Monday, September 21, 2015

The immortality of the fortunes of the Workers' Party

It will not be a surprise if this impudent title raises the eyebrow of Singaporeans after the near devastation of the Workers' Party following the electoral tsunami in the recent General Election. It is a major setback for the political future of the WP after all the tangible signs showed that they were on the political ascendency before GE. The adverse election results came like a lightning bolt out of the blue sky which left them completely stunned. Even PM Lee Hsien Loong and his colleagues were not sure of their political fortunes and the stunning landslide victory was something like a godsend beyond their expectations. As a credit to him, PM Lee reacted with quite uncharacteristic humility to the incredible PAP victory.

It has preoccupied the minds of political pundits the perplexing phenomenon of the WP electoral fiasco when they were seen to be on the upper hand in their vigorous and even aggressive campaigns with incredibly mammoth crowds at their election rallies. Their walkabouts were very well received and the pitch of their arguments were so intense that even the PAP rivals were overawed. The talk around town was that the WP would capture East Coast GRC, Marine Parade GRC and Fengshan SMC in addition to retaining their incumbent GRC and SMCs. On Election Day itself the betting by bookies was so heavily in favour of WP winning the two additional GRCs and one SMC that it was expected to be a foregone conclusion.

So what could have happened for the results to be so cruelly humiliating to the WP. Some school of thought attributed it to the fear of a silent majority to the so-called overly aggressive election campaigns of the WP which  will cripple a PAP administration if the WP captured more seats than what they were having. So they switched their votes to the PAP. Another school of thought believed that the new citizens who comprise about 14 per cent of the electorate tilted the results in PAP's favour. They have everything to lose if the PAP were defeated. It would however be safe to say that a combination of these two factors contributed to the PAP's stunning victory.

Some who had voted the PAP out of fear of WP's dominance are now regretting their hasty decisions. In an article "one session of democratic lesson" (一堂民主課) in the Sunday Zaobao, there were the following reactions: Facing with this result, not only those voters who did not cast their votes for the PAP were unhappy, even those voters who voted for the PAP were also unhappy. One friend pointedly exhibited his dissatisfaction: "I want PAP to win but do not want them to win so numerously." There were others more agitated who angrily said:"This is the regression of democracy". It will be interesting to find out how widespread this dissatisfaction is.

The setback encountered by the WP can be considered only temporary, at most till the next GE. They must not lose faith and they are doing the right thing by picking up the pieces and starting afresh.They have some very good leaders who will no doubt be able to regain the confidence of the voters, especially those who had cast their votes for the PAP out of fear, in time for the next GE. There is no such thing as a perpetual loser and WP MPs' performances in Parliament and in their constituencies will be keenly watched by the electorate. Secretary-General Low Thia Khiang and Chairman Sylvia Lim have gone through their baptism of fire and are capable of leading the WP back into prominence. The immortality of the fortunes of the Workers' Party is never in doubt.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Cliffhanger GE 2015

A rejuvenated PM Lee Hsien Loong has finally come to terms with his inner self and has called a general election for 11 September 2015 which has been eagerly expected.  Today is Nomination Day and as expected the PAP is contesting all 89 seats. The Workers' party has nominated candidates for 28 seats and forms the biggest majority among the opposition parties.

This election is mainly a cliffhanger between the PAP and the Workers' Party, which won a GRC and two SMCs in the last election in 2011. The PAP has not really recovered from the humiliation of its defeat at the hands of the WP in Aljunied GRC in GE 2011. It is still smarting from the defeat and has reluctantly put up a token team to contest the Aljunied GRC in GE 2015. A brash DPM Thaman Shamugaratnam, who introduced the team, had the temerity to say that they have a fighting chance of recapturing the GRC, but then it is glaringly conspicuous that they are terrified in putting a minister, who is more eminent than the humbled George Yeo, as an anchor minister to lead the team. Instead an expendable Yeo Guat Kwang is put up as a sacrificial lamb to anchor the team.

Now we come to the antics of the great inimitable ESM Goh Chok Tong who is a member to the PAP team contesting the Marine Parade GRC. ESM Goh is obviously over the hill and shows senility by his delirious utterance describing the WP as "nomads out to plunder". WP's foray into Marine Parade GRC has obviously caused him numerous nightmares for him to be irrational in his speech.  In view of the result of the last election in 2011 in Marine Parade GRC in which the PAP scrapped through with a razor-thin margin against the National Solidarity Party, it really scares the shit out of ESM Goh that the PAP is in danger of succumbing to a formidable WP team. Very wisely he volunteered the anchoring of the PAP team to an unsuspecting Tan Chuan Jin as he would not want to be shown to be the anchorman in the remote possibility of a PAP defeat. So glamour boy Tan Chuan Jin may carry the honour of becoming the fall guy.

Another GRC that may go the way of Marine Parade GRC may be the East Coast GRC helmed by the eccentric Lim Swee Say. He may forever be indulging in all kinds of antics which may or may not go down well with the electors of East Coast GRC. He and his now famous preposterous phrase "better, betterer and betterest" seems to tickle PM Lee Hsien Loong no end but the public is doubtful to find it amusing. PM Lee obviously finds him an indispensible jocular character who, if nothing else, is able to help him hold his Cabinet together with his preposterous antics. Again the PAP won the East Coast GRC in GE 2011 by the skin of its teeth.

Yet another GRC which the PAP may be in danger of succumbing to the formidable WP is the Jalan Besar GRC. With the demographic ethnicity of the GRC, Yaacob Ibrahim may find himself like a fish out of water. He is supposed to anchor the PAP team but in a pamphlet handed out to residents Denise Phua is placed ahead of him. He may be popular with the Malay/Muslim community but is likely to cut no ice with the non-Malays in the GRC because he hardly mingles with the Chinese residents. Maybe this is why Denise Phua appears to tbe anchoring the PAP team.

Vivian Balakhrishnan may be more fortunate in that his PAP team is not facing any formidable WP team in the Holland-Bukit Timah GRC. But he may turn out to be the Achilles' heel that the formidable Dr. Paul Tambyah of the Singapore Democratic Party team is looking out for in the PAP team.

Ms. Tin Pei Ling of the PAP can consider herself extremely fortunate and should thank the National Solidarity Party for joining the fray at the MacPherson SMC. The WP chances of success in a three-cornered contest are greatly reduced.

The PAP is more concerned with the formidable challenge of the Workers' Party who may end up with an additional two to three GRCs in addition to Aljunied GRC with any luck. The PAP is bound to capitalise on the so-called lapses of the WP Town Council in its election campaign but the danger of overplaying the issue is ever present. The election campaigns of the PAP and the opposition parties, especially the WP's, will be interesting to watch as it will give an indication of the voting trends.