The Worker’s Party revealed that according to the Government, an opposition party in Singapore must have at least 15 per cent representation in parliament to be represented by a marching contingent at the annual National Day parades.
This was made clear when former party chief, the late veteran politician J.B. Jeyaretnam, wrote to the Government in 1982 requesting whether the WP could be represented at the parades by a marching contingent, shortly after he was elected Member of Parliament in the Anson constituency by-election the year before.
Then-Senior Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Defence, Phua Bah Lee, responded on behalf of the government that “participation of political parties in our National Day Parades will be limited to the party in power and to an opposition party that has at least 15 per cent of the seats in Parliament.”
Phua also revealed that only the ruling People’s Action Party has taken part in National Day parades since Singapore gained independence: “No political party other than the party in power has taken part in National Day parades since 1965.”
Besides being the only parliamentarian from his party then, Jeyaretnam had been the only elected opposition politician in the House at the time.
The WP shared a copy of Phua’s correspondence to Jeyaretnam on Facebook and included a part of WP parliamentarian Pritam Singh’s speech at the party’s 60th anniversary dinner last week, where he revealed this interesting fact. Singh had said:
“as part of the WP60 anniversary book research, a little historical gem was unearthed. Apparently, Mr J B Jeyaratnam had also asked the Government if the Workers’ Party could be represented by a marching contingent at the National Day Parade shortly after he became MP for Anson in 1981. The Government replied formally, with then Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Defence Phua Bah Lee stating that any opposition party seeking to march at the National Day Parade would need to have at least 15% of the seats in parliament before it would be allowed to do so.”