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Posts Tagged ‘JBJ’

WP should resurrect its 1984 manifesto and 1991 speeches?

In Economy, Political economy, Political governance on 21/03/2014 at 4:55 am

(Or “Back to the future for WP in next GE?

In the course of helping the author of Dissident Voices in the research for the sequel, I borrowed the WP 50th Anniversary Commemorative Book from the National Library, Marine Parade branch. I couldn’t find it on the shelves so I asked the librarian if it was “protected” by an invisibility field or was only available to the “right” people. No, it wasn’t hidden away under lock and key. It was openly displayed on the shelf near the PAP’s 50th anniversary book. But it is such an inconspicuous volume that I missed it.

The book told me things that the ST never reported about the 1984 and 1991  general elections. Remember that these events happened before the internet age. If the media didn’t report something, it didn’t exist for practical reasons (Somewhere I blogged on how the 1988 results for Eunos GRC came as a surprise: WP nearly won).

I learnt that the 1984 election manifesto was entitled”Wake Up to Your Freedom , It’s Time”. calling for the people to vote for “the Hammer for a caring society”. The WP called for

– Free and adequate medical care for the needy

– Commission to review education policy

–Free schooling and equal opportunities in education for children from poor families

– Workers’ rights

– Reduced CPF contributions and the right to take your CPF savings at 55

– Adequate care for the aged

– Greater share forSsingaporeans in the economic wealth

– Help for the disabled

– Abolition of tax subsidies and privileges for the rich

– Reasonable compensation for acquired properties

– Abolition of tax on water, light and telephone services

– Review of all fees paid to government and statutory boards

– Guaranteed personal for every citizen

– Freedom from exercise of arbitrary power and protection of citizen’s rights

All this in response to the younger PAP’s ministers call to vote for the PAP for a Swiss std of living.

Compare this to the 2011 manifesto (Key Highlights) which has since been watered down. No more public tpt nationalisation.

I find the 1984 manifesto more stirring and, more importantly, rationally relevant today. True the ideas in the manifesto sounded like pie-in-the-sky in 1984 (when I voted for the WP because I believed that a one-party state was bad for S’pore even though I was happy with most of what LKY, Dr Goh and the other Water Margin “bandits” were doing for us: ya I that ungrateful), but the ideas are no longer rubbish.

According to the PAP we now have a Swiss standard of living (huh? OK, like us the Swiss are unhappy about immigration, so unhappy that in a recent referendum they told the govt to restrict immigration)), and it’s a fact that we got oddles of money in the reserves (though you wouldn’t think so reading Chris Balding and his mindless “hate S’pore” groupies) thanks partly to Dr Goh’s ideas: doesn’t this mean we can now afford the things WP was calling for in 1984?

As regards the danger of overspending, we got the capital, and part of the income from it locked away from the govt in power, whether it be PAP or not. So the govt can only spend what it raises in taxes and the like, what with borrowing requiring the president’s approval.

So the ground is fertile for trying shumething new without worrying that the new policies cannot be reversed.

Another interesting fact I learnt is that according to the book in the 1991 GE, speeches centred mainly on bread-and-better issues:

The PAP would give beautiful promises before elections but there would always be strings attached — service charges would see a hike soon after.

– Under PAP’s reign, it would be difficult to maintain a family and provide decent education for the next generation.

– Their policies have promoted social inequality and a widening of the rich-poor divide.

– Job security for the workers was pathetically limited.

Sounds familiar?  Back to the future?

So, all in all, JBJ and his merry men of bicyle thieves*, ex-Woodbridge patients* , opportunists and economic illiterates were prescient. More prescient than me at least (trained lawyer and wannabe corporate financier). They were prescient earlier than Dr Chee who was still in shorts in 1984. Remember he had been banging away since the 1990s about growing inequality etc as the SDP rightly never fails to remind us. Well JBJ and his merry men had been doing so earlier.

With this track record, why doesn’t WP remind us that it called the future right in 1984 and 1991?

