Expectations of opposition, ruling party cannot be the same

The aftermath of General Election 2015 has been much discussed and analysed. There is a long way for our political system and culture to go, before we can be a true democracy, if at all.

A true democracy necessitates a viable and effective opposition representation in Parliament. An opposition provides diversity, richness and depth of views on national policies, ensuring that they are balanced and robust.

But there are opposition candidates, and there are opposition candidates. For GE2015, there was a handful of well-qualified, articulate, rational and passionate candidates.

Unfortunately, the stereotypical views held by the electorate of the opposition, pitted against its comfort level with the tried and tested, deeply entrenched PAP, denied these candidates a place in Parliament.

If the electorate is intelligent, discerning and sophisticated, as some quarters will have us believe, then it should have the ability to separate the men from the boys. With that, the fear of a freak election outcome, favouring the opposition, would be misplaced.

Generally, the electorate has been unfair to the opposition. For instance, when the Workers' Party articulated an ambition to form the government in its GE2011 manifesto, it was ridiculed.

And when it expressed no intention of forming the government in GE2015, given its unreadiness, people said that its alternative policies and plans will continue to fall by the wayside ("Returning to the 'old normal'" by Ms Maria Loh Mun Foong; Sept 19).

Our current political system and culture disadvantage the opposition. Not being availed of national resources, they are unable to promise voters tangible benefits, and these are what most voters expect.

Hence, if the electorate honestly thinks that having an opposition in Parliament is important, then its expectations of the opposition cannot mirror those of the ruling party.

The 30 per cent of valid votes garnered by the opposition does indicate that part of the electorate does want opposition presence.

But so long as the electorate adheres to its current mindset, the opposition will never be a viable force. And it is a vicious circle, as suitable individuals will shun the opposition camp, knowing that they do not stand a chance of winning.

When this happens, future outcomes will, predictably, be the same as those of past general elections.

Lawrence Loh Kiah Muan