to an end.

This is not good. It’s like a girl who kisses someone else just to make her regular boyfriend jealous because she wants him to change.

The “opposition” parties know this too, and they’re willingly dancing to this music hoping they can get enough dissatisfaction to get a couple of their own into Parliament.

This is not good for the people, it is not good for the “opposition” parties, and it is not good for the country as a whole.

There is nothing wrong with wanting PAP to change. But please go about it the right way. Go see or write your MP, tell him what you think the party is doing wrong. Meet the People sessions are not just to ask for help on hawker licenses or NS problems. 

If enough people complain to their MP’s, the party will get the message.

On the other hand, having a bunch of no-ambition politicians who do not want to challenge PAP seriously for power– despite contesting over 80 seats at the last Election– makes them the laughing stock of democratic countries worldwide.

Why go thru all the sacrifices, risks and effort if you don’t want to be in power?

It is a terrible vicious cycle: you think of yourself as a “checker” and “balancer”, you sell yourself to voters as a “checker” and “balancer”, you get voted in because people think you make a good “checker” and “balancer”, and you live your whole life thinking that the only way to stay in  Parliament is to be a “checker” and “balancer” because the idea of kicking PAP out of power might be too radical for the electorate. 

Before long you’ve celebrated 25 years as a “checker” and “balancer”, and people think you can be a “beacon” of the “opposition”.

It’s good that Tan Jee Say has spoken openly about forming a coalition govt in the next Election. I can see that the man is a true scholar– ambitious and high-achiever, unlike the mousy “opposition” politicians we’ve seen over the last 50 years.

I don’t like the man very much, and I don’t think the other parties will rally around him despite his impressive credentials, but at least he has the right ideals.

Hopefully we will find someone whom all the parties, including the Worker’s Party, can work with, even if they won’t rally around him. 

And 2016 will then see not only all 87 seats contested, but a real contest for power, not just a contest to be PAP’s “checker” and “balancer”.

Singaporeans deserve better than this, don’t you think?


1. Top 10 Misconceptions about Singapore Politics: Part I
2. What would you like to hear at the next WP/RP/SDA/Etc rally?
3. 5 More Misconceptions About Singapore Politics
4. There is no role for Opposition in Singapore
5. What the Opposition in Singapore Needs


About politicalwritings

Someone who sees beyond PAP and "opposition" in Singapore politics. To understand more please see the Top 10 link below.
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29 Responses to Are you “pro-opposition”? Or are you really rooting for PAP to change?

  1. homemadeprincess says:

    The analogy of the girl kissing the boy is poor and misleading…
    And how is talking to an MP going to help PAP change?? naive.

    Most of the 40% might not necessarily want PAP to be overthrown. But most will agree that it is not good either that the ruling party has monopoly over power and political knowledge and experience.

    Next. What is so bad being a check-and-balance? I think it is more dangerous if the 40% population who voted opposition, really wants PAP to go.
    And really dangerous if an opposition party really wants to take over the government in the near future, despite the fact that PAP has overall done a great job thus far.
    They really think they can do a better job? What does it speak of their motivation then? Power and greed?

    Anyone can see that for the greater good of the general population, it is better for PAP to continue to govern, at least for the next 10 years.

    And I really dunno if TJS has the “right ideals”.

    • Thanks for comments. I respectfully disagree, but thanks anyway.

      There’s nothing “dangerous” about parties wanting to take over; that’s what politics and democracy is all about. It’s only in Singapore that people think so, mainly because they’ve been brainwashed by PAP so.

      Just one example, look at what you wrote: it’s ok for PAP to aspire to power but when other parties do so, they’re driven by “power and greed”? How slanted can you get?

    • I think you got very shallow knowledge that PAP had sweep many wrong doings under the carpet. And you don’t understand what is the meaning of democracy and its our duty to struggle for a betterment society for our younger generation. Its too risky to be blind and governed by one autocracy government, we might one day wake up to find out that we are troubled in liabilities.

  2. steve choo says:

    There is much brainpower in the highly disciplined Workers Party to serve the people of Singapore. They are apparently not motivated by greed or power. Just watch their performance in the next few years. They may form a better government than the PAP. Time will tell.

  3. Dan says:

    The 40% probably feels that they have exhausted all means of reaching out to the ruling party and having been talked/dumbed down, applied their displeasure through the vote. Nothing wrong with this, just trying to bring Icarus down to earth, if you want an analogy. The 40% have registered their feelings, now the ball is in the other court.

  4. Andy W says:

    Power grapple is everywhere. Politicians who claim they do not want power is a hypocrite.

