The most refreshing piece of news that comes out of the Nomination excercise today is the show of unity by the opposition parties to avoid three-cornered contests and to have straight fights with the PAP in all 14 GRCs and 11 SMCs. The only set-back is in the Punggol East SMC where there is a three-cornered contest involving the PAP, the Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA) and the Workers' Party (WP). It's an unfortunate situation and WP could have been more gracious in withdrawing as a three-cornered contest is bound to benefit the PAP candidate.
Be that as it may, the show of opposition unity augurs well for the opposition parties in the 2011 General Election. For the first time voters can have a clear choice to vote for a PAP candidate or an opposition candidate. It is not far-fetched to say that opposition parties have built up considerable support in the present campaign and it will not be too presumptuous to say that voters may be persuaded to feel that it is opportune to elect a number of opposition candidates into Parliament to provide a check and balance to the PAP which they think has been in dominnance far too long. The PAP will still be returned to power and voters may feel that the PAP leaders' call to voters to vote for their future and their children's future is meaningless and superfluous.
The most significant contest that has emerged in this Nomination exercise today is the battle of supremacy between a PAP team A helmed by Foreign Minister George Yeo and a high-powered WP team headed by its secretary-general Low Thia Khiang in the Aljunied GRC. Included in the WP team are star candidate Chen Show Mao and WP Chairman Sylvia Lim whilst the PAP team comprises also a woman minister and a Malay senior minister of state.
The Aljunied electoral battle will be closely watched by the PAP leaders as well as the opposition fraternity as either way the result of this contest is going to have a profound effect on both parties, but more on the opposition. If the WP team emerges victorious, not only will it give a big boost to the opposition standing but will lift their morale. The PAP on the other hand will suffer ignominy with the loss of two ministers and a senior minister of state. It will also show that the PAP is not invincible. That is why Low Thia Khiang had kept this team combination close to his chest until Nomination Day. The fact that he has put the creme de la creme from his party to contest the Aljunied GRC shows that he is going for broke. There is an appropriate Chinese saying: To smash the cooking vessels and sink the boats (破釜沉舟）. It means the WP must succeed because the retreat route is smashed. It will be the epoch-making journey of the WP and God willing they will succeed. The wheel of history only moves forward. In the last general election, the WP lost narrowly to the PAP mainly because the Malay votes were not in their favour. The Malay ground culd be different this time and the WP should apare no effort in working hard on it.
The PAP teams which may not have a safe or easy passage could be in Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, Tampines GRC, Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC and Moulmein-Kallang GRC. The SMCs in danger of falling into opposition hands may be Joo Chiat SMC and Mountbatten SMC. The PAP team in Marine Parade GRC may see its percentage of votes decreased because of the presence of the beleaguered woman candidate Tin Pei Ling. She is no match to her counterpart Nicole Seah of the National Solidarity Party (NSP). It will be a laughing stock if she causes the defeat of the PAP team in a freak election.
One thing which is incomprehensible to the common man is why the PAP leaders insist on a clean sweep of the elections without any humane consideration of political space for the opposition when the Party itself is so dominant without any fear of being toppled. One believes that this only happens in a fascist country in other parts of the world. In a real democracy, opposition voices are a feature of its parliamentary system and in fact are encouraged. As a matter of fact, the PAP is in an unassailable position and can afford to be liberal and accommodating in its dealings with the opposition.