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NUS Associate Professor asks whether the PAP is here to stay in new book

Dr Bilveer Singh says that the issue of durability when it comes to the PAP is highly critical since the party has dominated politics in Singapore for 60 years, since 1959

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Dr Bilveer Singh, an Associate Professor at the National University (NUS) of Singapore’s Department of Political Science, has published a new book – entitled “Is the People’s Action Party here to stay” – examining whether the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) will endure as the dominant political party in Singapore.

Dr Singh, who also serves as Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Centre of Excellence for National Security at Nanyang Technological University’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies and President of the Political Science Association of Singapore, noted that the issue of durability when it comes to the PAP is highly critical since the party has dominated politics in Singapore for 60 years, since 1959.

Asserting that the opposition seems to be growing stronger and that “the public is watching as the country faces crisis after crisis at home,” such as the recent spate of cyberattacks, the Hyflux saga, the MRT disruptions and constant price hikes in basic amenities, Dr Singh asks the pertinent question of whether the PAP can stumble and fall.

Pointing out that similar one-party dominant political parties have collapsed elsewhere in the world, like Malaysia’s Barisan Nasional which held the reins of the country until a stunning defeat by the opposition coalition in the watershed 2018 elections, Dr Singh asked whether such a fate would meet the PAP across the causeway.

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Dr Singh’s book extensively analyses several up-to-date developments, like the finalisation of the PAP’s 4G leadership, the Workers’ Party town council saga, and the efforts to form an opposition coalition led by Dr Tan Cheng Bock.

In an interview with The Independent, Dr Singh said that he wrote the book because “political systems referred to as ‘one-party dominant states’ do not last and almost all have collapsed.”

Asserting that it is important to review the state of power and play as far as the PAP’s one-party dominant system is concerned, Dr Singh added:

“PAP political leaders such as K Shanmugam, Lee Kuan Yew, Lee Hsien Loong, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Ong Ye Kung and even Heng Swee Keat have talked about such systems coming to an end – especially Shanmugam who drew a 70-year red line for such political parties – the question is: what is being done to prolong such a political system in Singapore?”

Pointing out that the impact of globalisation and regional developments could affect the nation’s attitude towards a one-party dominant state, he asked:

“How will the PAP react in terms of prolonging its hold on power in Singapore in the coming years; how will the Opposition organised itself to grab power; and finally, how will the electorate view these contestations in a largely post-Lee Kuan Yew setting?

“Will 2029, then the PAP being in power for 70 years being the crunch time, a self-declared deadline by PAP leaders such as Shanmugam?”

Dr Singh’s book, “Is the People’s Action Party here to stay,” is now available at major bookshops in Singapore like the Kinokuniya chain of stores. -/TISG

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