One netizen is sending a reminder to Singaporeans about one fact concerning the country’s founding father that may have been forgotten.
He was once a member of the opposition.
On Monday, February 25, netizen Suling Tan posted a meme, with a photo of a very young Lee Kuan Yew.
It reads: “Lee Kuan Yew was once an opposition.
So if Singapore needs another Lee Kuan Yew,
We have to be prepared to vote for opposition again.”
Yes, we can hear the sharp intake of breath from all across the land.
Let’s take a short trip down memory lane, and look at what history has to say about LKY being in the opposition once upon a time.
History tells us that Lee Kuan Yew wasn’t just a member of the opposition, but in fact, for a period of time, he was its leader.
In Singapore, the Leader of the Opposition is the head of the second biggest political party that has Members of Parliament serving as legislators at a given time.
For example, at the moment, the People’s Action Party (PAP) is the biggest political party represented in the country’s 13th Parliament. This makes Pritam Singh, the leader of the Workers’ Party (WP), the current Leader of the Opposition since the WP is the second largest political party represented in Parliament at present.
During LKY’s time, during the First Legislative Assembly from 1955 to 1959, he was the Leader of the Opposition. The ruling party at that time was the Labour Front, which was founded before the 1955 legislative council elections by David Saul Marshall, Singapore’s first chief minister.
According to a February 2018 story in mothership.sg, this is how LKY became Singapore’s first Leader of the Opposition.
“In April 1955, a general election was held to elect 25 out of 32 seats in the 1st Legislative Assembly of Singapore.
Lawyer David Marshall’s Labour Front won 10 out of the 17 seats it contested, while LKY’s PAP won 3 out of 4 seats it contested.
With the inclusion of independent MP Ahmad Ibrahim, PAP was the largest opposition party with 4 seats out of 32 seats (4/32 = 12.5%)
In his memoirs The Singapore Story, Lee said that he sat opposite then Chief Minister Marshall, ‘Although the PAP had only three members in the Assembly plus Ahmad Ibrahim, the Speaker, Sir George Oehlers, placed me where the leader of the opposition would normally be seated, facing the chief minister’.”
The rest, as they say, is history. By the GE of 1959, PAP won 43 of 51 seats in Parliament. It ran an anti-colonialist campaign which outlined many reforms for improving the standard of living as well as the economy, and to uproot corruption in the government. On June 3 of that year, LKY became the first Prime Minister of Singapore.
All in all, he led PAP to eight consecutive victories. He served in ministerial positions for 56 years in all and served the Tanjong Pagar constituency for almost 60 years.
However, as Suling Tan points out, he did start out in his political career with PAP not just as a member of the opposition, but as its de facto leader.
Ms Tan’s meme has been making the rounds on social media and has gotten nearly 300 shares in the 14 hours since she posted it. It seems to have struck a chord with a number of netizens, who seem to desire for a new party to govern the country.
Some netizens also seem to show great respect for Singapore’s founding father, but not for the current leaders of the party that he founded.
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