Sunday, April 16, 2006

Opposition, Are You Up To It?

With the release of the PAP manifesto, it is indeed 'all systems go' for the various parties to stake their claim for seats in our coveted parliament house. Indeed only one man holds the key to when the election date will be and when he announces a manifesto and slogan, it means that the date is just round the corner. Our PM, the man with the key, wants the opposition to show themselves and introduce their candidates so that the public can scrutinize them and evaluate the alternatives. He commented that the opposition members were shy and after calling them '10000 times will they come out and yet still have half of their face covered'. Is this really a snide remark by the PM or is there some truth in it? Are the opposition indeed fearful of public scrutiny or have they another strategy in mind?

The Worker's Party has shown that they are up for the challenge by issuing their manifesto way before that of the PAP's. With in depth policies and visions for a better Singapore, it could give a fight for PAP's 7 page long agenda. Whether there is substance remains to be seen as surely the WP needs to elaborate on their policies further and reach out their visions to the masses. Yet by releasing the manifesto so early, it signals that the party means business and they are not afraid of public scrutiny. They have rode through the storm of PAP criticism and the urge to change the manifesto under pressure. They have stuck by their ideals and shall contest with it.

On the other hand, the PAP while urging the opposition to show themselves, fired negative comments thick and fast when the opposition showed just a mere glance of their face to them. How is this a motivation for the opposition to come clean so quickly and be smeared a bad name? Or are the PAP being too harsh in crushing dissent? The niggling sense of contradiction cannot be avoided in this case.

However, truth to be told, there are indeed some dubious characters in the opposition territory. Rumours that the SDP are split with Dr Chee on one side and Mr Ling How Doong on the other are telling the public that all is not well in the opposition ranks although they have claimed unity. A recent outburst, by a engineering graduate who drives a cab, at Mr Chiam See Tong is also not helping the cause as it shows fractions that may be a setback to their common cause of providing an alternative to the PAP.

By allowing these rumours to proliferate without coming forth to clear up the issue could be an achilles heel for the opposition as the public will believe in these half truths and give them a vote of no confidence again. And that would be literally be agreeing with the PM that they have something to hide and are fearful of coming forward to introduce themselves.

So the opposition should seek a balance of coming forth to quash rumours and election strategy. They must not be convinced that by showing themselves only on Nomination Day would win them votes because that is unlikely to happen. They could be suspicious of the media in smearing them a bad name but by hiding away from the media, it would only make the opposition seem suspicious and dubious.

There needs to be some form of transparency here and accountability. Whether election strategy or not, the balance must be there. In order to win the hearts of the electorade, the mind must be convinced first.

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