Analysing Low’s speech of “Unity? What unity?”

In Political governance on 27/01/2013 at 5:10 am

— Netizens note: Nemesis did not punish his hubris

I was wrong. The WP won, overturning the 14 percentage point advantage of the PAP. My friend who predicted that with the amenities already in place, or on the way, the voters would vote WP. They had nothing to lose. Here’s TRE immediate take on it: Lingering unhappiness over issues like immigration and transport continue to plague the Government and the major policy announcements over the past few weeks clearly did not sway public opinion.

The WP also seems to have picked up momentum since their historic win in Aljunied GRC two years ago and it is clear that a desire for a strong opposition voice is a tide that might prove difficult for the PAP to reverse.

Ms Lee Li Lian also achieved a first in the history of Singapore – for the first time, an opposition managed to win a multi-cornered fight in an election. That speaks a lot on how Singaporeans feel about PAP these days.

So the 22 January 2013 speech by Low setting out the WP’s position on Opposition unity: it was for the fairies as far as WP was concerned did not upset Nemesis even though he got a lot of stick from netizens. It didn’t upset the 3,000 voters who swung the area WP’s way.

Below is an analysis sent in by “Choked by red pills” written in the immediate aftermath of that speech.

But first let me say that I understand Low’s annoyance with the calls of unity or co-operation. Based on what KennethJ and Mad Dog Chee said, it seems that their idea of teaming up against the PAP is: “You do the work, I get the glory and acclaim”. It juz isn’t on especially in the case of one-man band KennethJ s/o JBJ. What had he to offer to WP in PE? Look at his rally attendances. As to his economic expertise, if the WP wanted to tap economic expertise there are many high IQ, High EQ economists that the WP can take advice from.

At least in the case of SDP, one could argue that Mad Dog Chee offered extending the loan to the WP of the rabid anti-PAP vote, so that WP has a base on which to do its traditional outreach to the moderates. But even I who incline towards this view of the SDP having the mad dog vote, can’t be sure if this is true, or of the size of said vote, unless the SDP fights the WP. I’ll explore why the SDP WP blinked one of these days.

Then there is the resentment within the WP (very understandable) of the Johnnies come later: who are trying to tumpang on the brand building (that the opposition to the PAP can be responsible, mature and moderate; not just a “motley crew” of bicycle thieves, loonies led by a brave, charismatic, egoistic demagogue) by WP (under Low) since 2001. NSP, RP and even SDP were riding on WP’s hard work. The Mad Dog party only turned to electoral politics in 2010. Before that it was bite-and-bait-the-government  game.

Then there is for Low and the other WP leaders the issue of pleasing their activists who are not MPs. The activists want a crack at $15,000 allowances, The jockeying to get places in Aljunied was not funny.

So while I have problems with WP’s performance since GE 2011, I’m on Low’s side when he sneers, “Unity? What unity? Co-operation? What Co-operation?” when the other pygmies parties want the giant to tie himself up, so that they can take advantage of said giant’s hard work.

Having said all this, I commend this for yr reading. Written by one “Choked on red pills”, it analyses Low’s unity speech of 22 January. It was written on 23 January, well before yesterday’s victory.

For all intents and purposes, this Saturday’s by-election may not be significant for the country’s political future …

However, last night’s rally is extremely significant. It’s not because LTK chose to regale us with his POV about the opposition’s political history since 1991

(note: history is often written by the victor). It’s his explicit rhetoric that his party of alternative political moderates will now go their own way. It wasn’t implied. It wasn’t a suggestion. It wasn’t a hint. He said “opposition unity is impossible”.

Before 2011, it may be reasonable to believe that politics in our neighbouring country was far advanced in terms of maturity than ours. The ruling party there was dealt a heavy blow and resulted in the resignation of their Prime Minister who presided over the elections. It was possible because the opposition there had a central figure, who could persuade other parties to form one united banner against the ruling party, i.e., a coalition. The rest, as we know, is history and there is talk about how the coming elections up there could possibly result in more gains for the opposition.

With LTK’s strongly worded statements during last night’s rally, all chances of an opposition coalition have evaporated. This means that the strategy that the opposition held since 1980s – to avoid three-cornered fights – has been abandoned*. While it signals his confidence in his own party which he has painfully shaped (to his credit), there will be serious implications for Singapore’s political future from this.

Firstly, WP will strongly brand itself as a moderate alternative to the PAP. With the tacit rejection of any form of co-operation with other opposition parties politically, it will go their own way but possibly not stray too far away from the path that the PAP treads in terms of policy. At the same time, with LTK’s rhetoric, he has burnt a fair bit of bridges with the other parties. Effectively, it will be far harder for WP to convince other parties to form any agreement with them if it needs a slim majority to form the Government in the (far) future.

At this point, it may be useful to be reminded of how, when PE SMC was open to a by-election, many believed that the old strategy of a two-cornered fight would still serve the best interests in sending another opposition candidate to Parly. Which means, other parties should stay away from contesting so that WP will have abetter chance of winning the BE. [Yet, ethically it may be tricky to suggest that WP should have the right to contest in the two-cornered fight as they weren’t the first to contest there.] But with LTK’s speech last night, it is an admission that the WP will not hesitate to contest in other wards even if other parties had “staked their claims” and worked the ground there.

  1. The possibility of PAP staying on power is low if they carry on with the current ways,it is the trend line,Sir.I sincerely hope that brilliant PM Lee ,a Cambridge trained mathematician can sort out on how to reverse a trend line which is too obvious.

  2. PAP would not be able to stay on power,if they carry on the present way or PAP’s new way since national elections 2011,it is the trend line,Sir.
    I sincerely pray that PM Lee,a Cambridge trained mathematician,can sort out the correct way to reverse this trend line quick,his teat is in 2016,not too far away.

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