A friendly quip from a former member of the now defunct Justice Party (JP) who contested the general elections in 1976 places into perspective the gospel truth of what some cynics would grudgingly concur.
There is as this very crucial time in Singapore’s history no political alternative to the ruling Peoples’ Action Party (PAP). Though things may be different in the next 30 or 40 years, but as it stands now the PAP watches over Singapore stolid, and strong like how an oak tree would. Though some parties did try to challenge the PAP in the 1970s most of these were dismissed off as cranks as demonstrably was the case with the United Peoples’ Front (UPF) and the United Front.
The UPF was then headed by Mr Harbans Singh, a maverick lawyer known for his outrageous claims of wanting to reduce bus fares to a minimum of 5 cents, abolishing national service and giving all kinds of free public services, as among other things. The United Front was headed a by a rabid chauvinist who was unquestionably detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) for inflammatory speeches.
Still the party that made Singapore into what it is today is not any electoral spoiler. It arose out of the very tenuous times in the 1950s and when it won its first Legislative Assembly seat in November 1954, it did what politicians in other nations rarely commit to: deliver on the promises made. Even today as was told to The Independent by a PAP spokesperson “the [PAP] government has many programmes in place to help the disadvantaged in Singapore”.
As for the initiatives, and in particular for the disadvantaged, in the upcoming Budget, we are afraid we are not privy to it. We will have to wait till the Budget speech.
It was that glaring instance of honesty that endeared the party to the masses and endeared it did. Election after election they began voting the PAP in and that is nothing but a salutary tribute to the party.
If there is an equivalent to the PAP it must be the Japanese Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) which like the PAP delivers on its promises instead of adopting myopic short-term gains or dabbling in the politics of populism. Or even of engaging in the politics of expediency as how some politicians are wont to do in some countries.
Since 1959 when the PAP first came into power its ascendancy within and without Singapore has been nothing short of spectacular. Its motto of clean and honest politics embodied in its founding charter and also in its sartorial statements makes the political party worthy of the greats in the world alongside the Conservatives in the U.K or the party of Abraham Lincoln in the United States which in any instance, is the Grand Old Party (GOP).
The (JP) could not have said it better than what he said in the 1970s, that the PAP is the only political party that matters.