Punggol BE: Has WP done better? Or have they merely taken the easy way out?

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.


About sgthinker

I'm a 40-year old Singaporean male, and this blog pens down my thoughts and feelings about Singapore's political happenings, government policies and society trends. I hope this blog will provide a moderate voice in the growing online debate about the state of Singapore's society. Some of the posts here won't be solely written by me, since there will be times when other writers are more eloquent at expressing their views, in which case I'll share their insights (along with my comments). The content on this blog is owned by me.If you wish to share or reproduce the content, please attribute it to this blog.
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23 Responses to Punggol BE: Has WP done better? Or have they merely taken the easy way out?

  1. Anonymous says:

    Err, WP MPs just know if they tried to take on their adversaries in the setting of the Parliament, they would be the ones dealt with a crushing blow. WP MPs display completely laughable intellectual quickness and aptitude in Parliament. I have family members who witnessed it personally (no they are not politicians).

    WP’s most intelligent offering by far is undoubtedly Chen Show Mao, and Chen had to resort to plagiarizing a former PSC-OMS-scholar-turned-academic, just one of many who went that route. Chen was caught pants down like a 19 year old sorority bimbo in college. How disgraceful.

  2. Pingback: Punggol East By-Election Result | The Singapore Daily

  3. leewsdaniel says:

    In the end, it is WP giving what the masses desire; stability, alternative talents, serving as a check against the government. WP has asked more questions than the other 80 PAP MPs combined, so that counts for a growing confidence even if mistakes were made along the way.

    It is only intellectuals like us who have the time to slice and dice election results. The layperson just wants life to be better. WP has shed some light on the government with their questioning, so now even the layperson knows that something is not right.

  4. i agree with some of the analysis by politicalwritings. WP doesn’t do things to play to the gallery. They have their own style of getting things done which resonates with their supporters.

    • looes74 says:

      Not playing to the gallery…..Hello! How did WP win Punggol East? Where is my spittoon? I disagree with the writer….I felt that Kenneth should be the MP instead

  5. Alan says:

    Sgthinker, In one of your previous post, you commented yourself “As to whether I am a “papaya cock sucker”, I will let my posting history speak for itself.”

    You “may” not be a papaya cock sucker but your posting history definitely gives the lie away as it shows that you are basically a WP fault finder, finding fault with everything that WP did or even didn’t do. According to your posting history, there seems to be nothing good that WP can ever do.

  6. Vas says:

    Singaporeans still broadly trust the PAP’s brains but increasingly feel it needs to be checked so that it does not abuse the system and places more emphasis on “heart” issues – idealism over pure pragmatism and utilitarianism.

    The WP offers this basic check, together with a focus on local heartland issues (actions vs. words). It is also politically shrewd in catering to the Chinese majority. That is why it is the leading opposition party.

    The SDP and RP are all kentang talk and no trousers. Wake up and smell the coffee. If you want to win elections: Less talk at Yale and more talk in Chinese on the ground and at your rallies.

    • looes74 says:

      So you mean by 2016, there won’t be any freak result happening….If it does happen, then what….Rely on the civil servants….while playing to the gallery

  7. contrarian says:

    The unique trait of the WP is that it listens to the electorate that is necessary to get it elected, and gives them the messaging that they want. Thus winning the hearts and minds of the greatest segment of the electorate.
    And this message is not the same one that appeals to the segment who want the type of message in your post above.
    A longer article is found here:

    • sgthinker says:

      Indeed the WP has given the electorate a winning message. But if you look more closely at the message, you would hardly see the WP espousing any detailed solution. Instead, it is the message of the “complain king” – one who bashes the PAP for poor work, but stays conspicuously silent on the detailed solutions that te WP will do to make things better.

      • Wp cannot do things because it is in opposition. Simple principle of democracy. It’s the govt that does things.

      • looes74 says:

        Even the americans can see through the Romney’s tricks & has chosen Obama….when would singaporeans gonna grow up?

        WP has demonstrated what it means by being a co-driver by slapping the one who does the job& if possible, get the credit when it succeeds

    • sgthinker says:

      Sorry that’s an apologist mindset. WP may not be the ruling govt but it can still do things like stating its alternative policies. The fact that SDP can publish so much without a single MP in Parliament shows that when there is a will, there is a way. Right now, WP is this enigma that claims they are not ideologically close to the PAP but fails to spell any policy ideas that can substantiate their claims.

      • looes74 says:

        Ask this joker to look beyond singapore borders….Google Seenivasagam…..See how opposition then run an impeccable town council, brought the then first prime minister of malaya/malaysia to his knees…..Even Lee Kuan Yew was at awe with such men…..It makes JBJ looks like an infantile…….The only LKY complained is that this party which is now becoming more or less defunct only has their clout in the state of perak. To which seenivasagam retorted, LKY & PAP only good in singapore. As demonstrated by PAP disastrous campaign in 1964 Malaysian GE. Yes…..What’s Punggol East BE as compared to 15 candidates losing deposits even though LKY attracted huge public rally that make LTK looks like an infantile in KL long long time ago

        Anyway, I prefer Kenneth Jeyaratnam rather than any SDP members. He is an economist, highly qualified, determined to get his points across…..Li Ao says correctly singaporeans are really dumb, dumber &……

        Guys & Gals,
        Read this!


  8. The says:

    What’s the point of this article?

  9. WP knows what people want. It also knows how not to file motions it can’t possibly win. Because at the end of the day, 80 against 8 MPs, especially when not all of them are eloquent or articulate, is not a prescription for a successful TV debate.

    • sgthinker says:

      8 vs 80 are terrible odds, but that certainly hasn’t stopped the opposition from contesting in elections. So why is that a reason to shy away from debates? It is conviction and intellect. Not numbers, that matter in a debate.

      I suspect that parties with more backbone ( like SDP and RP) will challenge the PAP in Parliament, numbers be damned.

      • WP not so dumb. Speaking at rallies using prepared scripts in front of a friendly crowd is far different from debating with Senior Counsel.

        Sylvia did that with the Woffles Wu case and look what happened. And she’s the sharpest of the lot!

        People like Faisal, Li Lian, Png, JJ, etc are useless in such debates. In fact, worse than that– they could say the wrong thing and end up scoring own goals.

        The WP that takes on the PAP died with JBJ, who once caused a TV debate with his allegation of executive interference on the judiciary. We know what happened what happened to JBJ after that, and what happened to WP after that.

        Low is a completely different leader. He has no such inclinations. He has been re-elcted six times precisely because he is no here to challenge the PAP directly.

        Certainly cowboys like SDP and RP may engage the PAP in open combat. They should make it to Parliament first. But if Low is right, the electorate does not want fireworks per se. The pettiness of the Lee vs JBJ era was interesting, but at the end of the day, voters always ask, how did my MP make things better for me? Low has been able to triumph in six elections because he always gave a positive answer to the question.

      • sgthinker says:

        I agree with your views on why the WP is unlikely to perform in a debate. But to me, that is disappointing behavior. It reflects a party that prefers to do what looks good rather than what is right.

        I would like you to elaborate on your last paragraph. What is the answer that LTK has provided to voters? And why is it positive?

      • Positive means that every time the electorate asks, did wp make my life in Hougang better, the answer is yes.

      • By the way, I think you’re mistaken, they don’t do things to look good, wp doesn’t play to the gallery. In fact, I think you mean they avoid trying to look bad on national tv.

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