Home News Featured News Lawrence Wong was spot on. With more sharp Opposition MPs like Sengkang...

Lawrence Wong was spot on. With more sharp Opposition MPs like Sengkang trio, PAP will face real threat

Sense And Nonsense by Tan Bah Bah

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Two messages coming out of the ruling People’s Action Party biennial conference last Sunday (Nov 6) seemed contradictory. But they were not. They were simply part of a familiar PAP song the title of which could well be Tina Turner’s “Simply The Best”. 

Party secretary-general Lee Hsien Loong took the Opposition to task for being AWOL (away without official leave) on the “spiky issue” of 377A of the Penal Code, which criminalises sex between men. 

“Ministers Masagos Zulkifli, K Shanmugam, Edwin Tong, Desmond Lee and others have spent months meeting contending groups, which all have very strong and passionately held views on this issue, he said, The Straits Times reported.

“They listened carefully, they explained patiently, they got all sides to accept that on such an issue, everyone has to give and take. No group can get everything it wants.

“Now, where is the opposition on 377A? Are they critiquing the government’s approach? Do they support or oppose what the government is doing? Are they offering alternative proposals? None of the above.

“The Opposition is missing in action (on 377A). They have said nothing so far.”

This was what I wrote in Sense and Nonsense in August: “Opposition parties may well be at a disadvantage, especially when they are yet to be elected or in power. Here’s one simple question for them: Are you on the side of an activist minority or the conservative majority?” Parliament will also have to move to protect the institution of marriage, traditionally defined as between man and woman. So do you move with the times and risk losing the votes of the majority even as you try to convince them that you need to do the right thing?

The PAP CEC focus on Nov 6 then switched dramatically from an “MIA Opposition” to one which could be in power sooner than Singaporeans think, with unspelt out dire consequences. 

Next PM-designate Lawrence Wong said the WP contested in six constituencies and won three during the last elections: “If you add up their votes across all six constituencies, the Workers’ Party actually won slightly more votes than the PAP overall.

“What if the WP had contested more seats? Would the PAP still have won 61 per cent of the votes nationwide? Would we still have returned to power?”

He added, according to a Today Online report: “This is why from day one after being designated the leader of the (fourth-generation) team, I said that I do not assume the PAP will win the next GE, or that I will inevitably become the next Prime Minister.”

The doomsday scenario threat –  of Singapore collapsing because of instability and of investors being scared away – has been losing its effectiveness as a scare tactic over the years. The fall of a GRC was the first major dent in that threat. It is not worth using anymore.

I am surprised that even at this stage of Singapore’s maturing political system, some PAP leaders are still spouting cheap shots and not accepting that Singaporeans, especially the young voters, want more checks and balances. 

Let me put it this way. The PAP was caught by surprise when Sengkang fell to the WP. And not only that, Sengkang voters made the right courageous move in 2020. He Ting Ru, Jamus Lim and Louis Chua are the type of young, articulate and hardworking MPs most Singaporeans would be proud of.

Lawrence Wong is spot on.  Do not assume that PAP politicians today are “better than all the rest”. Instead, maybe the best is yet to come from the Opposition.

Tan Bah Bah, consulting editor of TheIndependent.Sg, is a former senior leader writer with The Straits Times. He was also managing editor of a magazine publishing company. 

Send in your scoops to news@theindependent.sg 

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