S'pore safe with the best man for the job

The massive win for the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) in the 2015 General Election shows once again how powerful the party is.

Indeed, the PAP has been invincible since its first general election victory in 1959, winning every subsequent general election.

Thankfully, it has not failed in its avowed mission to not only protect our rice bowl but to also give us a bigger bowl.

The strongest opponent the PAP ever had was the communist-dominated Barisan Sosialis, formed in 1961 by expelled PAP members.

Even so, the Barisan failed to unseat the PAP in the 1963 General Election, taking only 13 of the 46 seats it contested in the then 51-seat Legislative Assembly.

The PAP won 37 seats, and 47.4 per cent of the valid vote cast, with the Barisan getting 32.1 per cent. The remaining seat went to the United People's Party.

The Barisan was unhappy over many issues and agitated against them by calling for industrial strikes, protest marches, sit-ins and other disruptive, anti-social programmes.

Unable to get its way, it boycotted the Legislative Assembly, vowing to carry on with its struggles in the streets. It also boycotted the 1968 General Election for the new Parliament of 58 seats.

The Barisan's absence was a blessing for the PAP. On Nomination Day, it got a huge walkover, with 51 candidates returned unopposed.

On Polling Day, it captured the remaining seven seats. Thus began the one-party rule in Singapore, as the Barisan went into oblivion.

To this day, the PAP has had no opposition party worthy of its steel.

The current opponents are like a school football team playing against the national team. They have a long way to go.

Some day, perhaps, an opponent of equal or greater power and capability may emerge and defeat the PAP, or at least, give it a truly good fight. But it may not be necessarily disastrous for us if that party is equally honest, competent, committed and incorrupt.

The late Mr Lee Kuan Yew was a fervent believer in having the best man for the job.

He said, while campaigning in the 1988 General Election: "Vote for the best candidate... If the non-PAP candidate is better than the PAP candidate, will do a better job in the town council and in Parliament, vote him in. In that way, Singapore is safe. If you vote the wrong man, then I wish you well. You will soon find out." ("Now, to secure the future: PM"; Aug 22, 1988).

For now, the PAP is the best man for the job, as it has been since 1959.

Anthony Oei