I refer to the report, “Adversarial two-party system not for S’pore” (TODAY, November 17). Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong felt that the two party system cannot work for Singapore and that we are much better off with one dominant party.
Mr Lee’s familiar argument is that because we are small and lack talent, if we split our talent into two groups, we will end up with “two second division teams”. This is akin to saying that it is better to put all our eggs in one basket, than to have two baskets with fewer eggs each.
While few would argue that the PAP has performed commendably over the past 40 years, past performance is no guarantee of future success, as investment advisors always caution.
Mr Lee said that if ever the PAP becomes ineffective or corrupt, many opposition parties will spring up to take on the Government.
Therein lies the danger: If the PAP ever becomes corrupt, there will be absolutely no time for a viable alternative party to suddenly “spring up”, since political organisations take years to build up credibility. Furthermore, a corrupt government with firm controls on the levers of power will tend to use that power to entrench itself, stifling any potential opposition from arising. This is because their corrupt leaders will know full well that they will face prosecution if anyone else takes over the government.
Singapore may then be left in a disastrous situation of having a bad government with no capable alternatives.
For a small city-state like Singapore with little margin for error in governance, this could spell an unrecoverable decline leading to our very obsolescence as a nation.
It is therefore in the national interest for a well-organised, competent and morally upright alternative party to emerge, so that should the PAP falter, there will another party to take over the reins of government at the next elections and ensure that our country continues to prosper with interruption.
Obviously I do not expect support for an effective alternative party to come from the PAP, since it goes against its partisan interests.
However, I hope more Singaporeans will realise that greater political competition can produce not just better governance now, but improved stability for our future as well.
This was published on 19 Nov 08 in TODAY.