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The rise of the Workers Party spells possible demise for the other smaller parties

Posted by temasektimes on May 31, 2012

Despite the odds stacked against them – from the Yaw Shin Leong sex scandal, reports of party disunity and relentless attacks on the integrity of its candidate Png Eng Huat, the Workers Party romped home to a convincing victory in Hougang with 62.09% of the votes.

Though Hougang is considered a impregnable ‘fortress’ of the Workers Party which has held the ward for over twenty years, many had expected a vote swing to the PAP in view of the circumstances under which the by-election was called following the sacking of ex-MP Yaw Shin Leong over alleged personal indiscretions.

The Workers Party seems unprepared during the election campaign either with numerous mis-steps which could prove fatal to other parties. Even WP Chairman Sylvia Lim admitted that the party did not expect to win more than 60 percent of the votes.

The margin of victory for WP boils down to two key factors – its brand name and the prevailing sentiments on the ground that Singapore needs more opposition voices in parliament to check on the government which are likely to propel the WP to further electoral gains in the next election regardless of the candidates they field.

The Workers Party is likely to continue growing for the following reasons:

1. For the last twenty years, the opposition was kept weak and divided with only two MPs in parliament – former Potong Pasir MP Chiam See Tong and Hougang MP Low Thia Kiang. With Mr Chiam entering the twilight of his political career and his party not running any constituency, Mr Low naturally becomes the de facto opposition leader and the nexus of support for all opposition supporters.

2. With six MPs and two NCMPs in Parliament, the Workers Party is now the largest opposition party in Singapore with the increased media exposure likely to attract more supporters and potential candidates into its ranks.

3. The Workers Party’s slogan of ‘Towards a First World Parliament’ resonates deeply with Singaporeans despite an underwhelming performance in parliament and so long its MPs continue to portray themselves as a ‘constructive’ force to check on the ruling party, it will continue to draw support from Singaporeans even if they are ineffective.

4. Unlike other parties, the Workers Party have years of experience in running Hougang and doing well in Aljunied will inspire confidence and trust in Singaporeans.

5. The Workers Party have a mix of experienced politicians like Low Thia Kiang and Sylvia Lim as well as young leaders such as Gerald Giam and Pritam Singh to take the party forward into the future. No other opposition parties boast of so many talented and credible individuals within its ranks like WP.

Given the limited resources and support available from the public, Singaporeans are likely to throw their support behind the Workers Party which has a base to build on, rather than other smaller parties which have little chance of winning against the PAP.

The statistics in the last General Election speaks for themselves: The Workers Party scores 47% against the PAP’s 53% in straight contests overall. Even its worst-faring GRC team managed to garner 42% of the votes which was higher than most other parties.

In a three-corner fight in Sengkang West SMC during the 2011 General Election, the Workers Party candidate Lee Lilian managed to obtain 43% of the votes causing another opposition candidate Desmond Lim to lose his deposit.

The result of the contest is clear: The Workers Party is the ‘number one’ choice for opposition supporters who will unite behind it rather than split the votes with a weaker opposition party.

As the Workers Party continues to grow and attract better candidates into its ranks, it will be able to field more candidates in future elections making the prospects of multi-cornered fights inevitable and with its strong branding, the candidates from the smaller parties will risk losing their election deposits like Desmond Lim.

With the Singapore People’s Party in disarray, the National Solidarity Party having the same centrist position as the Workers Party and the Singapore Democratic Party still in a process of rebuilding and rebranding itself, it is hard to see how they will be able to compete with the Workers Party for the same pool of voters.

The Workers Party is likely to make further inroads in 2016 by winning Joo Chiat and East Coast GRC which it narrowly lost in 2011 while the other parties are unlikely to win any seats, thereby paving the way for a two-party system to emerge in Singapore.

Unless the Workers Party self-implode and suffer a split like the PAP in the 1962, it is hard to see how the PAP is going to stop it from winning more seats in the next General Election.

As for the other parties, they should seriously consider merging with the Workers Party like what the Barisan Sosialist did in 1988 to stand a better chance of winning a seat in elections or risk remaining on the fringes of Singapore politics forever.


31 Responses to “The rise of the Workers Party spells possible demise for the other smaller parties”

  1. spotlessleopard said

    Not all will settle for a 2 political party system…..I believe ultimately there will be at least 3 parties….Always one party will be around to be the “King Maker” in the event of close calls in the Parliamentary Forming sitaution….this situation will guarantte that no party become the Orgre of the Political Scene in the future.

