Time was, Mr Chiam See Tong claimed and/or was credited with master-minding the by-election effect.
Which is to have the People’s Action Party returned to power on Nomination Day, allowing the electorate free to be adventurous with their votes as they can both have their cake and eat it: the PAP to run the country well and Opposition voices in Parliament to provide the traditional checks and balances.
I’m not sure if this strategy wasn’t born out of necessity with the Opposition turning a weakness into a strength. After all, the Opposition, unlike the PAP, haven’t been able to date to find the necessary candidates, backers or funds to contest all the seats in Parliament!
Then somewhere along the line, the Opposition’s slogan at elections became “deny the PAP 2/3 majority” which apparently would prevent the ruling party from changing the Constitution at will.
As Auntie is no constitution expert unlike Dr Kevin Tan, I can’t say for sure whether denying the PAP 2/3 majority would work.
In any case, in all the years since that tagline, I don’t think the Opposition could muster anything even close to 10 per cent of the seats in Parliament, excluding Nominated and Non-Constituency Members of Parliament!
With all of us breathless about the upcoming General Election and PAP’s youngest woman candidate designate, Tin Pei Ling, and the Opposition parties looking likely to disadvantage themselves further by creating three and even four-corner fights, I suddenly feel the urge to share with the underprivileged politicians a new strategy.
This has to do with the group representation constituency (GRC) which has remained a sore point with the Opposition — mainly because it’s quite a hurdle to get four, five or six candidates together to stand, not forgetting the huge amount of deposits put at risk.
And Ms Tin — who is expected to be fielded in a GRC — naturally became the lightning rod for their GRC grouses, as complaints — mostly online — about her age, her alleged immaturity, even her taste in handbags finally coalesced around the fact that she will definitely get into Parliament via a GRC, whereas strong opp candidates like Ms Sylvia Lim and perhaps even Messrs Chiam See Tong and Low Thia Khiang might (gasp!) not!
There’s even an online petition for the PAP to field Ms Tin in a Single Member Constituency.
Dream on I say!
Instead, the Opposition should use their sore point to their advantage. This they can do by making the GE 2011 as a referendum on GRCs. Use this as their rallying cry!
If voters respond by thrashing the PAP at the GRCs come polling day, then the Opposition will have gotten their point across. Which is: Singaporeans don’t like unqualified candidates sneaking into Parliament by the coat-tails of seasoned seniors.
Why, if the referendum on the GRCs is a resounding “no”, then we might even have the often warned about “freak results”.
But then, such a scenario predicates on the Opposition getting enough people and funding to contest the 14 GRCs and 12 SMCs!
And if the Opposition does become the Government, GRCs would be disbanded hot-foot?
For both scenarios, dream on!
I’m sure if the Opposition ever comes into power it will have enough nous to recognise that the GRC scheme is too valuable to dismantle when you are on the inside!