Singapore election fever



By Ivan Lim
Contributor to AsiaN

Singapore: Election fever is in the air in Singapore. The worsening economy – GDP growth forecast down to 0.1 to .1 percent from 2 to.2.5 percent arising from global slowdown — has spurred talk of a snap election. Pundits say the government may capitalise on the ensuing crisis atmosphere to rally voters behind it.

Not that the long-ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) anchored on its formidable track record is in danger of losing power. Indeed, any change in government, pundits say, will come about only if the PAP split into factions and fight one another.

Such a scenario is not on the cards. But a respected former PAP stalwart, Dr Tan Cheng Bock,79, has now set out to assemble an ‘outsider’ PAP team to take on the incumbent PAP.

“The Progress Singapore Party (PSP) will be an alternative to the PAP as the current system is unbalanced,” he said at the launch of the new party on August 3.

With a rallying cry of For Country, for People, Dr Tan underscored the democratic socialist legacy of the PAP founded by Singapore’s first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

The former medical doctor, who had been a distinguished PAP parliamentarian for 26 years, recalled he was picked by the late Singapore leader despite telling him he was no yes-man because the party needed talented people.

However, Dr Tan quickly disassociated himself from the PAP after the baton was passed on to second-generation successor, Mr Goh Chok Tong and then third-generation successor, Mr Lee Hsien Loong, son. of the senior Lee.

The newly-minted opposition leader charged the PAP with changing drastically the political rules on two issues. One is amending the constitution to introduce a race factor for the presidential elections. Another was to bring the Lee’s family property dispute concerning its heritage value for debate in Parliament.

More pointedly, Dr Tan castigated the government on three counts of lacking transparency, accountability and independence. He sought to set things right by resigning from the PAP in 2010 to contest the presidential election in 2011 but lost by a razor-thin 0.34 per cent to the party-backed candidate.

Responding to supporters’ call “not to go gently into the night”, a reinvigorated Dr Tan brushed aside PAP traitor. accusation to form the PSP and show the PAP powerholders that they could not take for granted their prerogative to rule.

Clamouring for change, the ukulele-playing politician is counting on true-blue PAP cadres to run on the PSP ticket in the elections, expected to be called soon, and swing faithful PAP supporters to his side.

His star catch will be the Prime Minister’s estranged younger brother Lee Hsien Yang. The latter has declared his wholehearted support for the values and principles of the new PSP.

“Today’s PAP is no longer the PAP of my father. It has lost its way,” said the second son of Lee Kuan Yew.


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