  2. pay said

    Merger… You get expand quicker but absorb alot of ‘moles’ as well. Dangerous

    • DIY said

      It’s too late now. Have you read that Barisan Sosialist party had merged with WP in 1988. That reminds me of ‘aliens’ in your body. See what happened to CST when he absorbed Dr CSJ into SDP party. Sorry state of affair.

  3. bb said

    Hope LTK will the next PM of SG. People who have passion to serve ppl not like those who are supposed to be intellectually better but ignore the plights of sg.

    • No Name said

      Wishful thinking. Singapore will fall within 1 year if that f**king LTK become PM!!! Their main aim is to go into parliament to destroy Sg reputation. Prevent WP from ruling Singapore!! PAP , do your best to protect the east side of Singapore!

      • BS said

        Lol. Ya. Protect the east. Cos you are gonna lose the west, north, south and centre of singapore.

  4. Jack said

    Pls don’t stir shit among the alternative parties. I wonder what is your real intention?

  5. Ron said

    Several countries have a two-party system. If WP can be the alternative party, so be it.

    • DIY said

      Those several countries having two-party system are quarrelsome in nature. Their behaviour are like cats and dogs.

      Their half past six political parties always made up into a coalition government. The appointed MP from the alternative parties always vying for the prestigious posts. They don’t bargain for anything lower than their demand. They hold ransom to votes meant for amendment Bills to be enacted into law. Some will delay the Bills.

      So the moral of the story is a coalition government is likened to ‘a camel designed by a committee’.

  6. Rustle said

    Now, there is no more need for the other opposition parties to give in to the WP’s wishes. They have sacrificed enough for the WP.

  7. Correction said

    It’s Punggol East, not Sengkang West in GE2011.

  8. biccherry said

    The super-sized GRC system of elections that has exceeded what is necessary for minority representation is now also Mr LTK’s trump card, as it is the PAP’s monopolistic maneuver. Ask yourself why individuals (independents) with conviction almost cannot become MPs? Because of the gerrymandering that causes district boundaries to become unpredictable? Because about 87% of seats (under GRC scheme) are reserved for larger and behemoth political parties such as PAP and WP since independents cannot qualify (don’t tell me the nonsense that independents can also group to form a GRC in the 10 days before nomination).

    Singaporeans have allowed politics to be run by political MNCs to the detriment of a forgotten minority.

    Pray tell, what detriment is there in applying the NCMP scheme to ensure minority representation such that rather than zero voting rights, such minority NCMPs could vote on issues/ bills that have a significant (>50%) minority effect- and that would total eradication the need for a single GRC until PAP thinks up another monopolistic political excuse to to support their flavor of dynastic partisan politics in Singapore.

    • biccherry said

      Grammar corrected version:

      The super-sized GRC system of elections that has exceeded what is necessary for minority representation is now also Mr LTK’s trump card, as it is the PAP’s monopolistic maneuver. Ask yourself why individuals (independents) with the conviction to serve are equally discouraged from attempting to contest to become MPs? Because of the gerrymandering that causes district boundaries to become unpredictable? Because about 87% of seats (under GRC scheme) are reserved for larger and behemoth political parties such as PAP and WP since independents cannot qualify (don’t tell me the nonsense that independents can also group to form a GRC in the 10 days before nomination).

      Singaporeans have allowed politics to be run by political MNCs to the detriment of a forgotten minority.

      Pray tell, what detriment is there in applying the NCMP scheme to ensure minority representation such that rather than zero voting rights, such minority NCMPs could vote on issues/ bills that have a significant (>50%) minority effect- and that would total eradicate the need for the GRC system until PAP thinks up another political excuse to revive it in favor of dynastic partisan politics in Singapore.


  9. 龙的传人 said


    • BS said

      Then are you working? Work two hours a day la. Enough to eat white rice since other dishes are just being greedy, sleep on the street cos having your own flat is also wanting too much. Walk to work cos you should be thankful you’ve got a two hrs jobs. From your name can tell how greedy you are, decendant of dragon my @$$!! Dun come and act all saint and noble. Having more oppositions means higher chance of better policies for the ppl and more channel or party to go to. So just shut up man, 满瓶酒不响,半瓶酒晃荡。无知愚昧,肤浅!

      • 龙的传人 said


    • BS said


  10. CKMPD said

    Let the smaller parties eg SDA and SPP disappear. I think SDP is pretty credible and I see a role for SDP in SG politics. SG needs WP and SDP to keep the PAP on a leash!

  11. mahbok tan said

    Lets settle for Anything but PAP……2party system better…got check and balance. If not add few more parties….!!!

