Thursday, August 27, 2015

Answers given to an international media

Dear Mr Tan, how are you?  Most grateful if you have some time to reply to a few questions given its election season.

1. What do you make of the state of affairs the opposition is in? And what's the impact to the ruling party? Can the opposition mount a convincing challenge? 

TKL: Several of the alternative parties (i.e. other than People's Action Party) are well organized. The Workers' Party is clearly a stronger party. The Singapore Democratic Party has also organized their strategy well and have issued several well written and convincing policy papers during the past two years. The new parties, such as the Reform Party and the Singapore First party look promising.

2. The opposition seems fragmented and the ambition appears not to run the country but to provide an alternative voice in parliament. Why is this so and does the current system of ncmp and nmp work? Is this real democracy?

TKL: It is a good strategy for the alternative parties to aim to provide an alternative voice in Parliament. We need policy issues to be actively debated in Parliament and for diverse points of views to be considered before the laws are passed. We also need the laws to be well thought through and clearly written.

The system of NCMP and NMP is not effective to provide the healthy debate. It is better to have law makers from several political parties that speak with the mandate of the people. I also hope that the ruling party will allow their MPs to speak freely from their own conscience and reflect the majority views of their constituents.

3. With Lee Kuan Yew no longer around, do you think more may be compelled to join the opposition or vote them in and why?

TKL: As Mr. Lee Kuan Yew is no longer around, there will be a small swing towards to alternative parties, but the impact will not be significant. Mr. Lee's influence had diminished somewhat over the years, as he had stepped down from active leadership for more than 20 years.

4. Is this election an opportunity for PM Lee to put in place the next generation of leaders? How crucial is it for the party's succession planning?

TKL: The system of self renewal adopted by the Peoples Action Party is not effective. If we are as the United Kingdom, there will be sufficient numbers of law makers to pick from, to form the next generation of leadership. I prefer the system in the United States where the President can pick his ministers from anywhere in the country, subject to endorsement of the Congress. This will provide a better choice.

5. Significance of this election as the first since the death of LKY? Will the Pap lose more seats or will it win more?

TKL: At the Punggol East by-election, there was a swing of 10% away from the PAP. At this general election, I expect the swing to be smaller, but there will still be a significant swing. The issues affecting the people, such as the high cost of living, the uncertainty over jobs, the over crowding of public transport and other public services, and the stressful life have not gone away.

I expect that the PAP will lose more seats in this general election, but they will be returned to power with a comfortable majority. My guess is that the alternative parties will win 15 to 20 seats.

6. What kind of role does social media play in the current election? In 2011, social media helped fanned tension and raised hot button issues such as immigration and transport congestion. Does legal action against bloggers Amos Yee and Roy Ngerng help the PAP's cause or not?

TKL: The social media continues to play an important role in providing alternative views and sources of information to the general public. However, some of the messages in the social media are extreme, so the public will have to be discerning about interpreting these views. Most of them are mature and know what information are reliable, and what are not.

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