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Room for opposition parties to improve

Editor-at-Large Han Fook Kwang has wisely made comparisons between the electoral systems of Germany and Singapore (The politics of dominance: Don't take it to the limit; Oct 1).

He also rightly noted that every country has to decide which system works best for it.

In Singapore, there are many reasons why the opposition can't hold a candle to the ruling party.

First, the ruling party has a sound, stringent system to recruit, assess, select, deploy and review the best candidates from an earmarked pool for each election.

Candidates can expect a probable electoral victory, successful political career and handsome salary package.

The opposition parties are not up to par in comparison. They are unable to offer similar perks to entice capable candidates.

The political apathy among many Singaporeans, especially professionals, may also mean they have different priorities, or are afraid to step forward to join the opposition camp because of perceived risks. In the eyes of the public, the opposition is not united and the parties lack active interaction, mutual trust and cooperation among themselves. This can be seen in the competition in various constituencies in previous general elections. The opposition parties also generally lackfunds to support and launch aggressive election campaigns.

Most importantly, each party's manifesto and electoral programmes must be precise, with details that are workable and pragmatic, so they can convince voters. There is room for opposition parties to improve in these areas.

That said, the ruling party cannot afford to be complacent or arrogant. Its leaders need to be closely in touch with the ground, and know the public's sentiments well in order to implement workable and acceptable policies.

Teo Kueh Liang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 08, 2017, with the headline 'Room for opposition parties to improve'. Print Edition | Subscribe