Seven uncomfortable truth facing our opposition

Seven uncomfortable truth facing our opposition:-

1.  Too many opposition parties

For a country with only 2.3 million voters, we may have too many opposition parties operating in our congested political landscape.

Eleven parties currently crowd the tightly-held political space and many are small splinter parties usually formed by a single strongman aiming to win a prestigious seat in Parliament.

There is a urgent need for these small splinter parties to collaborate and form up to be one or two bigger parties but so far this seems hard to come by.

The much-anticipated collaboration effort by Dr Tan Cheng Bock to gather all these opposition parties so that it is seemed as more credible and cohesive has also gone up in smoke as so far there is no follow-up effort on this initiative.

With a small electorate, Singapore’s alternative politics has a better chance if its left to no more than five or six parties – some small parties may actually do the opposition alot of good by closing down or merging with the others.

2. Only show up during election

Some opposition parties, due to the lack of resources, only show up during election and it is tough for the electorate to truly swing their votes from the incumbent even though they are looking for an alternative voice.

It is no wonder many wards contested by the Workers’ Party garnered more votes generally than the rest of the other opposition parties. It is seen as credible and with six seats won so far, it is Singapore’s best opposition party to date – despite their unwillingness to collaborate with other opposition parties. Moreover, they are seen as actively campaigning all along even though the election is long over through their solid ground constituency work and strong presence in Parliament.

As the alternative needs to put in double the efforts of the incumbent to win votes, not doing much during the five years from the last election leading to the next one is political suicide.

However, with very little resources in terms of manpower and finances, small splinter parties have the work cut out for them and it is always a tall order to consistently carry out ground work among the constituencies they are contesting.

3. One-man party

Many smaller opposition parties are also seen as one strongman party giving the impression that there is not much support from the masses.

A strong political party has to be formed from a team and only looks credible if it’s presence is representative of several other viable voices within.

Of course, there is always that one visionary leader holding the fort but he must be supported by several others who are throwing their weight behind the party.

Initially, for a new party to flourish, there is usually always one loud voice coming out from the strongman but after a while he must be able to garner a few others who speak up loudly if not as loud as him.

4. Lack of unity

The biggest grouse of our opposition politics is the lack of unity among them – also a national disease we inherit from decades of self-centred mindlessness and egocentric meritocracy.

From the work places to families, we witnessed the horrible ill effects of self-centredness in many aspects of our society – the chomping of tissue paper on hawker centres to the unwillingness of passengers to give up their seats in our trains to other deserving ones.

its a natural option for the only opposition party Workers’ Party not to collaborate with the rest as truly there is nothing to gain and everything to lose. Moreover, the rest is still without a seat in Parliament and in all livelihood will want to use the opportunity to advance their own cause.

They don’t need to collaborate to venture on their own and frankly they have much more resources than all of the 10 other parties combined.

But, given this attitude, they will remain the party with only a co-driver seat and there is almost a non-existence chance that they can take over the government in the future.

When other parties come into play and win seats in the near future, they may find themselves on the sidelines and regret not wanting to collaborate to form any viable coalition before.

5. Lack of ground work/charity vehicle

Most of the smaller opposition parties have very little ground work  experience and also they lack a charity vehicle to spearhead their activities.

Perhaps only two other parties besides WP have a credible ground work programme which will last them till the next coming election.

Ground work allows a party to stay connected with the people and there is strong visibility during the duration of the activities carried out but it requires alot of efforts, time and volunteer manpower which not many parties have.

The lack of consistent viable ground work among many smaller parties have led to the criticism of them coming out only during the election period which further alienate them from the voters.

6. Criticism of one another

There is also the general feel that our opposition parties tend to criticise each other leading to the talk of disunity and fragmentation in the alternative camp.

This public spat will further reinforce the belief that the opposition camp is unreliable and thus undeserving of their vote. Moreover, as the political office is all about serving the people, voters can draw conclusion that such open public criticism of each other only fuel rumours that some opposition figures do so because of personal ulterior movies.

Opposition parties should keep criticism of others to themselves however valid the arguments may be.

A divided opposition is now the strongest bugbear of the alternative movement right now and unless this is properly rectified, we may see little hope of them mounting a stern challenge against the incumbent in the near future.

In politics, perception is everything and once a negative image is formed in the mind of the voter, it is difficult to erase it overnight.