  12. Veera said

    Ultimately I think, It’s not about who runs the country but how the country is run and when citizens are dissatisfied with how the country is run by one party… The power to change it is the pinnacle of democracy.

  13. Veera said

    Ultimately I think, It’s not about who runs the country but how the country is run and when citizens are dissatisfied with how the country is run by one party… The power to change it, to keep things in check and to put across firmly that it is indeed the common man on the ground who makes or breaks a government is the ultimate pinnacle of democracy and that’s what we should all be striving towards to. Cheers 🙂

  14. Black said

    LTK strategy is Incite, divide and conquer.

    • Beenthereseenit said

      Sounds like you are talking about PAP’s strategy: divide the citizenry into the haves and have nots, incite the policies, media and courts to go after people who sing. Different tune from PAP and conquer Singapore through GRCs, vote buying and Gerry meandering.

    • Brilliant move said

      Monkey see, monkey learn and do?
      The best thing to do is to learn tactic and strategy from your opponent and use it back seamlessly on your opponent.

    • DIY said

      Maybe the situation will happen within the next 30 years. Before the erosion to change government takes effect. The transition will have to undergo strategic steps. The dominant party will face a coalition government perhaps lasting another 20 years or longer.

      Witness the political wrangling in parliament around our Asean countries where parties will be vying for prestigious posts .When a coalition government takes place, every political parties will present their standards to prove better standards than the proven ones. The worst scenario will hit WP badly. Voters have baggage of memories. They are prisoner of history. If any party with strong political will ever survived then the X-factor Party can rule Singapore.

      Don’t ever bet on WP. They do not produce standards. High standards are necessary otherwise another Yaw scandal will surface again. Witnessed the NGO movement. One man for one vote. Bersih 3.0 challenged the EC to procure a standard electoral rolls and not one voter with 3 names. Good Luck SG.

    • DIY said

      That reminds me of the Chinese classic ‘Romance of the three Kingdoms’. When the General of kingdom ‘A’ have ambitions to conquer kingdoms ‘B and C’, it was a big task. The easy way was to instigate kingdoms ‘B and C’ to war and when they were both weakened then conquer all.

      Sec Gen LTK is not combative enough. By comparison the former Sec Gen JBJ was combative and outspoken but lost to established standards in the House (parliament) rules. Playing smart, huh! There are 3 legal minds in Aljunied GRC and they are mindful that LTK could wrongfully quote false analogy. Then its bad luck.

  15. P Koh said

    Which party runs the country is alright as long as their vision is for the common good of the people and the country as a whole. We need good people to run the country, not the party. People who are committed and prepared to sacrifice so that the country remains clean and green, little crime, peaceful and everyone gets to earn a decent living while the disparity in wealth distribution be narrowed as much as possible. This country can never be Etopia but at least the people entrusted to run it must have these basics right and are of the highest integrity and honesty. Can we claim that this is so at the present moment.?

    • DIY said

      When we look around our neighbours, by way of compare and contrast SG is better.

      At present WP is the talk of the town and enthusiastic voters have great hopes to replace the ruling party. Voters have minimal knowledge that the LTK factor can create adverse effect. This is called patronage.

      The ‘Dear Leader’ can be demoralizing to entertain the hopes and aspiration of Singaporean. How WP can prove itself that the party is best amongst the best. The only call is to believe Shangri-La in Bhutan.

  16. Anthony Tang said

    A strong opposition will prevent the Papayas to pass any legistration beneficial for the selected few.

  17. media2002 said

    Brilliant article from a young Singaporean girl on Facebook. I hope the PAP leaders read this and take seriously what the writer has written because it reflects the sentiments of a lot of people who are getting disenchanted with arrogance of the PAP.

    *To the Men-in-White* by Neo Yu Wei on Sunday, 24 April 2011 at 22:14

    You guys were once my heroes. When I was young, I was so proud that I had a government that was indeed one of the world’s best, if not, THE BEST.
    Although LKY was (and still is) portrayed as a fearsome, if ruthless leader, he was much respected. When he appeared as our PM on the world stage, my heart never failed to swell with pride because it was obvious that he was also someone other world leaders respected.
    But not now. The problem is, you are victims of your own success. And the world has changed, yet you remain stuck in the 1960s. This is why your once-fantastic branding is being eroded, why I find it hard to support you like before.

    1) You were too successful

    First, there was LKY and he was a great leader. He was like a god and still being treated like one. He “miraculously” transformed a small, poor,
    resource-less little island into a country that now has one of the highest
    GDPs in the world, where other countries are now trying to learn from. No one can take that achievement away from the first PAP team and indeed, I would guess that this is also the main reason why many in the older generation are still your loyal fans.

