Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Very Noble Selfless Act

Very rarely one comes across a very noble selfless Act as displayed by Dr. Chee Soon Juan when he decided at the eleventh hour to withdraw the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) from the Punggol East by-election in the higher interest of opposition unity. The SDP had made elaborate preparations for the by-election including walkabouts, resident visits and the making of election posters which all showed that it was determined to enter the fray. It was a very great sacrifice on the SDP part to withdraw at the last moment which took many people, including PAP leaders, by surprise. Dr. Chee is not known to be a vacillating person in his political pursuit but the overwhelming criticisms, especially by netizens, of his principal role in breaking the unity of opposition parties in the Punggol East by-election could have had a salutary effect on his conscience. He himself admitted that SDP had heard the voices of Singaporeans who did not want more than one opposition party taking on the ruling People's Action Party so as not to split the opposition votes. Ironically, that message did not reach the Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA) and the Reform Party (RP).

The Chinese have a saying on Dr. Chee's noble act: Superlative care of the great scheme (public affairs), sacrifice a small "me" and accomplish a big "me" (顧全大局,犧牲小我,成全大我)。By his magnanimous act, he will endear himself to Singaporeans in GE 2016, especially those who have never been comfortable with his so-called volatile character. Dr. Chee Soon Juan and his DDP will now be regarded with more respect by other opposition parties and even the PAP.

The Punggol East by election will now be a four-cornered contest by PAP, WP, SDA, and RP. On paper a four-cornered fight will be favourable to the PAP candidate Dr. Koh Poh Koon, as opposition strength is apparently split. However, WP's position is strengthened by the withdrawal of SDP  from the contest. There is no reason to rule out the 41 per cent vote the  WP candidate secured in GE 2011. SDA candidate Desmond Lim and RP candidate Kenneth Jeyaretnam are regarded as splitters of opposition unity and it will be a surprise if they can get sufficient votes to avoid forfeiture of deposits. However much they may try, they will not be able to dislodge any of the WP's 41 per cent solid votes to their favour. The ground situation in Punggol East,as is also in other constituencies in Singapore, is that there is general dissatisfaction with the PAP over its undemocratic policies with the result that there may be some quite considerable disaffected PAP votes. Desmond Lim and Kenneth Jeyaretnam certainly hope to be able to attract these disaffected PAP votes but it is more likely that they will go to the WP candidate Lee Li Lian.

Although PAP may feel that it is in a more advantageous position in a four-cornered fight, there is an even chance that WP may pip it at the last moment at the finishing line. The SDA and RP candidates are not even lightweight contestents and they are in the contest as what one would call spoilers. Especially Kenneth Jeyaretnam who started off as a promising politician but his inability to see the bigger picture in the world of Singapore politics may be his undoing.

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