7.  Musical chairs of candidates

Even though this is painful to write, some candidates played musical chairs during election and hop around parties in the hope of finding the right winning formula.

This happens to smaller parties as they have difficulty wooing the right candidates to their side and often they will desperately ask around for candidates to contest in their party – often during days leading to polling day.

This is a dangerous precedence which still happens regularly and it does not give voters much confidence seeing the last-ditch effort made by the alternative trying to provide the constituency with the right number of candidates especially in a GRC ward.

Granted that the GRC is there to make things difficult for the opposition but they have at least five years to settle for the candidates or at least try them out in some ground work activities in the hope groom them for candicacy.

When PAP designs the GRC system, it is meant to deter the opposition from contesting due to the sheer number of candidates required (up to six for some big GRC) and also the necessity of having a minority-race candidate within the group.

The GRC system and minority-race candicacy mean that some smaller parties will have immense difficulty attracting the right candidates to their team due to their size and influence which also means that they have to make do with lower-rung choices.

Many are thus quickly thrown into the fiery pit of campaigning days leading to the cast of crucial votes.

It is perhaps rightful for the opposition camp to go back to the years of Chiam See Tong who cleverly designed the system of voting for the opposition safely as the government has already been formed by not contesting in all the seats allocated.

Most Singaporeans though unhappy with the current regime still have no confidence in a alternative government other than the PAP due to its disunity and inexperience.

But the majority feels that there is the need to have a sizeable opposition in Parliament to provide a check and balance for the government.

The trick is who does the voters trust enough to provide this important mandate? So far, the Workers’ Party seems to  be the only party to have enjoy this esteemed privilege…


Gilbert Goh



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26 Responses to “Seven uncomfortable truth facing our opposition”

  • Flabbergasted:

    I will vote for a chimpanzee, as long as it is opposition.

    Having said that, I do agree that the oppo needs to look seriously at themselves.

    Everybody wants to be sec-gen, everybody wants to be prime minister. How?

    Get in first lah!!!

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  • Harder Truths:

    I fully agree Gilbert – excellent analysis as usual.

    $G lost a lot of good young talent after the last election. I believe many have given up as they have no confidence in the electorate.

    It is extremely difficult to be an oppo candidate or party member. The only appreciation they get is from the people – when that is missing and they are treated as third class then $G voters should only blame themselves for what comes next.

    Regardless of the outcome the all oppo taking part deserve our respect. I salute the lot of them.

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  • Deadly Sin of Democracy:

    Let no aspiring political opposition believe they can lead this nation better under the auspices of state institutionalized crony-capitalism.

    “Thou shalt not receive a secret salary in parliament.”(from GLC or otherwise)

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  • never voted pap:

    since GE2015 we realized pap is still in parleeement not because it is any good but rather it is because of 70% sheep mentality.

    if 70% sheep chooses to remain as sheep, even Dr Mahatir cannot do much.

    if 70% sheep chooses to remove pap, then, no need OPPO this OPPO that, yet pap is toppled swee swee.

    if 70% sheep chooses to remain as sheep, they cite all manner of excuses such as what can OPPO do, there is no credible OPPO, my son educated in NUS works for government and so we cannot vote OPPO, and such nonsense.

    if 70% sheep chooses to remove pap, as long as there is someone standing against pap, that someone wins.

    therefore OPPO this and OPPO that is armchair analysis. the ultimate is for pap to screw 70% sheep more and more so that 70% sheep turns against the hand that is screwing them. UNTIL then, there is no much OPPO can do.

    BUT, this is the one BUT, incessant broadcast via all media that there is this one OPPO coalition that can help lessen 70% misery, cannot stop. the seed must be planted in 70% sheep mind that there is escape from self inflicted misery via OPPO coalition.

    which comes first? 70% sheep to turn first or OPPO coalition to be in place first? hard to tell, just like chicken and egg which came first.

    70% sheep pain is already in place. pap is screwing them more and more. so the default action is for OPPO coalition.

    WHAT that means is Spore needs that one man to start that OPPO coalition. THAT one man who is destined by heaven to topple pap.

    WHO is that man? THAT man is someone

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  • Why suffered in silence:

    Fully agreed with you that too many fragmented opposition parties and perhaps self centred that exacerbate the lack of more credible opposition parties.We should have more opposition parties like PSP,PVP,SDP.Smaller parties should withdraw for the sake of our nation so as not to dilute the votes.Will they be that magnanimous to do that?

