A free contest of ideas to presure opposition parties to improve
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Written by Ng E-Jay
08 January 2013
There must be a free contest of ideas in the political arena. Without a free contest of ideas, assumptions go unchallenged, bad policies continue unchecked, and good alternative ideas do not surface.
Through a free and unfettered contest of ideas and ideology, Singapore’s opposition parties can also challenge each other to up their games and take on the PAP more effectively and aggressively.
Although the Worker’s Party (WP) tore down the GRC fortress in the 2011 general elections and gained a footing in Parliament, its performance then has been lackluster.
Mr Pritam Singh has been criticized for not being clear about what he meant by a future coalition with the ruling PAP, WP MPs have been caught plagiarizing the work of others, and their Parliamentary debate on ministerial salaries has been roundly ribbed by both sides of the political aisle.
Clearly there is a need for WP to improve, even as it tries to expand into other constituencies and enlarge its Parliamentary force through electoral contests.
That is why it is so important for a free contest of ideas and political beliefs to take place and for all citizens to participate actively in shaping the national dialogue.
Without a free contest of ideas, Singaporeans may be led to think that there are only two parties, PAP and WP, and only two possible ideological platforms — right wing or centrist.
Without a free contest or ideas, good alternative solutions to national issues that neither the PAP or WP can devise would forever lie buried.
As an opposition supporter, I would not look to PM Lee’s initiative in starting a so-called “national conversation”, as it smacks of PR management, front-running, opinion rigging, and ultimately, propaganda, rather than a genuine attempt at dialogue.
Opposition parties must take matters into their own hands by aggressively contesting constituencies and using all available channels of communications, whether traditional or otherwise, to convey their message and their ideological platforms.
Is Alex Au doing the work of 6 WP MPs?
Recently, activist blogger Alex Au had to apologize to PM Lee for allegedly defaming the latter in his blog postings on the AIM saga.
But Alex Au has not given up on the issue. He has continue to comment on the AIM fiasco even after his apology. He has made it clear that his apology was only pertaining to certain remarks made about PM Lee, and that it should not detract from the AIM issue itself.
Alex Au has articulated the case very well, as have other bloggers. Has Alex Au and these other bloggers been doing the work of 6 WP MPs and not getting any remuneration in the process?
It is now up to WP to take the AIM saga up in Parliament and ask hard-hitting questions like those which Alex Au has asked. Protected by Parliamentary immunity, WP MPs have no reason to succumb to a climate of fear as long as what they say is justified and correct.
That WP aggressively take up the AIM saga is all the more important, because WP has always made town council management and grassroots work the hallmark of its electoral approach. The AIM saga sits squarely at the heart of WP’s electoral strategy of winning votes through groundwork and through the grassroots.
It is now up to WP to show it can deliver, and prove that it can stand up and stand tall amongst a free contest of ideas from other opposition parties.