Friday, 10 August 2018

Looking to Malaysia, Singapore’s opposition comes together

Ex-MP Tan Cheng Bock's new alliance aims to replicate Malaysia's opposition election win to depose Singapore's long-ruling People's Action Party

The May 9 election triumph of Malaysia’s Pakatan Harapan opposition coalition, marking the country’s first-ever transition of power since achieving independence in 1957, was perhaps most closely watched in neighboring Singapore, where the People’s Action Party (PAP) has ruled uninterrupted since 1959.

With the fall of Malaysia’s long-dominant Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition, the PAP is now the longest-governing incumbent party in Southeast Asia. But the BN’s unexpected loss has caused many in Singapore to ponder the possibility of the PAP one day losing power, a prospect local opposition parties hope to realize at the next polls.

“The people of Singapore, like the people in Malaysia, must be tired of having the same government, the same party since independence,” newly elected Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad remarked in an interview after returning to office. He is remembered in Singapore for acerbic remarks that frequently needled the rich city-state during his previous 22-year tenure.

Though political conditions in the two neighbors differ in important ways, the parallels are apparently close enough for the leaders of Singapore’s disparate opposition parties to look to Pakatan Harapan’s strategy and tactics as a roadmap, in spite of the PAP’s asymmetric dominance in parliament and ironclad control over the state bureaucracy.

Read the full story at Asia Times.

Nile Bowie is a writer and journalist with the Asia Times covering current affairs in Singapore and Malaysia. He can be reached at