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  • Regime change is the solution:

    Straits Times: More teens in Singapore seeking help for school stress at IMH

    This is without a doubt another compelling reason for regime change. Save our youth. VTO.

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  • vincent tan:

    morning Gilbert,
    the suggestion of Bye-election stretagy to fight
    for less than half the seats is no no.
    Having Loser Mentality is coward inferority
    complex !
    should not and must not be propagate

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  • NotMyProblem:

    @Gilbert; At the current situation, it doesn’t matter what or how the Oppositions are. We just need to get back the country we love, by kicking out the PAP. This PAP government is self serving, greedy and enriching themselves only. Their favourite word is “foreigners create jobs for Singaporeans”. Resulted jobs were given to FTs.

    Now they still trying ways and means of holding on to power with the introduction of “Fake News” laws as what Dr. Mahathir anticipated: “We do not want any government, whether this or succeeding governments, to make use of this law in order to tell and create fake news in order to sustain themselves…. “.

    Only after we kicked out the PAP than we have a choice, when Oppositions can abolish the GRC. After the country is back to the people, only then the people choose the MPs into Parliament.

    Now only the useless people were elected into Parliament through GRCs. These MPs only serve the party and not the people. That’s the reason they abuse the Parliament and using it as a place for sleeping, if the MPs did attend the session.

    This is a situation of “beggar cannot be chooser”.

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  • Homeless Cat:

    Indeed. Maybe taking pages and paragraphs from other opposition parties in other countries will help. And if they join hands, we can take our country back.

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  • UniQ:

    I am deeply saddened with such an article after so much of unfortunate events have been bestowed on Singaporeans livelihood…

    Basically, Voters would vote for any Tom, Dick or Harry and even a little puppy !! as long as that individual or party is willing and has the guts to field themselves in the GE, I will give them a 4 year chance to serve, rather than 100% I sure die in suffering and even consider lesser than a FT, as a Born and Bred Citizen under the current regime.

    I have said my peace.

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  • N.Jungne:

    Yes Gilbert too much Indian-Chiefs.

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  • rukidding:

    No lah,….there is a up and coming PSP ,Progressive Sngapore Party which is probably best described as the likes of Malaysia PH,Pakatan Harapan !

    They have Dr M…..soon we will have DR Tan to lead !

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  • LIONS:

    Gilbert is right.
    Think in order to UNITE sgs,oppo sgs must first unite themselves.
    Too many parties with too little resource.
    Oppo *leaders* need to under voters are watching them more closely than they watch the PAPigs.

    This calls for TRUE SOLIDARITY.

    OPPO needs to PICK A LEADER NOW.

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  • patriot of TUMASIK:

    Spot on mostly but here is my TAKE lah!!!

    1)…Too many Indian Chiefs not enough Braves

    2)…Self-glory for attention NO commitments, just the fun of it to get attention during GE

    3)…Major Failure to agree to disagree even over common GROUND

    4)…Ability to stay the COURSE come what may and NOT talk BUT walk the TALK!!!…Full Credit to Dr Chee and Ken…Pak see bo chow and as for WP very committed & consistent but Lack CON???fidence

    As for the newbies we have yet to see but Cheng Bok is a Lau Chiow and may do well…Lim Tien??? so far ok but can he sustain???

    COMBINE these group into ONE…with The Nation and People in MIND & Heart and we can have a NEW GOVT and a NEW DAWN…Merdeka!!!

    lagi satu kali dengan Hati dan Cinta (with Heart & Love)…. bukan Tukang Bohong Con-YOU’s dengan semangat(spirit of Evil killing babies through LEEgal ABORTION)… Merdeka!!!!!!!!!!

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  • MarBowling:

    Hopefully in the coming GE, suspected PAPIGS mole Lina Chiam of Singapore Puki Party doesn’t sabotage Dr Chee SJ again. She should behave like a gentlewoman and NOT commit the misdeed of badmouthing Dr Chee during the SMC Puki Batok BE that caused about 60% of voters to vote for the PAPIGS Minority Candidate MoleLahLee

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  • So Vote SDP loh !:

    1. NOT a small party
    2. Show up all the time, write Policies copied by PAP some more !!
    3. More than 10,000 men/women.
    4. Unity demonstrated inside and outside of party
    5. Do massive ground and charity work
    6. Does not criticise other opposition parties, even organised event to bring them together
    7. Make musical video and not musical chair

    Waiting for what?

