SINGAPORE — With the People’s Action Party (PAP) so entrenched in Singapore politics, there is “no doubt” that they will continue to form the next government, said a Progress Singapore Party (PSP) leader on Monday (29 June).
Hence, voters should not fear a change of government and instead deny the ruling party a supermajority in the House by voting in 32 opposition Members of Parliament, said PSP assistant secretary-general Leong Mun Wai.
Speaking to reporters at the unveiling of the party’s manifesto via teleconference, Leong likened the polls to “a beauty contest” and urged Singaporeans to vote for the best slates of opposition candidates fielded across the various constituencies.
Leong was responding to a query by a reporter about the chances of the opposition denying the PAP a supermajority.
“Right now the PAP government not only has more than a two-thirds majority, but in fact they have an overwhelming majority of 93 per cent of the seats in Parliament...even if you want a very strong government, you don’t need to give them 93 per cent. You give them 67 per cent (and) they already have the rights to amend the Constitution (at) any time.”
The party leader also said that despite the lack of a formal pact or agreement, all opposition parties have the same objective: “we want to have a stronger voice in Parliament”.
Leong said that if Singaporeans vote for the incumbent Workers’ Party in the five-seat Aljunied Group Representation Constituency (GRC) and Hougang Single Member Constituency (SMC), “we will need 26 seats more to get to 32”.
“And so every election is about a beauty contest. We hope the electorate will focus on three-two-three. That's something that I cooked up myself.” Leong was making reference to his call for Singaporeans to vote for the opposition in the following constituencies “with the best line-up of the alternative party”: three five-seat GRCs, two four-seat GRCs and three SMCs.
He said, “So that is one way we want to present to the electorate. Of course, everybody knows that is a very tall order in our electoral system. But we hope the media will also help us to communicate this to the electorate: after 10 July, there's no doubt, the PAP will still form the government – because we have a very entrenched structure, they are very entrenched into the political structure in Singapore already. And we have this first-past-the-post system in Singapore.”
Leong added that “it is also important to explain to the electorate that they don't really have to fear that the government will be voted out after Polling Day.”
Also on the panel at the manifesto launch were PSP secretary-general Tan Cheng Bock, vice-chairman Hazel Poa, organising secretary Michael Chua, and party members Kumaran Pillai, Francis Yuen and Muhammad Taufik Supan.
Responding to the same question, Dr Tan said of the importance of denying the PAP a supermajority, “Because constitutional changes can take place, and you have witnessed in the past: the events of the last presidential election, where you know the terms and conditions were all changed, and at the end the day, there was no voting for this current president. Okay, but that is history; that illustrates the importance of having at least more than a third of the alternative parties in the House.”
Dr Tan added that with alternative parties in the House, there can be better policy formulation as there will be “cross-fertilisation of ideas from all various fields”.
Without a diversity of ruling and opposition Members of Parliament, Singaporeans will be worse off as there will be groupthink and they will have to accept whatever is discussed in the House without much debate.
He added, “That is my view, because I was in the House before. And I noticed that if you don't really speak up, you'd be surprised to realise that so many Bills can be passed within one day, because there's nobody to oppose what the government has proposed.”
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