Straits Times: Lack of challenge PAP’s doing, counters WP chief

WORKERS’ Party (WP) chief Low Thia Khiang responded yesterday to Minister Lim Swee Say’s remarks that he had not been challenged by the opposition during the 1997 and 2001 General Elections.

Mr Low, the MP for Hougang, said in a statement last night that such a situation was a result of the ruling party’s own doing.

He also challenged a point Mr Lim made at a forum with young Singaporeans on Thursday night – that there is a level playing field here for the opposition parties.

Mr Lim, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and MP for Holland-Bukit Panjang GRC, said during the forum that it was not his fault that he had never been challenged at the polls.

The implementation of Group Representation Constituencies (GRCs) and the redrawing of electoral boundaries were not aimed at reducing the opposition’s chances of contesting elections, he added.

But in his statement, Mr Low said the “constant expansion” of the GRCs resulted in the opposition being unable to muster enough resources and manpower to keep up.

The redrawing of boundaries just before polls also made it hard for them to prepare, and laws restricting political donations made the difficulties they already faced in raising money worse, he added.

Such rules, which he said Mr Lim professed to be fair, weaken the opposition’s ability to compete, the WP chief said.

“This results in many citizens not having the opportunity to vote at General Elections and PAP candidates subsequently getting the ‘mandate’ to enter Parliament,” Mr Low said. This is especially apparent in GRCs.

“Is this by chance? Is this the result of the so-called fair competitive environment, the will of the people or the will of the opposition parties?” he asked.

“I can’t speak for all opposition parties, but I can say at least that this is not the fault of the Workers’ Party.”

He said his party had worked to ensure that there was a robust political system here, providing checks and balances to the Government and, by so doing, protected the people’s interest.

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