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  • Opposition dude:

    If WP is really the party that has the best chance of winning more seats this year then by all means please vote for them.

    If a majority think that some other opposition party can provide another check on PAP then I hope they get voted in as well.

    For now let us wait and see where all the bigger opposition parties contest before we all play fortune teller

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  • unity is strength:

    me thinks the PAP will win again, much to our horrors!
    if the fragmented opp parties wont unite to form coalitions, what else can we expect.
    but where there is life, there is still Hope…hope for the best.
    HOPE is all we have right now.

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  • vote not to become pap slaves:

    like one bright PRC ex president/ Chairman once said..
    ” doesnt matter if its a white cat or a black cat, or whatever color, as long as it can catch the mice”!
    so we sgs think of your future and your families’ futures as well.

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  • Bobo:

    Talking about giving up seat in MRT or buses, most people think that they need the seat more than any others. They might look young or healthy physically, perhaps they have some internal injury that required them to be seated. People should be more understanding and don’t KPKBING when no one wanted to offer them. Besides, who would want to stand in crowded trains and be pushed around by forces. With the regular increase in FTs packing in trains and buses, don’t expect courtesy in this country. 70% have voted for it.

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  • Jin Hao Lian:

    Kind of ironic for Gilbert to say opposition parties are disunited. But he’s right on one thing, self centered ness means it’s every man for himself. This applies to most living in Singapore. Foreigners also. It’s the culture – it’s infectious. It’s encouraged, because competitive people cannot unite as they are too busy vying with one another. It starts from school. So what are your solutions Gilbert?

    I kind of disagree with point 2. You say some only show up during election. Then what do you expect them to do? Run and manage a GRC even though not elected? If they are not elected, why should they help the residents? Do they owe it to voters to act for them? You want their service, you vote them.

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  • Game over:

    I totally believed it is an excuse. If you talk about WP, the party is so hard working but yet they nearly lost their pants.

    Basically it is down to the voters who still fear about voting opposition.

    Currently there are few major issues that voters need to understand if they keep voting PAP:

    1. CPF will changing policies till you are milk dry not just CPF but your bank accounts.
    2. Laws will expand and expand to suppress criticisms, we will lose our rights completely.
    3. 10M will come, more locals will be out of jobs.
    4. Healthcare will not be affordable.
    5. BTOs will not be affordable.

    So they keep voting PAP to screw themselves.

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  • LIONS:

    @Opposition dude:
    April 12, 2019 at 1:59 pm (Quote)

    If WP is really the party that has the best chance of winning more seats this year then by all means please vote for them.

    at the rate things are going ,think WP is likely to get lesser votes than the last GE unless WP takes LEAD to UNITE ALL OPPO as main oppo party in parliament.

    it seems WP prefer to go it alone.

    you reap what you sow.
    this is no time for individualism, sorry to be so frank.

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  • LIONS:

    I know I would be blamed for saying OPPO ALLIANCE is FUNDAMENTAL TO VICTORY FOR OPPO sgs but I cant lie to myself and say otherwise.

    too MANY OPPO PARTIES at the moment is simply UNWISE becos oppo sgs are fighting a *PARTY* with huge resources- including civil servants – at their disposal.

    if oppo sgs want to convince sgs that UNITY IS IMPORTANT FOR OUR SURVIVAL,oppo must first set an example; else,who will believe them?

    WHY MUST ALL OPPO LEADERS insist on their own CORE causes,why not have a COMMON CAUSE and that is to UPROOT THE GREEDY PAPies by first winning more votes this GE?

    WHY OPPO sgs think that they can win votes by being parochial?

    last GE is a good lesson for ALL OPPO when even WP lost ground to relatively weak PAP candidates at AJ?

    I see WP losing even more ground this round unless they decide to form ALLIANCE.



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  • msia boleh sg bodoh:

    just take a lesson from our “boleh” msian neighbors.
    do we love being sg bodohs ?

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  • Perspective:

    A clear leader will have to emerge to unite the Opposition, one who able to galvanize the people and get the country behind him. People look up to a “hero” or “savior” figure they can identify with and rally behind. He has to be better than what PAP has to offer to the people. PSP will be seen as another party added to the fray if it is unable to bring the other parties under its “palm tree” and Dr TCB’s position will be that of another “indian chief” fighting other “indian chiefs.”

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