Suggestions for opposition movement 4

Before the elections, I told myself three things:

1. 2015 is not as bad as 2011, housing prices are under control, people have gotten used to the new normal
2. This could well be PM Lee’s last election as PM, he would want to go out with a bang
3. If the opposition pushes too hard, there could be backlash

Only the first of the three points is worrying because it shows that the opposition can only make inroads when there is a major PAP misstep. In the absence of missteps, there is actually no good reason for the middle ground to vote for the opposition.

Actually there is. Low Thia Khiang was correct to say that the opposition should be credited for the slew of policy changes that the government has made in recent years. National Conversation and Pioneer Package came out only after the opposition won a GRC in 2011. Not only should the people thank the opposition for championing their causes, they should also realise that it was the growing threat of the opposition that the PAP became more responsive. The opposition is the people’s only weapon to force the PAP to yield, they should therefore vote to increase their power of leverage. But this logic was sadly lost on the electorate.

Dr Chee Soon Juan was correct to say there is an urgent need for the opposition to find a compelling reason for the people to vote for the opposition, not just to vote against the PAP. To depend on people voting against PAP would be to depend on the next major misstep which is too few and far between.

Outstanding policy proposals do not present for compelling reasons to vote for the opposition. The masses cannot be bothered to read proposals or manifestos. They vote based on what they see and feel – tangibles like HDB flats, jobs and the general prosperity and peace around them. No matter how outstanding their candidates are, the opposition will never be seen as credible providers to Singaporeans. Singaporean minds, especially those of PAP supporters and the middle ground will forever remain locked against the opposition. The opposition can shout all they want but they can forget about public mass media being opened up to help change minds.

The opposition is in a lose lose situation. It will never be given the chance to govern and without the chance to govern, it can never establish its credentials for being able to run a country. Forget about the town council. Even if the opposition successfully runs a GRC town council, the electorate mindset will still be closed to them. Over the next few decades, the opposition can be expected to win titbit constituencies here and there and that’s all they can expect for all the herculean efforts they put in.

There is a need for the opposition to lift themselves out of this lose lose situation. Wherever they operate in Singapore, the opposition will be subjected to tremendous amounts of sabotage by the PAP. Instead of fighting the odds for expectedly low outcomes, the opposition should instead venture out of Singapore and make their mark outside Singapore.

As a start, the opposition can form partnerships with the private sector to start successful businesses outside Singapore. A good place to start is Taiwan. Taiwan is prosperous like Singapore, is reasonably safe and is known to support democracy and can be expected to lend the Singapore opposition a helping hand. An opposition led business group can set up a theme park 30 minutes train ride from the airport. The project will involve building a metro system linking the airport to the resort, construction of the resort along with shops, hotels and staff public housing. These will be wonderful starting points for the opposition to learn how to create a business, plan and realise housing and transport systems as well as run a mini city. The city can gradually be expanded as more businesses are added in to it with concomitant increase in population, housing and amenities. There can be no greater endorsement for the opposition than the success of an alternative Singapore built and run by them. The alternative city will provide many opportunities for Singaporean workers displaced in our own country. It will provide alternative living space for the close to 1 million opposition supporters who are disillusioned with their country but who has nowhere else to go. Many business leaders who up till now are pro-PAP may through close working relationships with the opposition come to appreciate their strengths and qualities. That, would be the best contribution the opposition can achieve – realising a truly democratic alternative Singapore that is equally prosperous.

Having made their marks, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to guess the kind of welcome opposition politicians will receive when they come back to Singapore to contest – no welcome. That should be the final confirmation the opposition needs – that PAP supporters and the middle ground will never give them the chance to run Singapore. But by then, the opposition would have had no regrets. For they would have created what they had envisioned all their lives except in another city. But the seeds of their good work will lay a strong foundation for their successors to eventually win in Singapore.


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