Judging from the soul-searching that pervaded the PAP convention at the University Cultural Centre on Sunday 27 November, PM Lee Hsien Loong and his Cabinet colleagues are stilll smarting from the humiliating defeat of the top PAP team in Aljunied GRC in the last General Election in May. They lost two heavyweight ministers, a senior minister of state and a prospective political office holder in the Aljunied fiasco. PM Lee has now vowed at the convention that the party is set on retaking Aljunied in the GE in 2016. All very brave words but would history and, more importantly, the enlightened voters of Aljunied allow PM Lee and the party to indulge in this fantasy of retaking Aljunied? The wheel of history only moves forward and PM Lee and his circle of self-acclaimed ministers may find to their dismay not only that they could not recapture Aljunied but may lose a few more GRCs to Workers' Party and the other opposition parties if they are able to muster credible candidates against the PAP. People on the ground are already talking about it.
More startling to the complaisant PAP leaders is the belief in certain quarters, among them some quite prominent, that in the present struggle for political supremacy, the Workers' Party (WP) is portrayed as having similar prowess that PAP had in the turbulent period before it came into power in 1959. The PAP had the solid support of the pro-communist unions under the powerful leadership of Lim Chin Siong. The PAP now has the unions completely under its control through its jocular minister Lim Swee Say. So politically the WP is deprived of this important source of trade union support. But if WP is on the political ascendancy reminiscent of the PAP 1959 political might, there is every possibility the trade union rank and file may shift their allegiance to the WP, maybe not openly, in defiance of the PAP-dominated NTUC leadership.
From his demeanour in the PAP convention, PM Lee Hsien Loong and his Cabinet comrades show no compunction in wanting to snuff out the opposition completely from Parliament. Of course, PM Lee can explain that the opposition can still be represented in Parliament in the capacity of NCMPs. Is this not a travesty as NCMPs are not elected MPs? They do not represent any constituency and have no voting rights in certain aspects in Parliament. It shows the arrogance of the PAP leaders in wanting to assert their political dominance in Parliament to the exclusion of the opposition, especially the WP. This is perhaps what they want Singaporeans to believe that they are practising democracy, which is contrary to their oft professed intention. Is this not a mockery of democracy?
Anyway, a great number of electors are disillusioned with the PAP leaders. Even with the five years before the next election for the PAP leaders to rectify their shortcomings and win over the disenchanted voters, they may not find the going smooth for the simple reason that history is no longer on their side.