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Sunday February 12, 2006
IF LEE Kuan Yew were an opposition leader today, how would he take on the People's Action Party (PAP)?
This intriguing question was the subject of his speech on Friday night at a dinner for Tanjong Pagar residents and community leaders.
His approach? First, he would contest in a single ward, as he did in 1955 in Tanjong Pagar.
Then he would establish himself as a credible alternative leader something that the Minister Mentor did from 1955 to 1959 by debating in the Legislative Assembly and by working for the trade unions and grassroots organisations.
His next step, after proving himself, would be to persuade four or five good people to contest a GRC in a team as good as the PAP's.
After winning three GRCs, I will get more people to join me and offer Singapore a credible alternative government.'
In fact, he threw a suggestion to opposition MPs Low Thia Khiang in Hougang and Chiam See Tong in Potong Pasir: They could contest in GRCs if they could now find four or five candidates to form a good team.
Chiam, who once led the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), seemed to be on this track when his party won three seats in 1991.
His SDP colleagues Ling How Doong and Cheo Chai Chen captured Bukit Gombak and Nee Soon Central respectively.
But both did not impress their voters and were voted out at the next election.
Lee's conclusion: Chiam did not present the voters with a credible alternative and hence did not grow his party.
His underlying point: there is no easy way to win, or stay in power.
It applied to the PAP as well. If it did not renew itself regularly, stay honest and clean and take measures to provide a better life for people, it could lose seats and eventually be ousted.
Lee stressed the point that it took good men, ideas and policies to make a difference.
He used the occasion to show the contrasting approaches that the PAP and an opposition, which aspires to govern, adopt towards running a country.
The PAP has been able to anticipate problems and take measures to see Singapore through. This is different from an opposition which wants to change basic planks that have worked well here.
He warned of the unhappy consequences of such moves.
He also gave a positive assessment of the economic environment, and was upbeat about prospects this year.
We are well placed for future growth, he said. The Straits Times/Asia News network
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