A two party system for Singapore?


Sooner or later, some time into the future (and maybe not too far either) – either a coalition government will be formed together with the PAP or a new power will run the government.

And like most other countries in the world, the government will change hands so often that the common man will gradually become skeptical of the whole election process.

A party takes over and tries to undo all the work done by its predecessor, more often than not saying that it is trying to “solve the problems” done by the previous government. Then four years later, it will swing back again and the new party tries to undo the work further.

They lob attacks at each other, they lob insults. If you think the elections produced time wasting jibes and jostles, well…with two parties, politicking is going to be a permanent feature.

Sooner or later people would have grown so weary of the legislative and executive branches of government and start to lose their trust in policy making.

This has happened in the UK, where people are so skeptical of governments and politicians that sometimes they have to depend on the Judiciary to settle disputes and to make new laws – even controversial ones where it is normally the job of Parliament. When nothing gets done in Parliament, then someone else needs to take over.

A worse example is that of America, when the country grinds to a halt when a Money Bill cannot be agreed upon.

Don’t get me wrong though, I’m not dead set against the idea of a two-party system. Yet, when you observe all those magnificent cities that got reduced to being normal (Taiwan and Japan to be specific) you can’t blame me for the cynicism.

It makes sense that competition would drive people to perform better, and I like the fierce competition coming from opposition parties.

At the same time though, Singapore is an exceptional country in so many ways. It functions very well and we have an administration that is the envy of many countries. And it is cheap to live in – i’m serious. For a country that imports so much of its food and has so little land, we’re able to be a food paradise and create properties that grow value for even the the lowest rung of citizens.

If we bring in a party that has goals of turning homes into mere places to live in and doesn’t build wealth, well i’m selling my HDB straightaway.

If I were to cast my vote for an opposition party, it had better be an exceptional party. One that can robustly defend itself from PAP scrutiny. One that is transparent. One that has candidates that go well beyond having a few paper qualifications (because degrees are now a dime a dozen).

If I were to cast my vote for an opposition candidate, I need to be assured that this person is not an opportunist. Every person now knows that the tides are moving against the PAP’s favour and there is greater and greater chance to enter Parliament. Why would anyone want to be a politician? What ability does this person have? These two things at least needs to be clear.

PM Lee put it nicely – let’s build a good, strong, honest and clean opposition, strong enough to rival the PAP. Then perhaps, we’ll see real progress for Singapore – and that she remains exceptional in her standing in the world.




About the author

Benjamin Chiang

Benjamin Chiang is an enthusiast of good advertising, deep thinking, labour issues and chocolate. He writes also at www.rangosteen.com and occasionally on Yahoo!

The views expressed are his own.

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