"When will opposition politicians/parties be given one full hour of mass media exposure in the run up to the 10th general elections?"
Wednesday • April 12, 2006
Lee Ching Wern
A SINGAPORE completely devoid of opposition — is this really what Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew (picture) wants?
Why did the People's Action Party (PAP) have to sue political opponents like J B Jeyaratnam to the point of bankruptcy? Is Mr Lee pulling the strings in the Government led by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong?
As Singapore gears up for its 10th General Election since independence, the Minister Mentor answers these candid questions in a television forum Why My Vote Matters — A Dialogue with the Minister Mentor.
The forum, which will telecast on Channel NewsAsia at 8pm tonight, sees Mr Lee sitting down with a group of young Singaporeans — all under 30 years of age — and addressing their questions on Singapore politics and the election. The group, which included seven journalists, two students and a professional, questioned Mr Lee on whether the political playing field in Singapore was level. One even asked whether the PAP was "power crazy". Mr Lee was asked if a complete elimination of the Opposition would be good for Singapore.
Mr Lee said if he were an Opposition leader — like Mr Chiam See Tong or Mr Low Thia Kiang — he would first seek to win a single seat. He would then eye a Group Representative Constituency (GRC).
"I will find four or five equally capable people, and I will choose a GRC and say, look, you compare them, you compare us," he told the panellists.
"And with the ground in Singapore as it is, wanting an opposition ... all of you want an opposition right? You are young, you want to vote, and you want to see a fight in Parliament. You want to see the heat and dust of clash in the arena. If they are any good you will vote for them," he said.
The path he sketched out roughly mirrored his own journey. From winning a single seat in the 1955 election, Mr Lee expanded his base and built up his following went on to become the country's Prime Minister.
Challenging the two Opposition Members of Parliament to do what he did, he said: "I suggested to Low Thia Kiang and Chiam in a straightforward way … Chiam has been there 20 years, Low Thia Kiang has been there 15 years. He has had all the exposure in Parliament ... (so) take on a GRC. But watch whether he will do it or not."
The hour-long programme will be shown tonight at 8pm and 11.30pm on Channel NewsAsia.