One reason could be that Low is a modest man, not prone in triumphalism; he was Organising Secretary in 1988. Another reason could be that the WP thinks that in the real world the public has a bad impression of the WP in those years even though JBJ is fondly remembered in cyberspace. History began only in 2001, after Low took power from JBJ.

It’s a fact (not a Hard Truth or a Heart Truth) that after the 1997 GE, the WP went AWOL (or is it MIA?).

It went so AWOL or MIA that it could only field two candidates in 2001. It had wanted to field a GRC team too but one James Gomez** it is alleged screwed up, even though publicly Low took responsibility for the balls-up. In 1988, in the first GE under the uber gerrymandering GRC system, it fielded 32 candidates of uneven quality and contested 6 GRCs and 14 SMCs. In 1991 it fielded 13 candidates in 2 GCs and 5 SMCs. in 1996 it fielded 14 candidates in 3 GRCs and one SMC (Houygang). The candidates in 1991 and 1997 were the kind of people voters were comfortable with.

True the leadership had a major distraction that started when JBJ as the editor of the Hammer, even though he didn’t understand written Tamil, published a letter written in Tamil. Let these extracts tell the story.

Legal Action: An Tamil Article Published on THE HAMMER
In November 1995, the Party and the whole of its Central Executive Council found itself the object of two defamation suits filed by five PAP Tamil MPs and eleven members of the Organising Committee of the Tamil Language Week arising from an article published in the Party organ, “The Hammer”. The Plaintiffs’ complaint in both suits was that the article implied that their efforts to promote the Tamil Language had been less than sincere.Members of the Central Executive Council under suit by PAP Tamil MPs and the Organising Committee of the Tamil Language Week were:-
Chairman Dr Tan Bin Seng
Vice-Chairman A. Rahim Rahman
Secretary-General J. B. Jeyaretnam
Assistant Secretary-General Low Thia Khiang
Treasurer Sim Say Chuan
Organising Secretary Ng Ah Chwee
Committee Member Lim Ee Peng
Committee Member James Teo Kian Chye
Committee Member James Tan Joo Leng
Committee Member K. Mariappane
Committee Member Chan Keng Sieng
Eventually, in September 1997, the Party and its Central Executive Council members agreed to pay the five PAP Tamil MPs by 6 instalments, damages for defamation of $200,000/- (inclusive of legal costs). The suit by the eleven members of the Organizing Committee was in the course of hearing at time of writing.
 …

Judgment: A Tamil Article Published in THE HAMMER
By the said Judgment given at the High Court on the 30th November 1998 that Jeyaretnam, A Balakrishnan and the workers’ party were collectively and severally ordered to pay ten of the plaintiffs in the said suit a total sum of $265, 000/- for damages and costs to be taxed.The Worker’s Party’s appeal against the said judgment was dismissed on 21 April 1999. By then the total sum had snowballed to close to half a million dollars, inclusive of legal costs.

(Above extracts from http://archive.is/lSomP#selection-1561.0-1583.184)

(Update at 6.52 on day of publication: More on nuances of the defamation case: http://article14.blogspot.sg/2012/03/who-got-facts-wrong-kenneth-jeyaretnam.html and http://www.google.com.sg/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CCkQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.lrwc.org%2Fws%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2012%2F03%2FDefamationinSingapore.pdf&ei=N3ErU56GM877rAfhr4D4BA&usg=AFQjCNEGC0kB5Gwv5vdRztQr1ooO1060KA&bvm=bv.63316862,d.bmk)

Whatever the reason for not invoking the past in the past since 2001, the WP should seriously rethink the strategy of trying to be near-clones of the MIW. It was the right strategy in the noughties, and it culminated in the victories in 2011 (it campaigned as the voters’ co-driver to the PAP), 2012 and 2013. Huat ah.