    I may not agree to all the strategies you’ve used then (and some were downright questionable) but I can’t deny that you had some very good reasons to do so. But unfortunately, when you’ve set the standard of governance so high, every other subsequent PAP team that comes along can only look worse and worse. And it doesn’t help that you constantly try too hard to be perfect. The higher the bar is set, the more difficult it is for the PAP teams that come after to match it.

    In a way, I think LKY only does his own team a great disservice by publishing so many personal memoirs, recounting again and again how good he was. Because the more god-like he is, the more voters like me will wonder, how can we ever have another “god” like him to lead us? And the answers you propose will always be a disappointment. Because, against a god, everyone will look like a mere mortal. Didn’t anyone tell you that you can’t replicate a god using your same old cookie-cutter?!! Great leaders are first of all rebels, don’t you know (and LKY was one too!)?

    2) You were too smart for your own good

    No one can or has been able to rival you in terms of your (mostly) rational and well-thought through, sound policies. Especially in terms of our economic policies. You’re so darn good with your cost-benefit analyses, your economic forecasts, your financial planning. Every policy you rolled out is justified using very rational arguments that the opposition and the public find hard to counter argue. You are top-notch, because you have a very brainy team, all with impeccable qualifications from world renowned universities. Unfortunately, this made you assume that only you have the brains and everyone else is just **censored**censored**censored**censored* who needs only to listen and obey. The game of politics cannot be played by cold logic alone. And it certainly can’t be won by treating your voters as morons.
    An example of this would be the issue of bringing in the IRs. Yes, your
    cold, rational argument makes very good economic reasons for having
    casinos in Singapore . No one can argue against that. But not everything can or should be measured by dollars and cents or by the amount of GDP it will generate for Sg. We’re no longer the generation in the 1960s that
    constantly had to worry about money or material matters. We’ve moved up the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

    In fact, most Singaporeans work ridiculously long hours, are constantly too stressed to even go on dates or have sex (hence the low marriage and fertility rate) that we’re all very very disillusioned with the constant drive for wealth. Increasingly, we want to slow down, have time to smell the flowers and be with our families. And having casinos that will bring in more crime (organised ones too), encourage more addictive behaviour and increase broken families will not sit well with a population who now values quality of life rather than personal wealth. Yet, you bull-dosed these concerns and won yet again with your cold, rational, economic arguments because there wasn’t enough opposition in the parliament to stop you.

    While people may buy into the cold logic of your policies now, your lack of empathy and human touch are slowly alienating voters. The breaking point may not be now, but you can be sure that the disconnection is getting wider by the day. It’s a time-bomb that will go off at some point.

    3) You forgot evolutionary laws, history and your own past.

    While you’re very brainy, you’re mostly all technocrats and specialists. You ’ve scorned the social sciences and the humanities, you think these are only for sissy people whose A Levels don’t qualify them for specialist
    degrees. Yet, if you had been more well-informed in these areas, you might have learnt some valuable lessons about power. History, for example, is the best teacher that could have taught you that power never ever ever ever lasts forever. Indeed, the more you try to hang on to it, the more it will invite adversity.

    History would also have taught you that every regime was once in opposition. As Marx could have told you, the history of mankind is
    all about class (or power) struggles. You may be in power now, but one day you’ll be overthrown. However, you have hope of leaving your great legacy behind if you take a leaf from the pages of human evolution, which would have taught you that it’s human diversity that has helped the human race to overcome the odds, to survive this long. But instead of embracing diversity, you tried your hardest to kill off any form of alternative views, whether these come from within your party or externally. You only wanted to hear your own voice or voices that are exactly the same as yours.

    This inbreeding will eventually be your demise. Most of all, you forgot
    your own roots, where you were once an opposition party too. You focused so much on hanging on to your power, you forgot your original vision, you forgot your voters and you forgot why you are governing Singapore .

    4) Power breeds fear and paranoia

    In the beginning, you used power in order to stabilise the political
    situation so that you can give the masses homes, food, clean water and
    their livelihoods. That seemed a justifiable use of power even though it
    involved some ruthless and ugly tactics. But over the years, you started
    to crave power for itself.

    Again, you forgot the story of Macbeth (see, I told you the humanities are important!!) – where an originally good leader was
    so obsessed with his new power that he saw everything as a threat towards it. He became so paranoid that he even killed his best friend whom he thought was after his throne. He only heard what he wanted to hear from dubious soothsayers (which turned out to be half-truths). Needless to say, Macbeth eventually had a tragic end.