    The politicians have to give the electorate an IMPRESSION that they are not interested in power. That’s the key.

    • steve choo says:

      There have been and always will be politicians whose main objective is to serve the people and who are not motivated by power, fame or wealth. A shining example is Wang Yang Ming (1472–1529) of the Ming dynasty for whom Yang Ming San in Taiwan is named after. Nearer home, Lee Lam Thye, a Malaysian politician who was Bukit Bintang MP from 1974 to 1990 when he retired from politics, is one who served the people (and is still serving the people of Malaysia in other capacities) with great passion.

      In our own country there are such individuals both within the PAP and also the opposition parties whose passion for serving their compatriots is remarkable.

      The statement, “Politicians who claim they do not want power is a hypocrites,” is rather strange. Which politicians will make such a statement? However, there are politicians who are not motivated by power and what it can do to bring wealth and fame. To them, power is the opportunity to serve the people.

  5. cy says:

    workers’ party still need to build up their resources, talent and mass support before they can take over. Thus,it’s not wise to declare that they want to take charge when they are not ready. Voters will not have enough trust in them taking charge.

    using your analogy of girl kissing someone else, does someone else says he is willing to marry her when he is too poor and has few plus points to attract her? he has to build up his finances and capabilities before proposing to her. meantime,he can only bide his time,talk to her and wait for circumstances to change.

  6. Qzact says:

    I believe for this year’s election, the opposition party was not strong enough to make a real bid to be an alternative government, that is why they had to use being the ‘checker’ and ‘balancer’ of the governing party as a stepping stone to actually get into parliament. I do not believe this trend can continue however. If the opposition does not deliver/impress, they will probably not be around in the next election to continue being the ‘checker’ and ‘balancer’. However, if they do remain, it will mean that the electorate has given them their trust and they could possibly even gain more seats.

    Hence, I feel your post is a bit too forward. You are writing about things that you expect a truly matured electorate should be doing whereas I think we have only recently just reached puberty. Change cannot come immediately. In fact, such change, most people will not be able to take or accept. It has to come gradually in order for it to be more palatable. What more, for a country full of ‘cautious’ and ‘kiasu/kiasee’ people?

    • Thanks for comments. I fear you’ve fallen prey to another PAP brainwashing tactic. It’s not that the electorate is not “mature” enough to elect a new Govt. That’s what PAP wants you to believe. But even in the newest of democracies, electorates have shown they are perfectly capable of choosing any party to form a new Govt. Eg Burma, when the first free elections were held, people overwhelmingly chose the National League for Democracy for govt. You do not get any democracy less mature than Burma!

      No. The reason people aren’t ready to choose another govt is because the other parties haven’t fought elections to be in govt. They’ve only fought to be checkers and balancers.

      If you’ve read my related posts above, you’ll understand that the other parties have never fielded electable candidates till 2011. But for 2016, if Tan Jee Say says he’ll be PM of a new coaltion if elected, if Chen Show Mao says he’ll be Law Minister, if Tony Tan says he’ll be Defence Minister, etc and the coalition puts together 50-60 presentable candidates, I have no doubt that they can win the election against PAP.

      The maturity of the electorate has nothing to do with it. In fact, the main obstacle (apart from forming a coalition and finding someone who can lead it) will be the force of habit of the old voters, who have always voted PAP, and the fear-mongering by PAP who will claim that foreign investors will desert Singapore should there be a non-PAP govt.

      These are real obstacles and huge obstacles. But the maturity of the electorate is not an issue at all.

  7. ajohor says:


    As swing voters/centrist voters are normally the deciding factor, even in so called liberal (not friendly locations), the term used is that it is the government of the day to ensure net gains to the swing voters.

    Hence, commend WP CSM/SY et al, it will be basically the correct trajectory of Tweedledum and Tweedledee and economic policies and middleclass concerns will always be the deciding factor unless they decide to force liberalisation which they are not.


  8. goerge says:

    My dear friend,
    Do you really understand politics, with a capital P?
    You are also look in from the outside.
    Do you for instance also know what the PAP is up to?
    A simple answer to this one is , no you don’t.
    A simple answer to that one about the opposition too is, no you don’t.
    You are free to make your comments, of course, however ignorant.
    If you sincerely want to understand some of the things you have commented on, why not join a party – the choice of party is entirely yours of course!

  9. Jezebella says:

    Uhh… you probably forgot the feedback and etc. were called NOISE??

