put it this way: Low Thia Khiang is the best man to head
the Workers' Party (WP) and those who don't think so should
do the Opposition a favour and just get out of the way.
cadre member who questioned the legitimacy of Low's election
should, well, be sacked. Unless, of course, he is right
about the non-constitutionality of the election.
from representing real alternative views, confrontations
have left the Opposition's credibility in tatters
and alienated the electorate
that point, the ever-cautious Low seems to be pretty clear
that he is in the right. And he is the right man for the
job in the Workers' Party - as well as the right man to
lend the Opposition a higher, more credible profile.
knows they need it. Riding on a high-horse liberal agenda
of human rights and free speech, shriller figures like J
B Jeyaretnam and Singapore Democratic Party leader Chee
Soon Juan have given the Opposition a fine rep for shooting
from the hip and landing into legal trouble.
from representing real alternative views in Parliament,
such confrontations have left the Opposition's credibility
in tatters and alienated the electorate.
contrast, Low's level-headed but decidedly less dramatic
style has shown results in the hard-nosed political arena,
earning him kudos even from the ruling People's Action Party's
track record, first-hand grasp of grassroots issues, and
squeaky clean slate represents a moderate Opposition voice
which will appeal to a much broader range of mainstream
even attracted the right noises from fellow Opposition players,
such as the National Solidarity Party's Steve Chia and veteran
MP Chiam See Tong, who believe Low's style is ''more constructive
and acceptable to voters''.
surprising that Low and the WP are being courted to join
Chiam's new group, the Singapore Democratic Alliance, since
their presence would lend genuine weight to any formal Opposition
the prudent Low is adopting a wait-and-see attitude.
all, past attempts to present a united Opposition front
have not met with much success.
loose grouping of smaller parties in the 1997 elections
was de-railed by tussles over which personality should play
the overall leader. And Chiam himself cites ''historical
problems and personalities'' which might yet hinder Opposition
and Chiam are cool-headed, sensible politicians. It's unlikely,
if WP were to join the coalition, that they would get sidetracked
by ego clashes over leadership.
are tactical and logistical advantages to an alliance, particularly
with good men like Chiam and Low at the fore, and more abrasive
elements out of the picture. Chiam's Alliance, as a formal
grouping, would give the coalition institutional weight
and help ensure accountability.
it's perfectly possible for the WP to go it alone - as they
have in previous elections - and for Low to develop a fresh
power base with his new-found clout as party leader.
optimism is the right way to go. The WP should only join
the SDA if there is sufficient consensus and common ground
among the parties for the long haul, not just as a marriage
is in the right place to give his party - and eventually
the Opposition - a strong leg up. With priorities set on
renewing the party's ranks, he's got the work cut out for
one thing to make it as a single-ward MP, quite another
to build a team that can command the support of voters disaffected
by the Opposition circus after so many years. Those who
want to see the Opposition grow up and stand a fighting
chance ought to give Low the time and space he needs.
Man of the Moment can do without nitpicking detractors who
aren't ready to slug it out with the big boys in the arena.
Low should stand his ground as party leader and show that
he can clean up the mess quickly and decisively.
it is, the Opposition looks to be in far better shape than
it has for a long time. They're in a position to make real
deals backed by mature frontmen with good track records.
real political issues - education, healthcare and housing
- have been separated from the fluff, the false starters
from the real leaders.
would be a criminal waste if they threw away such a promising
chance to present a credible Opposition by not delivering
the goods - or worse, through in-fighting.
the sake of our political scene, they'd better not screw
it up this time.