Low Thia Khiang Believes In Potential For Workers’ Party To Form Alternative Government

As reported by Today, Party Chief Mr Low Thia Khiang has apparently changed his mind about the future of the Workers’ Party (WP). Since publicly declaring that WP was not ready four years ago, Mr Low now believes that the party is one step closer to evolving to the next stage – forming a potential alternative government.

People Won’t Seek Alternatives, Unless PAP Becomes Rotten

Before you jump to conclusions, Mr Low clarified in an interview published in the book Walking with Singapore by the Workers’ Party,

“We can potentially upscale, but that depends on the support of the people as well. I don’t think the electorate will want an alternative government unless the PAP (People’s Action Party) becomes rotten. So, whether or not we will become an alternative government, I’m not sure.”

Mr Low also describes WP’s current political standing as a strong “foundation” to be built upon, but remains uncertain on how close they are to transforming this potential into a reality.

TL;DR: WP acknowledges their potential for alternative governance, but it depends on the support of the people of Singapore.

A Reality Check For Progress

Today reported that Mr Low was “scolded” by his supporters, who wanted WP to make progress and form an alternative government. This came after Mr Low said that it would take 20 years for his party to even consider doing so.

Mr Low chose to keep it real, stating,

“I don’t think that in reality the Workers’ Party could meet this expectation. It was a bubble. When the bubble bursts, you have a problem.”

To put this into context, although WP contested an unprecedented 28 seats in 2015’s General Election (GE), it was still less than a third of the total Parliamentary seats available. This is a far cry from winning the necessary majority required to topple the PAP.

TL;DR: WP is still far from winning a majority in Parliament, but they are one step closer to progress.

#WPgoals – Winning Another GRC

In Walking with Singapore, Mr Low elaborates on at least 2 possible goals for the WP to work on if they want to make forming an alternative government a genuine possibility.

As WP currently holds 6 out of 89 seats in Parliament, their first goal would be to increase that number to 20. Mr Low would also consider winning another GRC a possible sign that people are seeking to effect change in Singapore through the WP.
However, he emphasized that winning another GRC did not automatically place WP on the fast track to becoming the ruling party, stating that he prefers to remain “realistic” although acknowledging that “every political party aspires to be the next government”.
TL;DR: If WP wins another GRC in the next GE, they will take it as a sign from Singaporeans.

#WPgoals – Organisational Skills? We’re Working On It.

Mr Low also pointed out that in terms of experience and organisational skills, WP would have to work on “team-based operations” to form “a structure that people can operate at”. This would be essential in determining WP’s ability to successfully form a convincing alternative to the PAP.

Associate Professor Eugene Tan of Singapore Management University was quoted by Today as saying that if WP can prove their ability in running town councils smoothly and raising their game in Parliamentary debates, they may possibly have a better chance of achieving their goals.

TL;DR: WP is honing their organisational skills and working a team-based operational structure.

A 60-Year Performance Review

Over the span of 60 years, WP has scored at least two notable achievements in Singapore’s short but eventful political history. They remain the only opposition party in Singapore to have successfully elected an entire GRC (Aljunied) and are home to the first female opposition party member to win a by-election, Ms Lee Li Lian.

However, as of late, WP’s performance at the polls has not been stellar. In 2013, WP lost Punggol-East SMC to the PAP in the 2013 by-election and proceeded to win Aljunied GRC and Hougang  in 2015’s GE with notably smaller margins as compared to the 2011. They were also plagued by the AHTC saga this year which resulted in ongoing civil lawsuits against the main leaders in WP.

WP has admittedly a lot of legwork to cover before they can make that bid with utmost confidence. At the very least, WP seems clear about the reality and are striving to work against odds which are mostly not stacked in their favour.

Taking The Next Step With Singapore

The Workers’ Party has come a long way since its founding in 1957, and their journey as the largest political opposition party in Singapore has been eventful to say the least, having experienced their fair share of ups and downs. Most of Mr Low’s recent comments definitely signify a potential turning point for his party and all eyes are set on WP’s next step as they celebrate 60 years of walking with Singapore.

Perhaps with that much experience, an evolution will indeed be possible in the near future? We guess only time will tell.

WP’s commemorative book entitled Walking With Singapore will be available in bookstores on Friday (3 Nov).

Featured image from Worker’s Party and Workers’ Party.