  10. kojakbt22 says:

    Any party (or dynasty), be it PAP, WP or whatever P, that dominates the country for too long will get arrogant and start to take the people for granted. They may have started off well, taking great care of the people and receiving approvals from the people initially but years, decades or centuries later, will inevitably begin to forget about their duties as Govt and take things for granted. Rapid fall follows. History has shown this time after time again.

    Hence, in a democracy, we need pluralism in parliament so that opposing parties can constantly fight to do good for the people. This is the best guarantee for us as citizens with regard to our well being.

    In this light, the good news is, according to Duverger’s law, constituencies that use first-past-the-post systems will become two-party systems, given enough time ( This is provided, of course, that PAP doesn’t meddle with our electoral system any further.

  11. Rosa says:

    I believe for this year’s election, the opposition party was not strong enough to make a real bid to be an alternative government, that is why they had to use being the ‘checker’ and ‘balancer’ of the governing party as a stepping stone to actually get into parliament. I do not believe this trend can continue however. If the opposition does not deliver/impress, they will probably not be around in the next election to continue being the ‘checker’ and ‘balancer’. However, if they do remain, it will mean that the electorate has given them their trust and they could possibly even gain more seats.

  12. JH says:

    Late to comment but the key assumption underlying most of your posts is that a one-party system will ultimately lead to failure. I’m not sure how true that assumption is though. Ultimately, what we want is a government which benefits the people. The question then, is how do we ensure that?

    One way is to have ‘checks-and-balances’ (which you so casually dismiss) and the other is have a ‘two-party system’. Has either been proven to be superior to the other?

    • Thanks for your comments. You’re mistaken re my assumptions though:

      1. I do not assume that “a one-party system will ultimately lead to failure.”

      2. I do not “casually” dismiss “checks and balances”. I very seriously dismiss it.

      3. I have not called for a “two-party” system.

      What I’ve called for is for political parties to distinguish themselves and for people to then vote according to parties which most closely match their own beliefs and vision.

      To give an example, the Republicans in the US are known as a party that favours big business, more hawkish on foreign policy, more conservative, pro-life, anti-gay, etc. etc. Their support base thus tends to be wealthy and more middle-class whites, rednecks, big business, military types, etc.

      Democrats on the other hand are seen as more liberal, gay-friendly, more likely to cut military spending, more pro-workers and small business, pro-choice, etc. They have more support from minorities, liberals, small business, etc.

      I would like to see Singapore’s parties distinguish themselves in this way. It cannot be that every party other than the PAP is more or less the same– all just wanting to “speak up” for the people in Parliament, all just here to raise “concerns” about cost of living, healthcare, etc.

      A party philosophy is the DNA which attracts the right kind of followers and also provides a bedrock for a party to handle anything.

      Whether the above leads to a two-party system or a multi-party system that results in coalition govts is not the main point to me. What is important is that we must have parties which can really represent the people. In the UK it boiled down to three parties, in Germany it is four, in the US it is two parties. But as you know, there are enough people in the US who are disillusioned by both parties that they’ve sought out a third. So there is no magic number.

      What I believe is that one PAP cannot properly represent all Singaporeans.

      • kojakbt22 says:

        According to Duverger’s law in political science, constituencies that use first-past-the-post systems will inevitably become two-party systems, given enough time.

        A two-party system often develops from the single-member district plurality voting system (SMDP). In an SMDP system, voters have a single vote which they can cast for a single candidate in their district, in which only one legislative seat is available. The winner of the seat is determined by the candidate with the most votes (ie, first-past-the-post, like in horse racing). This means that the SMDP system has several qualities that can serve to discourage the development of third parties and reward the two major parties.

        Duverger suggests two reasons why single-member district plurality voting systems favor a two party system. One is the result of the “fusion” (or an alliance very like fusion) of the weak parties, and the other is the “elimination” of weak parties by the voters, by which he means that the voters gradually desert the weak parties on the grounds that they have no chance of winning.

        Because the SMDP system only gives the winner in each district a seat, a party which consistently comes third in every district will not gain any seats in the legislature, even if it receives a significant proportion of the vote. This puts geographically thinly spread parties at a significant disadvantage. An example of this is the Liberal Democrats in the UK, whose proportion of seats in the legislature is significantly less than their proportion of the national vote. The Green Party of Canada is also a good example. The party received approximately 5% of the popular vote from 2004-2011, but had only won a single seat in the House of Commons in the same span of time.