But is it the right strategy for the next GE? For the reasons given above, I think not. It’s like the by-election strategy that was adopted by accident in 1991 (JBJ didn’t want it but he couldn’t get enough WP candidates); gd idea for its time but by the end of the decade had outlived its usefulness.

What do you think?

Especially if the ideas expressed here (http://thehearttruths.com/2014/03/19/truth-exposed-how-the-pap-will-crash-the-singapore-economy/take root in the real world), not juz  cyberspace i.e.”cowboy towns” (actually paper-warriors’ alternative reality).

As someone who wants for starters, an opposition that deprives the PAP of a two-thirds parliamentary majority, I don’t want the next GE to be a rerun of the 1997 one.

*OK, OK . Only one of each.  But there were many “strange” MP candidates, pre 1988. But thinking about it only those who perceived reality differently from other S’poreans would have dared take on the PAP in the 70s and 80s.  Remember LKY was no wimp like Goh or Pinkie; he was the leader of Water Margin “bandits”.

**Yup the same Gabra Gomez of 2006. His instructors in BMT would sure have been real nervous during range, and grenade throwing. In 2011, SDP made sure he kept away from the form filling.

JBJ: cub & young adult yrs

In Uncategorized on 07/03/2014 at 6:39 am

I’m helping the author of “Dissident Voices” (reviewed here) on his follow-up book (DV II) which will include JBJ and Lee Siew Choh by doing the basic research. Here are my notes and observations on JBJ’s life up to the historical Anson victory. I’m publishing it (and subsequent notes and observations on JBJ etc) because my piece on Lee Siew Choh helped garnered some delicious tit-bits from readers that if verified can be used in the planned book e.g. that he was brilliant academically, winning prizes, and that a son was jailed for refusing to do NS. Hopefully, this berry-picking can be repeated for JBJ etc with yr help.

JBJ: cub & young adult yrs

Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam or J. B. Jeyaretnam  or more commonly and affectionately  “J.B.J.” was born on 5 January 1926,  into an Anglican family of Christian-Tamil descent in then Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) when his parents were on “home leave” from Malaya.

As his father was working in Muar [Who was his father's employer? What was his occupation?], Malaya, he first went to school at a French convent in Muar.  He then attended Muar’s Government English School When his father was transferred to Johor Bahru,  he studied at the English College there.

Here’s something from a blogger* (who also said he was the only male in his convent class: wah got harem so young leh) that I had not come across anywhere elsewhere on what he did during the Japanese Occupation.

He enrolled in Japanese classes/schools in JB and Syonan (Singapore’s Japanese name) to further his studies as he put it – ‘at the time we didn’t know if this was truly the end of the British Empire’.

Having gained some proficiency in Japanese, he was quite naive when his Japanese tutor told him to follow him and start a Japanese class in Muar. He wanted to go, but his father put a stop to it and instead found him a job at the Census Dept. Later he moved on as an interpreter in the Transport Dept, when the Census Dept closed down. He was forthright in admitting why – at the time the Japanese started recruiting young men to work in ‘the Death Railway’ at the Siam-Burma border. Having a job meant that he wasn’t likely to drafted in service at the notorious site. The job paid little but it gave him a chance to buy stuff like tapioca which became his family’s staple food during the 44 month Japanese Occupation.

He would go on to admit that the occupation moulded him into what he would become later. He was a shy and timid boy, but war forced him to take initiatives and be a man. It made him more out-spoken and independent.

After the Japanese Occupation, he came to Singapore to study at St Andrew’s school. (TRE and TOC readers’ would be cursing him and the govt for this today?)

The same blogger reports that his father wanted him to study medicine; but he won, via a correspondence course (reported the Guardian in its obituary), a place to study law at University College London. According to the Guardian, “There, a lecture by Nye Bevan inspired his early socialist beliefs.”

But it sure didn’t show because after he was called to the English Bar by Gray’s Inn, on his return home, in 1952, he joined the Singapore Legal Service.  Not for him the life of a socialist activist in private legal practice, the path followed by one Lee Kuan Yew (LKY). But to be fair to JBJ, he came from a less wealthy background than LKY.

