Tan Cheng Bock’s PSP must contest aggressively with WP
In any healthy and resilient democracy, plurality of political parties is important. It is necessary for the electorate to have a slate of credible parties to chose from.
Each election, there are many contenders to the various wards… however, real choice is extremely narrow. The Worker’s Party tries to form a good counterweight to the PAP… but that has not really floated any good policy propositions. The odd observation is that people are starting to think that the Worker’s Party offers not much of a counter to the PAP.
The Parliamentary exchanges demonstrate this: Worker’s Party objections are almost always along the lines of “we accept, but it could be done better”. This isn’t exactly the sort of refreshing and dynamic shift that Singaporeans need.
So to me, I see in Tan Cheng Bock’s Progress Singapore Party, a new hope. Some see his as a betrayal, and even if it was, it could be a good one. You see, Tan is a known personality. However, he faces the same problem as Mahathir – both do not have a lot of time on their side. How many election cycles does he have to drive an impact? And if he wasn’t around, would the party still be able to drive an impact?
These questions weigh heavily on the PSP.
It is of utmost importance that the PSP realise small wins in the coming elections. If it does not, it would go the way of other parties – succumbing to leadership struggles, overtaken by foreign ideologies and eventually fading into irrelevance. If it can gain even one foothold now, it would present itself as a strong counterweight to both the PAP and the WP.
If the PSP does not gain this foothold, it may not ever have a chance. Who knows what political shifts or events would happen in the next 5 years? Fledgling parties are something of a fad in Singapore, if they do not establish themselves as serious proponents within an election cycle they risk fading away into the background.
Furthermore, the NCMP seats have been increased to 12. Today the Workers Party is already enjoying a dominant position in the NCMP seats and together with the ordinary Parliament seats, they form a sizeable stronghold. If the PSP is unable to win a constituency, the very least they can do is not allow the WP to speak from the NCMP chairs. Or for that matter, the other riot of political parties like SDP etc.
Now, let’s take for example the Reform Party – they were fresh, had new ideas and eager. They even had defectors from the NSP at first and Kenneth Jeyaratnam was a strong character who looked capable of steering votes to their gain. However, the 2 elections they contested left Jeyeratnam a disillusioned man, even berating Singaporeans for it.
Tan Cheng Bock has a lot of advantage on his side. He has strong financial backers, he is a character that Singaporeans are familiar with and he has interesting grassroots connections assisting him to walk the ground. He also has a strong motivation – having been asked to stand down from his PAP position and hence knowing the party quite well.
So maybe it would be good for PSP to be the master of all opposition parties – be the BN equivalent. Just wondering if the rest of the opposition is keen to support that.