        The second unique problem is both statistical and tactical. Duverger suggested an election in which 100,000 moderate voters and 80,000 radical voters are voting for a single official. If two moderate candidates and one radical candidate were to run, the radical candidate would win unless one of the moderate candidates gathered fewer than 20,000 votes. Observing this, moderate voters would be more likely to vote for the candidate most likely to gain more votes, with the goal of defeating the radical candidate. Either the two parties must merge, or one moderate party must fail, as the voters gravitate to the two strong parties, a trend Duverger called polarization.

        In countries that use proportional representation, especially where the whole country forms a single constituency (like Israel), the electoral rules discourage a two-party system; the number of votes received for a party determines the number of seats won, and new parties can thus develop an immediate electoral niche.

      • Thanks. I don’t agree with his theory, though of course “given enough time” is a huge catch-all. As Keynes said, in the long run, we are all dead.

        Anyway, I am not concerned about whether the number is two, three, four or five. What I’m against is the idea that there is just one main party and all the rest are just sideshows who exist to provide “alternative” voices to the main party.

  13. kojakbt22 says:

    Hence, the more that we should ensure that we have more than 1 party in the parliament so that the political parties can compete with one another for our attentions…. it’s like the situation when you have 2 or more guys chasing after a girl. Each one will try to outdo the others to please her… 🙂

    • But we have the wrong type of guys going after the girls now. They’re all competing to be the girl’s standby boyfriend.

      We need them to change their mindsets.

      This is one area where I agree with LKY. We don’t have a credible opposition. LKY asked, who is your prime minister? Who is your finance minister? Who is your defence minister?

      We have no one who wants to fight for the prime minister post, for the defence minister post, for the finance minister post.

      We have no one who wants to challenge the finance minister on our finance policy, or our defence minister on defence policy, etc.

      We only have people who want to raise “concerns”.

      That must change.

  14. kojakbt22 says:

    I think give oppo some time. Currently, I do see good people in oppo like for example, Chen Show Mao, Hazel Poa etc. Conversely, among PAP ranks with the so-called heavy weight “credible” ministers like Mah Bow Tan, Raymond Lim, Wong Kan Seng etc… do you think they are “credible”?

    • I don’t understand why you cite the fallen PAP angels. Obviously, they have gone out of favour. What is a pity is that they were not beaten at the last election.

      What is important is whether the rising stars– Chan Chun Sing, Josephine Teo, etc– along with the old guard– Ng Eng Hen, Khaw Boon Wan, etc– can be beaten.

      Can other parties provide candidates who not only look good on paper, but actually want to be ministers in a new coalition govt rather than just be checkers and balancers.

      • kojakbt22 says:

        What I’m trying to say is that the so-called “credible scholarly” PAP Ministers themselves are not so credible after all. Those fallen PAP angels are good examples. At one time, they were also being highly touted by PAP as “credible” people to govern the country. I recalled LKY even tried to compare Mah Bow Tan’s ‘O’ level results with Chiam’s. So, has Mah performed well as a Minister? Obviously not…

        Hence, I can’t say I agree with your assertion that we do not have a “credible” opposition… look at WP. If they are not credible, could they have won Aljunied GRC?

    • Thanks. I think you’re using a different definition of “credible” from mine, and from LKY.

      In your book, “credible” really means “electable”.

      Don’t get me wrong, “electable” is a very important quality of a politician. In the US a lot of time and money is spent to determine if a candidate is electable before he is presented to the party for endorsement and obtains his party’s blessing to run against the incumbent.

      “Electable” means the party believes the candidate stands a good chance of getting votes, has no skeletons in his closet, and will not make the party lose face even if he loses. That’s why the Republicans have all their Presidential candidate wannabes conduct TV debates, do fund-raising, etc. The Party will scrutinise each of them thoroughly for weaknesses before they endorse their official challenger.

      Singapore needs a lot more “electable” opp candidates because we’ve had too many unelectable loonies and tired old warhorses in the past.

      “Credible”, the way LKY and I use it, means a completely different thing. We’re not talking about the quality of one candidate vs another. We’re talking about one party vs another, what that party wants to achieve in politics.

      When LKY and I say there is no credible opposition, we mean they are not serious about mounting a political challenge to PAP. No party or coalition of parties wants to form a team to take on the Cabinet. No one wants to offer a team that has a shadow PM, Finance Minister, Defence Minister, Law Minister etc. to challenge the PAP.

      Until the other parties start fighting General Elections for what they really are– the right to rule and lead a country, not just a chance to become somebody’s check and balance– we cannot claim to have a credible opposition. Worse than that, we can’t even claim to have people who want to be a credible opposition.

      Because they can’t see beyond “check and balance”.

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