The people are fed up with government policies and want their voices to be heard, said former National Solidarity Party (NSP) leader Lim Tean.
It was with this in mind, that Lim applied to form and lead a new political party called Peoples Voice.
In an exclusive interview with Yahoo News Singapore at Far East Plaza on Tuesday (8 May), Lim, a 53-year-old lawyer, even made the bold prediction that within a few election cycles, the opposition will be in a position to shake up the political scene and form the government.
When asked to elaborate on the reasons behind Singaporeans’ discontent with the government, Lim cited the planned hike in the Goods and Services Tax, water price increases and the elected presidency amongst other issues.
Lim, who runs the law firm Carson Law Chambers, also dubbed President Halimah Yacob’s opening address of the 13th Parliament on Monday as “unimaginative”.
Calling the address “a collection of motherhood statements”, Lim said, “It doesn’t inspire confidence in Singaporeans that for the next 24 months or so until the next General Election that this government can do any better.”
Singaporeans are generally unhappy that the country has become “stagnant” while its neighbours are making big strides, according to Lim.
“They just feel that there is no accountability by this Government, there is no vision on how this country is going to move forward,” Lim said.
That is where Peoples Voice comes in. Lim wants to “energise” people into action, even among those who are politically indifferent.
Dozens ‘ready to join’ party
Lim is no novice in the political arena. He joined the NSP as a member in 2011 and rose up the ranks.
Just before the 2015 general election (GE 2015), he took over as NSP’s secretary-general but resigned from the NSP in May last year due to disagreements with the party.
Even as his application for Peoples Voice is pending approval from the Registry of Societies (ROS) after he filed it on 24 April, Lim is making plans to quickly grow the party’s membership base.
Already, 10 “founding members” – including himself – have formed the core of the party and they come from “all walks of life”, from businessmen to students. Their ages range from those in their late 20s to those in their early 60s.
Lim, however, declined to reveal the identities of those who will lead Peoples Voice alongside him.
Once Peoples Voice is formally approved, some 60 to 70 additional members are ready to join the party right away, said Lim confidently, adding that the party would be a “significant” one.
Lim plans to finalise the composition of the central executive committee and hold a party convention by September or October, when he will “spell out the principles and values” of the party.
Peoples Voice will be based on four tenets: equality, protection of the vulnerable, no rights without responsibility, and no authority without democracy, said Lim.
A government granted extensive powers to make legislation should be looking after the rights of citizens but the current PAP team is failing in that respect, he said. Lim believes that leaders in general should be elected by its citizens.
Instead of having a secretary-general, the party will have a leader – Lim Tean – at its helm, while a general secretary will take charge of the party’s operations.
‘We want to form the government’
Up until he filed the application for Peoples Voice, Lim said many of his supporters had advised him on his next moves, with most encouraging him to form his own party.
When asked about the biggest issues that are preventing the opposition from robustly challenging the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP), Lim cited two: the opposition’s lack of organisation and its members lacking the conviction that they can actually win a general election.
In between the past few elections, opposition parties hadn’t propagated their messages well and were always leaving things too late until just before the elections, he said.
“They were always complaining about the uneven playing field. I know that it is…but I want to move beyond that and I believe that we can (progress) with the right preparation and methods.”
Lim was optimistic about the opposition’s chances of overcoming these issues, citing the 30 per cent vote share for the opposition in GE2015 as a “good base” to start with.
“I firmly believe that within the next couple of election cycles, the opposition will be in the position to form the government,” he said.
When asked to rate the opposition’s performance in the past few years, Lim gave it a “C” grade but he confined his assessment to the separate reviews of government policies by him and Singapore Democratic Party leader Chee Soon Juan.
At this juncture, Lim said it was impractical to expect the opposition to make much headway in taking concrete steps to whittle the PAP’s dominance, citing its limited resources.
When asked if the large number of opposition parties is limiting their capacity to gain more ground, Lim disagreed, reasoning that it is each party’s “substance” that matters as they go through “natural evolution”.
“Parties fall, fold up and you get a concentration (of parties) who will take centrestage,” said Lim, adding that he hoped Peoples Voice would be among the parties that prevail.
While there are many who cannot envision the opposition ever being in power, Lim insisted that it is an ultimate goal that all opposition parties must aspire to.
“You shouldn’t be in politics if you don’t want to form the government one day,” he said.
“Only if you have that aim in mind will you be a good political party. Otherwise you’re just wasting space and you’re wasting time.”