On opposition politicians

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:


Author: Gerald Giam

Gerald Giam is the Member of Parliament for Aljunied GRC. He is a member of the Workers' Party of Singapore. The opinions expressed on this page are his alone.

3 thoughts on “On opposition politicians”

  1. Hi Gerald,

    I am so happy for you ST sought your opinion on opposition politicians.

    When I was young, I used to scoff whenever Chiam See Tong spoke. As I grew older, I realize that he has done something special. I just hope the national archives will give him his rightful place in history.

    BTW, in case you have not heard, Tim Russert of NBC has passed away. A huge loss for American politics and journalism.

    An Old Friend

  2. So long as the Opposition Politicians confine their political activities(struggles) within their parties and parties members only, they will never be viable oppositions.

    These loner politicians who hog all the limelights to themselves are not doing the people any service no matter how much personal sacrifices they made. There are sympathizers and there are instigators and it is difficult to draw the line between them. Worse, there are hero worshippers who worship the heroes but fail to see the Heroes are loners.

    Unless and until the Opposition Leaders are able to garner the collective supports of the people. And to show the people that their adjutants are groomed and exposed to connect with the people and given their rights of exposures, the Opposition Leaders will be, liked what You have described, individually and personally respected (independently) but seperated from their parties and party ideologies.

    From the Article itself, it is evident that the Leaders are mentioned but not their Parties nor their Manifestoes.

    This country have had political opposition parties for over four decades, but what we have seen is that the Opposition Party Leaders have never failed to outshine their parties. I cannot help but feel that politic is a medium for some to make themselves wellknown and not for a genuine concern of fellow countrymen.


  3. patriot – your point is good. Any leader who fails to raise a good successor, or fails to assemble a good team is no leader. He is just taking a walk.

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