JBJ served as a magistrate, crown counsel, deputy public prosecutor and district judge (becoming the equivalent of today’s Chief District Judge), and as the registrar of the Supreme Court+. He resigned from the service in 1963and entered private practice [Which firm did he join?],  setting up his own law firm in 1968.  The JBJ version was that he was disillusioned with the direction the Legal Service was heading under the govt of LKY. The LKY version was that he resigned because he was bitter at not being appointed a High Court judge. (The usual promotion for the Subordinate Court’s highest judge then and now). Most probably the truth lay in between. LKY and his govt had little time for those who they believed believed in the colonial values. After all, his sons were expensively educated here and in the UK: not for them a local education, where even in schools like RI and ACS, 40 students in a class were the norm. Today our elite schools follow the posh British fee-paying schools with about 25 to a class.

He had married in February 1957, Margaret Cynthia Walker, a British law student he had known in London, and their relationship had endured his return to S’pore. JBJ’s best man at his wedding was Tan Boon Teik, who would become Singapore’s longest serving Attorney General (AG), and JBJ’s nemesis in later years.

The 1960s and early 70s must have been the time that his eldest son Kenneth J, alluded to when he said that the family had a driver, lived in a bungalow and had a dog called “Rusty”. It was a gd time to be an upper middle class professional. But JBJ must have been restless.

In 1971, Jeyaretnam led a group of lawyers [Any idea who they were? Was Gopalan Nair one of them?] who took over the zombie that was the Workers’ Party and became the party’s Secretary-General.  The WP had been founded in 1957 as his personal vehicle by S’pore’s first Chief Minister, David Marshall, after he resigned office. It now became JBI’s personal war chariot until he was deposed as the WP’s leader in 2001, 30 years later.

In the 1972 and 1976 general elections he was thrashed by the PAP candidates he stood against. But he kept on battling away even though he was thrashed again in by-elections in 1977 and 1979. He exemplified what Samuel Beckett the playwright wrote, “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.”

In 1978 (or was it 1977?), Lee Kuan Yew successfully sued him for defamation. The courts found that JBJ had accused him of nepotism and corruption, and of being unfit to be prime minister**. Mr Lee was awarded damages and costs. An appeal to the Privy Council in London was defeated. While I find most of the other defamation suits problematic because they were petty whatever the law says, in this case, I think that LKY had every moral right to sue and win damages.

JBJ and his groupies, ang moh journalists, anti-PAP paper warriors, and ang moh tua kee S’poreans make such of the fact that  “such comments in many democracies would not lead to libel actions but be regarded as part of the cut-and-thrust of parliamentary politics.”. True but up to a point only. They forget that the leaders of political parties don’t make remarks alleging corruption about govt leaders unless they have evidence. When was the last time you heard Republican presidential candidates or the Republican leader of the House or a Republican senator call or imply the president of the US corrupt? Or the leader of the opposition in the UK call the PM corrupt? JBJ went too far this time as he did in the 1990s where he published a defamatory letter the contents of which he didn’t understand (it was in Tamil) and getting not only himself, but other WP leaders into trouble. More on this when I cover that period.

In 1980, he lost again in a general election, though the margin was now a very respectable by 47.0% to 53.0%. His wife died that year of cancer, leaving him a single parent with two sons, and debts. It was not a good year for him. But “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better,” seemed written for him.

In 1981, he became the first opposition politician since Singapore’s independence in 1965 to win a seat in Parliament.  He defeated the candidate of the governing People’s Action Party (PAP) at a by-election in the Anson constituency. It was a famous victory; made sweeter because the by-election had been held because the govt nominated Anson MP and NTUC Chief, CV Devan Nair for the post of president, on the death of President Sheares.

In subsequent posts, I’ll share my notes and takes on his later life and what I see as his enduring legacy. Certainly not the WP or the Reform Party or his style of defamatory rhetoric, but still a legacy, though there are parts that would pain him.

