The WP has taken the outright majority with more votes than PAP, RP and SDA combined. The PAP has suffered a crushing defeat in the polls even though it was a multi-corner fight.
But does this mean that the WP is truly the better party? Or is there something else at work here?
From this author’s perspective, the WP has taken the easy way out of promising one thing and doing another. It has successfully won the election by focusing on what the PAP has done wrong, rather than what the WP has done right. It has succesfully confused voters with honeyed words and hypocritical actions. This does not bode well for Singapore’s future.
An objective analysis of the WP’s post-GE 2011 actions shows that it has not met most of its election promises at all:
- It has promised a First World Parliament, but merely poses questions without seeking a fuller debate. According to former NMP Calvin Cheng, the WP filed precisely zero motions in 21 months.
- It had promised to fight for lower ministerial salaries, but its own “MX9” proposal would have resulted in million dollar salaries higher than what PAP had proposed.
- It had promised to fight for the Singaporean worker, but the WP’s reaction in Parliament to tightened foreign worker quotas was to complain about cost to businesses! LTK himself did not further pursue his idea of dependency ratios customised to each sector after being rebuffed once.
- It had promised to fight for a nationalised public transport system, yet we hear no word of this plan despite multiple MRT breakdowns.
WP loyalists and apologists will be quick to counter-argue that the WP cannot be expected to do much when Parliament is dominated by the PAP. Such a response merely demonstrates a lack of imagination. Parliament is not the only place where political fights happen. This is not the 1990s anymore. The WP has failed to engage the wider public in cyberspace. There are zero online petitions fronted by the WP, zero detailed policy proposals on its website and zero public engagement exercises on policy development. In fact, it is difficult to pin down exactly how the WP intends to implement what it stands for, if they are elected as the ruling government! The WP has remained silent on thorny issues like 377A
and the ISA. It has only focused on populist issues that allow it to score cheap political points.
There is an argument that the WP is focusing on running the town councils and thus is too “resource-constrained” to speak up at Parliament. Only a WP apologist will believe this claptrap. How difficult can it be to write a speech? There are so many WP supporters that there should be no problem tapping on the pool to come up with a speech. Or are WP MPs failing at multi-tasking? Can they only do one thing at a time?
The best thing that can be said about the WP is that its mere presence in Parliament puts the PAP on their toes. But is that a WP-only trait? Or is the presence of any opposition party enough? As voters, we should not merely be asking if the WP is putting pressure on the PAP. Instead, we should be asking if the WP could be doing better than its current standard. Or if any other party can do better than the WP at pressuring the PAP.
Although the WP has failed to perform in Parliament, they are clearly performing well in their rallies. WP rallies are the most well attended ones, and the fiery rhetoric is obviously great at stoking up emotions (which is why the PAP has implemented a cooling off day). What this effectively means is that the WP is a paper tiger. They are great at talking and stirring up emotions, but they slink away once the post-election dust settles to leave PAP to do the work, only rising occasionally to claim personal victory whenever the PAP changes something.
I truly do not see what is the unique trait of the WP that justifies its superiority over the other opposition parties. I had personally hoped that the SDP had contested this by-election and won. Although I believe that some of SDP’s ideas are flawed, I am comforted by how the SDP are prepared to stand by their beliefs with conviction and follow through with their actions (such as publishing their healthcare and housing plans). Although the SDP have previously resorted to illegal (but non-violent) actions to reinforce their message, this behavior is still a better alternative than being a party that promises one thing while doing another. It is too bad that the SDP is not politically astute enough to approach the Punggol BE without self-destructing. They have a long way to go at politics, but at least they are an honest party. Which is more than can be said about the leeches that are called “WP”.
The results of the Punggol BE were disappointing. It would have been better if the results were close enough such that both the PAP and WP feel the heat. Such an overwhelming victory for the WP would merely reinforce the point that it is easier to be a leecher instead of a fighter.