Singapore — The Workers’ Party’s (WP) Dennis Tan hopes that the People’s Action Party (PAP) “can start to accept that” the results of the 2020 General Election showed that voters “embraced the need for a diversity of viewpoints”.
Mr Tan is quoted in a VOA News article, entitled “New Parliament Tests Singapore’s Appetite for Opposition Politics”, which shows how the opposition parties have gained a stronger foothold in Singapore’s Parliament, as evidenced by them having gained more seats and having a Leader of the Opposition, WP chief Pritam Singh, for the first time.
Mr Tan, MP for Hougang SMC and the WP’s Organising Secretary, spoke on Aug 31 during the debate on the President’s Address and highlighted the need for mutual respect between members of the PAP and other parties.
He noted that the recent GE was one of many “firsts”, including the participation of “a much more vocal electorate willing and able to make their voices heard online and not letting the ruling party to impose its narrative on certain election issues”.
He added: “It was notable that many voters rejected gutter politics and embraced the need for a diversity of viewpoints.”
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, too, seemed to recognise what voters wanted. He said at the post-election press conference: “The results show a clear desire for a diversity of voices in parliament.”
Later, in a letter to PAP MPs, he said: “With more opposition MPs in the new Parliament and a Leader of the Opposition formally designated, we must expect sharper questioning and debate in Parliament.”
In Parliament on Wednesday (Sept 3), however, the Prime Minister warned about those who vote for the opposition while expecting the PAP to stay in power. He said: “But if you say, vote for me, somebody else will vote for the PAP, and therefore the PAP will be the Government, that, the economists will call a free rider. It means that you’re taking advantage of somebody else who’s doing their duty of electing a government for the nation.”
The VOA News article quoted Associate Professor Kenneth Paul Tan of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy as affirming the recent election results as a sign that the public wants to see more debates.
He said: “I do think that they signal interests and concerns that many voters consider to be insufficiently audible in policymaking debates.
“Also, the results signal broad dissatisfaction with the structural advantages and unfair tactics that the ruling party uses to secure its electoral dominance.” /TISG
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