    Like Macbeth, you’ve become so obsessed with winning overwhelmingly in every GE that you use every weapon you have, every trick up your sleeves to clobber the opposition to smithereens. Smear campaigns, legal suits, changing electoral boundaries, raising the cost of candidature, forming GRCs, threatening the electorate with upgrading…it’s like watching the Brazilian football team beat the Singapore team by 82-2, except in football the rules are fairer and the referee neutral. Why do you need to resort to such gangster-like ways? You could have won overwhelmingly anyway with all the talent you have! I’m not
    sure how long this bullying strategy can go on but sooner or later you’ll
    become the thug that the electorate can’t wait to get rid of.

    5) Power corrupts absolutely

    Power is not power without money. And in this aspect you’ve outdone
    yourselves by pegging your salaries to the private sector. You’re the
    highest paid politicians in the world and your income is >40 times that of
    the median income of the general population (only less than Kenya ). Of
    course, you justify it with yet another one of your cold, rational
    arguments of attracting and retaining the best talents in the government.
    But seriously, how can you compare public sector salaries to the private
    sector? In fact, many of your candidates have never worked in the private
    sector before and one wonders if they’ll survive even for a day in a
    private company. Yet, they are paid private sector salaries, paid not from
    profits but from taxpayers’ money. And though I fully agree that
    politicians must be paid their worth, don’t you think getting 40x the
    median income is crossing into the lines of corruption? Ok, even if all
    our Ministers and PM are worth every cent of their $4m annual salary, it also means that they have to perform much much much better than any other government in the world.

    Again, you have set the standards and expectations so high, you only have yourselves to blame when you cannot meet those expectations from the ground. And the more you fail to meet their expectations, the more the electorate will think you’re not worth your astronomical salaries. It’s a vicious cycle that you’ve started and it’s going to be very hard to stop now.

    You talk about the so-called “crutch-mentality” of the poor, yet this same mentality can be applied on yourselves. When you’ve used money as the main means to attract people into your party, you’ve basically recruited people who value money above serving the country in the people’s interest. These politicians who are in it for the money will not have the incentive to think independently or to represent the people’s interests because they’ve got millions to lose if they don’t toe party lines. Because they’re paid millions, what incentives do they have to empathize with someone struggling with 2 jobs to make ends meet?

    Very soon, the voters will feel that you’re just a bunch of corrupt officials, no different from those in many 3rd-world countries. The way I see it, you only have yourselves to blame for this situation you’re in.

    The only way you can somehow reverse these trends is to learn from
    Madonna (see, you never thought popular culture could teach you anything right?). She keeps herself relevant not by sticking to the same old formula again and again. That would have killed her career long ago as it did to countless of other pop stars. Rather, she keeps re-inventing herself and her image to keep them relevant to the current times. And she pushes the boundaries. She’s always ahead of her time and like a true leader, she sets the trends not follow them. She’s a rebel. Yet, all you have done is to remain exactly the same as you were in 1960s.

    The electorate is increasingly tired of your same old scare tactics using HDB upgrading as a stick, tired of you saying that Singapore will go to ruins if the opposition wins, tired of you always using smear campaigns against opposition candidates, tired of your arrogance and lack of empathy, tired of you giving out inconsequential hongbaos before elections only to
    increase your own salaries by millions after.

    You keep encouraging us to think out-of-the-box, yet you’re perpetually stuck in the same adversarial mindset towards the opposition. If you can only start to think of your relationship with the opposition as a mutual symbiosis – you share a portion of power with them in return for your longevity and credibility. Power is always temporary, but your legacy needn’t be. Just look at the current Conservative Party of UK which traces its roots back to the Tory Party in 1678. Do you think they could have survived this long without any meaningful opposition, no defeats, no radical internal reforms? Are you so politically shortsighted that you can only see your future in the next 10, 20 or 50 years? C’mon, think further!! And didn’t anyone tell you that in other to be the best, you need to have competition? Otherwise, how can the electorate be sure that you’re indeed the best, if they can’t compare you to any other party?

    I’m no military strategist, but I do think that sometimes, you need to lose some battles first in order to win bigger battles later. It will not be a bad thing for you to lose a few GRCs in GE. In fact, if I were you, I will be celebrating. Because nothing gets people going like failure. Rather lose some small battles now than to wait for the big bomb to explode later. By then, not only will you disappear into the dust heap of history, so too will Singapore . That will be your ultimate betrayal to this country that you so painstakingly and successfully created out of a little red dot on the map.

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