—-

*http://anyhowhantam.blogspot.sg/2013/10/remembering-singapores-lion-of.html

**At a rally in 1977 he said “… I’m not very good at the management of my own personal fortunes, but Mr Lee Kuan Yew, has managed his personal fortunes very well. He is the Prime Minister of Singapore and his wife is the senior partner of Lee & Lee and his brother is Director of several companies including Tat Lee Bank in Market Street, a bank that was given a permit with alacrity, banking permit license when other banks were having difficulty in getting the license”. He paid dearly for these words with damages and costs being awarded to LKY. And as his son Kenneth J said, the family lost the driver, bungalow and dog.

+Update on 14th March 2014 at 6.30pm: He was also tutor in legal philosophy and criminology at the University of Malaya in S’pore. (The WP 50th Anniversary Commemorative Book 1957-2007)

 

 

Waz petition lady’s game?

In Political governance on 25/06/2012 at 4:31 am

(Or “Were lawyers in the past so dumb and cowardly?”

The court case on whether the PM has unfettered discretion to call a by-election will soon be heard. Despite it being overtaken by events, the petitioner, Mdm Vellama, is continuing her suit after the AG refused her request for the AG not to ask for costs if she withdrew her petition.

She has juz doubled yet again. She will give up her court case if PM makes declaration on by-elections in Parliament . The AG has told her to bugger off (of course politely). She had juz raised the stakes, wanting PM to testify.

Waz her game? Is she a principled, brave citizen? A publicity hound? Qui lan lady? Clueless? Or juz badly advised?A worrying tot is that her love of doubling her legal “bets” could mean that she is a compulsive gambler by nature.  

To recap, she had asked the court whether the PM has unfettered discretion to call a by-election in Hougang. She was afraid that she might not have an MP to seek help from. 

Her lawyer helpfully pointed out that thrice, no by-elections were called:

– In 1983, when the Havelock seat became vacant, then PM Lee Kuan Yew said: “There is no reason why the people of Havelock should have a by-election.”

– In November 1986, the JBJ was disqualified from holding the Anson seat. In his answer to opposition member Chiam See Tong’s query in Parliament, Minister S Dhanabalan said : “He  has been convicted of a criminal offence and fined and sent to jail. They [Anson constituents] have to learn to live with the consequences of their choice.”

– In December 1986, the Geylang West seat became vacant after its MP, Teh Cheang Wan, committed suicide. Then Deputy Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong explained that there would be no by-election in the ward because the government was “contemplating introducing a Bill to form Town Councils.”

I wonder why no-one had petitioned the court to get the government to call a by-election until this year? Surely there were lawyers* at that time who are as smart and brave as Ravi** ? As Chiam was an MP on two of the above instances, perhaps someone should ask him why he never bothered to bring a case? Does he agree that the PM has an unfettered discretion on whether to call a by-election or not to fill a vacancy?

Whatever it is, the lady is likeky to end up with a huge bill to pay: AG’s costs.

As AG has rightly pointed out, a by-election has been called and held, so there no need for judge to decide anything. The petitioner is wasting court’s time and should be “punished” (my word, not AG’s) by having costs awarded against her. Technically, AG is right.

As a trained lawyer who did some court work as a very junior lawyer, I think the original petition was brought too early. The petition should have been brought on 16th May, three months*** and a day after the was seat vacated, the day incidentally that PM announced the date of the by-election.

But the lady was too impatient it seems to have an MP to look after her needs. Or was she badly advised? Her lawyer was the same guy who advised TRE to fight a request from LKY’s younger son to remove some defamatory material. He wanted to go to court and argue that the request was unconstitutional. TRE settled instead without paying anything, and on fair terms. If it had gone to court, the legal bills would have huge, win, lose or draw.

Let’s hope that when costs are awarded against her, the people who promised to fund the petitioner’s costs will folk out the money. Otherwise the lady petitioner may have to clean the AG’s offices for free for the rest of her life to avoid being made a bankrupt. Her day job is a cleaner, remember.

