WP Chief Pritam Singh Asked On “Opposition Wipeout” Warning, Points Out Similar Statements Made By PAP

While most people will think the Workers’ Party has done well in the 2020 General Election (GE) by capturing 10 seats and a 2nd Group Representation Constituency (GRC), there was a fear the the opposition would be wiped out in GE2020.

WP chief Pritam Singh warned of this possibility in 2019, when the party held 6 seats, including winning Aljunied GRC by the skin of their teeth during GE2015.

The “opposition wipeout” warning seems to have resonated with voters, especially those in Aljunied, where the WP won by a much larger margin this time round.

However, Mr Pritam has replied to questions over “fearmongering” in his “wipeout” claim, pointing out that politicians from the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) have also made similar statements in the past.

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Warning on opposition wipeout made more than once

During a press conference on Sunday (12 Jun) afternoon, Mr Pritam was asked about his warning in 2019, as well as during the WP manifesto launch in June, that the opposition would be wiped out

On 28 Jun, Mr Pritam said there was a real risk that elected opposition MPs will be wiped out in GE2020, hence the party’s slogan of “Make Your Vote Count”.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, in response, said that this was a tactic, and an unrealistic outcome.

Given the good results and improved vote share that the WP eventually got, some may be tempted to say the tactic worked.

Perhaps that’s why the reporter asked Mr Pritam at the press conference whether he might have been fearmongering when warning about an opposition wipeout.

Aljunied saw razor-thin winning margin in GE2015

In response, Mr Pritam highlighted the WP’s razor-thin winning margin in Aljunied GRC during GE2015, where it won with 50.96% of the vote.

He also pointed to statements by the PAP on how the PAP might not be elected to form the next government.

PAP has also warned that it might not form govt

For example, the PAP’s Tanjong Pagar GRC candidate Chan Chun Sing said during a dialogue hosted by Lianhe Zaobao that the opposition “might eventually replace the Government after 10 Jul”, reported Channel NewsAsia (CNA).

He added that if elected, the 3 biggest opposition parties could join up to form a coalition government.

His remarks were decried by Progress Singapore Party chief Tan Cheng Bock, who said the PAP was trying to “frighten” Singaporeans. He was also quoted by CNA as saying,

They tried this strategy before – telling people that when you wake up tomorrow after Polling Day and you find no PAP governing Singapore… first and foremost it is very unlikely to happen and to me it’s a political ploy again.

DPM Heng said “opposition wipeout” warning is tactic

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat has also dismissed Mr Pritam’s “opposition wipeout” warning as a tactic.

In a video on Facebook posted on 5 Jul, Mr Heng said that fear was being using by WP to win more seats in Parliament.

However, in the same video, Mr Heng also raised a warning himself,

What would Singaporeans think, if they wake up next Saturday, to find that the PAP has lost four GRCs and two SMCs? What would investors and other countries think?

Some may say this warning is one that is very simlar to Mr Pritam’s warning of an opposition wipeout. Watch Mr Heng’s video here.

 

Thus, given

  • these previous statements by PAP politicians
  • the “toehold” the WP had in Parliament due to almost losing Aljunied in GE2015
  • the stepping down of Mr Png Eng Huat in Hougang SMC

Mr Pritam told the reporter,

I’ll leave you to conclude who is fearmongering.

Pritam gives credit to Mr Low, Sylvia Lim

During the presser, a reporter pointed out that it took former WP chief Low Thia Khiang 10 years to win his first town council since assuming leadership of the party in 2001.

However, just 2 years after becoming WP secretary-general, Mr Pritam has won another GRC. Thus, he was asked how he would rate his performance?

To that, Mr Pritam answered that he would leave the public to rate his performance.

He also paid tribute to Mr Low, saying that the major reason why WP took a 2nd GRC is due to leaders that came before him, like Mr Low and WP chairman Sylvia Lim, who laid the foundation for WP to be a responsible party.

Insisting that the achievement isn’t his to parade or brandish about, Mr Pritam said that it’s actually a collective effort by the people who came before him, adding,

Without the people that came before us there will be no achievements for people to crow about, and that should be appreciated.

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Pritam relates war story

Finally, on analysts’ comments that the PAP hasn’t fared so well but the WP has made progress, Mr Pritam said that even the WP has to do some soul-searching and can’t be complacent.

He related an anecdote on how he liked to watch war movies with his father when young.

One of the movies they watched was “Tora! Tora! Tora!”, about Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbour, after which the Japanese high command was happy at a victory over the United States.

However, Japanese General Yamamoto was pensive, saying that he has been to the US and seen the deep resources it has, and he feared that what Japan had done was to “awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve”. Gen Yamamoto proved prophetic, as the US won the war.

Pritam says WP won’t be complacent

However, comparing the PAP to the US in terms of its deep resources, Mr Pritam said the WP will not be like the Japanese in World War II, and will work harder now as it knows the PAP will try to take back Sengkang, Aljunied and Hougang.

He also said the analysts may be getting too confident about the WP’s chances, saying,

We have lived with PAP all our lives, we know how powerful they are.

Mr Pritam rounded off the press conference with an apt quote that Mr Low told him,

Singaporeans don’t want us to fail, so let’s not fail them.

Good for S’pore in the long run

While many think that GE2020 was a success for the WP, it’s good that they won’t remain complacent.

With WP working hard to prove their worth in the Parliament, as well as in the constituencies they now represent, as well as the PAP trying its best to get them back, it can only be good for Singapore and Singaporeans in the long run.

The next 5 years will be interesting.

Featured image adapted from Facebook.