Don’t complain – find the candidates

Dear editor,

I refer to Mr Anthony Oei’s letter dated 25 Mar 2010.

Mr Oei asserts that the GRC poses no extra burden on the opposition in terms of candidates and resources since the total number of parliamentary seats remains the same whether they are contested individually or as GRCs. However, the GRC does pose a much steeper hurdle to the opposition which even MM Lee himself has admitted to. It is simply much more difficult to win a GRC than it is to win a single constituency. The GRC therefore represents a barrier to entry that entrenches the incumbent while preventing smaller parties from winning seats and gaining strength. Seen from this perspective, the GRC does pose a burden to the strengthening of the opposition to a level where they can field good candidates in all wards.

Secondly, Mr Oei asserts that no matter what, at the end of the day, the choice still rests with the people and if the people are really so fed up with the PAP they can always vote it out. That is true provided the people aren’t so ignorant and have easy access to unbiased analyses and opinions of PAP policies. However, all paid newspapers in Singapore are owned by just one company the shares of which are largely owned by GLCs and whose past chairmen have always been important ex-ministers. So while the choice still rests with the people, the freedom of views and opinions upon which those choices are made is not.

Contrary to what Mr Oei said, the election of 1959 wasn’t rough but easy for the PAP because it had the support of the Chinese speaking masses through Lim Chin Siong and Fong Swee Suan who in turn became the martyrs for PAP’s victory. Mr Oei should be careful not to label PAP opponents as communists because it is a charge that has never been unequivocally proven even till this day.

While the verdict of the people may have been terrifying then, one needs to understand that the verdict was for Lim Chin Siong, not Lee Kuan Yew.

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