Doubtless she will be thanking Ravi the lawyer while she cleans and sweeps the Chambers. And doubtless, the other Ravi, P the social worker, will be trying to help her.

——–

*There was JBJ who although, not very smart, was brave. And there was Francis Seow, a former Solictor-General, a good litigator with the brain of an intellectual, and the heart of a lion. He is still alive though not in practice. He is a Harvard Fellow, wanted by the S’pore government on some tax charge. He was detained under the ISA for a short while in the late 1980s.

**The lawyer who argued that a drug mule who refused to testify against an alleged drug lord should have his conviction set aside because the state should have compelled said drug mule to testify against said drug lord: fortunately the judges saw thru the Alice-in-Wonderland logic of lawyer Ravi, even if he and other “Free the mule” groupies didn’t.

***Three months is some kind of marker among activists because of a previous constitutional provision that a by-election had to be held three months after the seat was cacated. This requirement was later removed. I’m simplifying the issue.

Why TJS never got invited for tea and biscuits

In Political governance on 27/11/2011 at 5:47 am

(As I recently wrote about an RI boy, I tot I might as well write about another RI boy, especially one very, very proud to be from RI. So proud that it annoyed me.)

The JBJ Memorial event five weeks to the day yesterday (Saturday), entitled “Heroes in Our Hearts”, turned out to be more than a tribute to JBJ. What has gone uncommented (until now) is that a speech there solved a puzzle.

During the May GE campaign, Tan Jee Say told us that he had been told when he was a civil servant (in the early 1980s presumably?) that the PAP had considered him as a possible candidate-MP. But nothing happened and he never heard about the matter again. (Three other scholars born in the same year as him, 1954, Teo Chee Hean (in 1992), Lim Hng Kiang (in 1991) and George Yeo (in 1988) were tapped to become MPs and ministers.)

During the same election, his ex-boss, Goh Chok Tong, said that TJS was not gd enough to be a Permanent Secretary, and so he left government service.  TJS denies this. More details.

TJS’s speech at the JBJ Memorial tells us that he openly cheered in the 80s for JBJ at JBJ’s public appearances and rallies.

That he openly showed his support for a non-establishment figure and knowing the views that the PM of the day, one LKY, held abt JBJ, it is very clear (to me at least) why TJS was never invited to a tea-party, and why he couldn’t ever be a Permanent Secretary. He was “unsound”, likely to be unreliable when the call came to close ranks against the “enemies of the state”, and other trouble makers.

That he rose to be the Principal Private Secretary of the then Deputy Prime Minister (and PM in waiting), despite such open support for JBJ, speaks well of the system of meritocracy in the admin service in the 1980s, and how decent a man Goh Chok Tong was. (Regular readers will know I am usually no fan of GCT or of his policies.) 

Yes, yes, I know that a cynic should say that there is only TJS’s word that he attended and cheered at JBJ’s rallies. But I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt even though I know people who were his senior in Morgan Grenfell Asia in 1991, who are annoyed that he claimed the credit for MGA winning the privatisation mandate from SingTel, three months after he joined MGA: “He makes S’pore sound like Indonesia”; “MGA had been cultivating SingTel for years”; and “What else did he win?”.

(Reminding me of what George Orwell in All Art Is Propaganda: Critical Essays wrote,  “A man who gives a good account of himself is probably lying, since any life when viewed from the inside is simply a series of defeats.” A good reminder why not to boast.)

My one criticism of his speech is that the speech came across as more about TJS* than about JBJ. But then brave men often have big egos, witness JBJ.

TJS is brave, not because of what he said he did 27 odd years ago, but because at age 57, he decided to do something very different and difficult, and which doesn’t pay well most of the time (he is out-of-pocket by at least S$127,000: enter politics on the side that always gets thrashed badly, like our national teams in sepak takraw, weightlifting, archery, basketball, footie, golf, dragon boat,  petanque, shooting, fencing and silat.

