Workers’ Party Reveals How An Opposition Party Will Be Allowed To Participate In National Day Parades
For as long as we can remember, there has always been a marching contingent from the People’s Action Party in National Day Parades throughout the years. But what about opposition political parties such as the Workers’ Party (WP)? This was thought that crossed the minds of the WP’s 60th Anniversary Planning Committee as they mused about the best way to commemorate the political party’s milestone.
Which is why they applied to take part as a marching contingent in this year’s NDP. However, the NDP Organising Committee rejected the WP’s application, arguing that there were too many applicants. When quizzed about the selection criteria, WP were told that the rubric was “confidential”.
Instead of allowing the failure to dampen the party’s celebrations, the WP decided to focus on the launch of the WP60 book which commemorates the party’s 60 years of history. Ironically, research for this book ultimately revealed the true reason why the WP was not allowed to participate.
Best way to celebrate milestone
Speaking at the WP’s 60th Anniversary dinner party, Assistant Secretary-General and Chairman for the Planning Committee, Pritam Singh shared that his committee had applied for a Workers’ Party contingent to march in this year’s National Day Parade.
The committee felt that marching as a contingent in this year’s NDP would be an excellent way to commemorate the party’s 60th anniversary since it was founded by David Marshall in 1957. However, the committee’s plans were derailed after the NDP organising committee rejected the WP’s application, citing the “overwhelming” response from “over 30 social organisations”.
Disappointed, the WP tried to procure a reason for the rejection but were told that the selection criteria was “confidential”.
However, it seemed that the fate had a different answer for the WP’s rejection.
De ja vu?
Whilst researching for the WP60 book, the committee discovered an old document that was addressed to former party Secretary-General J.B Jeyaretnam. It was revealed that the late party leader had also applied for a WP marching contingent at the NDP following Mr Jeyaretnam’s Anson victory in 1981.
However, the party chief met with a similar failure as the WP60 planning committee.
As fate would have had it, Mr Jeyaretnam also asked for a reason for the rejection. And here is what Senior Parliamentary Secretary Phua Bah Lee replied him:
“our National Day parades will be limited to the party in power and to an opposition party that has at least 15% of the seats in Parliament”.
Assuming the seats referred to are elected positions, it would mean that an opposition party would have to win at least 14 seats in today’s Parliament.
To add insult to injury, Mr Phua told Mr Jeyaretnam that the last time the opposition was allowed to march during a national day parade was before 1965 — the year Singapore gained independence. If you don’t get the sarcasm, Mr Phua was probably insinuating never.
With a copy of the government’s stance and six out of the fourteen seats, it might be sooner rather than later that we will see a WP contingent in the NDP. That is if “the government sticks to its word” as Mr Singh hopes.
Featured image from WP’s Facebook.