Saturday, 5 September 2015

Singapore GE 2015: SPP-DPP An Uneasy Marriage of Inconvenience

An Uneasy Marriage of Inconvenience

A SPP-DPP alliance wants your vote in Bishan Toa Payoh. But a hyphen does not create a team.

singapore ge 2015 spp dpp coalition

DPP’a Benjamin Pwee had initially left the SPP amid disagreements over the appointment of Mrs Lina Chiam as Mr Chiam’s successor. This rift shows.

For instance, SPP and DPP members have been wearing their own party t-shirts while canvassing for votes in the GRC. Even though they are now running under the SPP banner, Mr Pwee and Mr Hamim are DPP t-shirts, even at the rally.

Furthermore, SPP and DPP personnel have been seen canvassing for votes separately. If the team cannot even work together to canvass for votes, how are they going to run a town council together?

Even the relatively larger Worker’s Party find it difficult to run a GRC town council well – what more a disparate team lacking in party cohesiveness an identity?

One hyphen does not make a team

The current team was a last minute artificial creation. A cobbled together SPP-DPP. But electoral rules do not allow for two different parties to contest as one team.

As a consequence, DPP members Benjamin Pwee and Hamim Aliyas had to resign from their party and re-join the SPP. They will resign from the SPP and re-join the DPP should they lose in the upcoming elections.

What does this say about political loyalties?

Mr Pwee and Mr Hamim could be purely opportunistic in their political membership. Votes at any cost – doesn’t matter my political affiliation. This means that they will shift and change with the political winds.

But even if they are truly committed to this current hyphenated creation, what can they really do? As part of the SPP’s recent rally at Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, opposition stalwart Mr Chiam See Tong appeared to deliver a short speech in support of the joint SPP-DPP team currently contesting the GRC.

The general thrust of the SPP’s message was that they are more in touch with the ground and less elitist than their PAP opponents. This is easy to say. But as I voter, I want to know – what can you do?

Team Mascot: Chiam See Tong

The team is limited by real issues of succession. Mrs Lina Chiam is a great wife but a poor leader. The SPP lacks competent and convincing leadership.

As a consequence, they continued to rely on an increasingly frail Mr Chiam. Mr Chiam is neither fit nor willing to run for an election – but the party continues to wheel him out at every possible opportunity.

Even on nomination day, Mrs Chiam needed the assistance of SPP’s Assistant Sec-Gen Loke Hoe Yeong, (Mr Chiam See Tong’s biographer), in reciting her speech. He probably wrote her speech as well. 

The visibly frail Mr Chiam was also made to stand at both nomination day and their recent rally. He is the only recognizable feature of the party.

Can voters trust a party that continues to make use of its founder as a mascot?  What will happen when Mr Chiam is no longer able to play even this diminishing role? Neither Mrs Chiam nor Mr Pwee are capable of exercising political leadership. Ironically, the SPP, in its manifesto, pushes for a “worry-free retirement” Mr Chiam See Tong appears denied of such a retirement, at least politically. 

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