At the very least, even if he is an opportunist, he loves a challenge like Ulysses in Tennyson’s poem of that name which ends:

Though much is taken, much abides; and though

We are not now that strength which in old days

Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are—

One equal temper of heroic hearts,

Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

What the poem does not tell us is that Ulysses was drowned when a wave hit his ship and he was washed overhead. Heroes do not have the luxury of dying peacefully in their beds.

Finally, if anyone knows when he joined and left Standard Chartered, his designation(s) there, or whether he was in investment banking, fund management, or whatever there, please drop me an email. I know nothing of this period except that he was in StanChart. Likewise for his stint in Peregrine. BTW, interestingly, between 1991- 1997, he worked for  three different firms. I only worked for one.  

*It reminded me of LKY’s eulogy of Dr Goh Keng Swee. There was a credible rumour that some members of Dr Goh’s family were upset that the speech seemed more abt LKY than Dr Goh.

Do we need more political parties?

In Political governance on 16/09/2011 at 6:58 am

So now there are voices calling for Tan Jee Say and Dr Tan Cheng Bock to each form a new political party. And I’m sure, there are voices out there asking the “Voice of the People” to make a fool of himself again (this time with his daughter by his side) by forming the VP Party or VPP.

I’m sure some of these callers are thinking, genuine and sincere people, while some of the callers are PAP activists hoping to split the votes of voters unhappy with the PAP. But most of these calls are coming from very daft, but sincere and genuine people.

Think of where the parties of TJS and TCB will position themselves.

There are two slightly left-of-centre parties, the Workers’ Party and the Singapore People’s Party. Further left (but not on extreme left, despite what the local constructive, nation-building media say), we have the Singapore Democratic Party and somewhere between the WP and the SPP, and the SDP, there is for the moment the National Solidarity Party.

The NSP is forever changing shape in between general elections and, at the moment, is undergoing yet another metamorphoses. The WP and SDP have strong brands and active supporters, while the SPP is finally trying to make a serious effort to move away from brand “Chiam”. Let’s hope it succeeds. Chiam deserves to leave behind a political legacy. He showed us that an ordinary, decent man could take on the PAP and survive. There was no need to play the matyr game.

Now where will brand Tan Jee Say fit in? Based on his behaviour during the presidential election, his party will be further left of the SPP and WP, and right of the SDP. A space that the NSP, with two of his scholat mates in its management committee, is now trying to make its own. Kinda crowded, aint it?

As for Dr Tan Cheng Bock, the man, who waffled on during the election about not being the preferred PAP candidate and abt unity via footie and multiracialim (If I sound mean, I remind that I voted for him. Yup I can be that irrational), where will his party stand? Right of the WP, and SPP most likely, based on his waffling.

Even if it occupies some of the right-of-centre space dominated by the PAP, it will be fighting for some of the very moderate left votes.

The space on the left is crowded, with these six parties. There may not be enough seats to satisfy the ambitions of these six parties in a general election. There may be three-way contests. Then there are the absolute no-hopers, Singapore Democratic Alliance and the RP: making a total of eight parties on the left. The only place left field unoccupied is on the extreme left.

Establishing a new party is not easy. Remember the Reform Party? Set up by the late JBJ, it had to be resurrected by his son, KennethJ,  because of JBJ’s death soon after its founding. Despite all the goodwill that the memory of JBJ attracts, the RP had problems recruiting. And anyway, the newbies soon left, leaving King KJ to play and fantasise alone.

So please, let’s not encourage bored men with large egos, deep pockets and axes to grind to form new parties of the left. The field is crowded left of centre with eight parties.

Now, there is plenty of space on the extreme right. Anyone bored with a big ego, deep pockets and an axe to grind interested? I’m sure one LKY will be the party’s patron if the party ideology is a mixture of fascism, capitalism, socialism and his Hard Truths.

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