The Straits Times asked for my views of four Singapore opposition politicians. The article appeared in today’s Insight (login required).
This was my full response to ST:
Low Thia Khiang – Sustainable development
Low seems to be approaching opposition politics with the aim of “sustainable development”. Together with Sylvia Lim, he appears to be very slowly but steadily building up a political party that is respected by Singaporeans, avoiding anything (read: lawsuits) that could derail the party. This has made the WP the opposition party with the most broad-based support in Singapore.
Unfortunately the “softly, softly” approach is seen by many as weak and ineffective. He seems to be more content being a “check” (holding the government to account) than a “balance” (coming up with sound alternative policies and visions) to the ruling party.
All this could change if he and Ms Lim commit themselves to recruiting more leaders into their fold. Already, they have managed to assemble a small but solid team around them. But time is not on their side and the expectations of Singaporeans of them are higher than they seem to realise.
Chiam See Tong – Mr Nice Guy
Chiam’s sincerity is his greatest strength. He is probably the most respected of all opposition politicians in Singapore. His residents see that he genuinely cares for their welfare. However, he has in the past surrounded himself with the wrong people who ended up playing him out. With his poor health hindering his effectiveness, it would be sad to see his party take a bow together with him. Unfortunately this is where his party seems to be headed.
J.B. Jeyaretnam – Unappreciated
JBJ is a man who was ahead of his time. Being the first opposition MP since independence, he raised many pertinent issues in Parliament and kept the Government on their toes. Unfortunately, the press failed to report what he said, and he was often painted as harsh critic of the Government and little else. Had he been in Parliament today, he would surely have been much better appreciated, if not by the mainstream media, then by bloggers.
Chee Soon Juan – Rebel who’s lost his cause
Chee is a politician who would be more effective as a political activist. Feel free to quote from my two recent blog posts on Chee: