Translated by Donaldson Tan
This is a non-verbatim translation of Zaobao report 《一名政党领袖：工人党掉入 ‘非选区议员圈套’》 dated 9 March 2011.
Workers’ Party fallen into NCMP Trap
The Opposition is still locked in a stalemate over territorial claims on electoral wards. Some smaller political parties have cried out that they will contest the Worker’s Party (WP) if the WP refuses to buldge.
The WP had intended to send 24 candidates to contest 9 constituencies which include Hougang SMC, Joo Chiat SMC, Sengkang West SMC, Punggol-East SMC, Whampoa SMC, Nee Soon GRC, Aljunied GRC, East Coast GRC and Moulmein-Kallang GRC.
Some of these constituencies are also targetted by other opposition political parties. For example, the WP, National Solidarity Party (NSP), the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) and the Socialist Front (SF) are all eying Whampoa SMC.
Traditionally, the Opposition camp would participate in a multi-party roundtable to negotiate their claims over allocation of electoral wards prior to every General Election. However, despite having gone through 2 roundtable sessions dated 3rd and 5th March 2011 respectively, the Opposition parties are still unable to negotiate a settlement that would avoid three-cornered fights. Zaobao understands the inter-party negotiations are still going on.
Some party leaders blamed the WP for causing the failure of both Roundtable sessions. According to them, the WP was unyielding and refused to compromise. One party leader, on the condition of anonymity, told Zaobao that the Worker’s Party had fallen into the ‘NCMP trap’. He explained that the Singapore Constitution provides for up to a maximum of 9 NCMPs who will be chosen from the list of best-performing Opposition candidates who lost the General Election. He added:
Currently, the WP is represented in Parliament by 1 MP and 1 NCMP. Assuming that WP has higher probability than other Opposition political parties to win more votes, this strategy would result in WP sending at least 6 party members into Parliament, thus expanding its parliamentary presence.
However, an online commentator disagreed with the anonymous party leader’s view:
Zaobao was unable to obtain comments from the Worker’s Party leadership on the remarks made by the anonymous party leader. NSP Secretary General Mr Goh Meng Seng hinted on his blog that the reason why WP refused to buldge is because the WP felt threatened by NSP’s expansion. He wrote:
Mr Goh is a former WP member. He had mentioned many times on his blog the impending three-cornered fight involving the NSP and the WP. He also added that some WP members are arrogant and overconfident. “Arrogance and head-swell syndrome are bad traits for Singapore politics,” he emphasised in his blog.
Both WP and NSP intend to send GE candidates to Nee Soon GRC, Moulmein-Kallang GRC and Whampoa SMC. Zaobao understands that NSP already expressed its intention to back off from Nee Soon GRC on the condition that WP backs off from Moulmein-Kallang GRC. Both parties are still negotiating and should negotiation fails, it is very likely to see three-cornered fights at all 3 constituencies.
The Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA) is also unsatisfied with the WP. Both WP and SDA are eying Punggol-East and Sengkang-West SMCs. The SDA is prepared to back off from Sengkang-West SMC should the WP backed off from Punggol-East SMC. However, SDA Secretary-General Mr Desmond Lim said that the WP doesn’t intend to cooperate.
Mr Lim earlier had expressed his intention to change from contesting at Pasir-Ris-Punggol GRC to contesting at Punggol-East SMC. According to established norms among the Opposition, Mr Lim stressed that being a candidate for Pasir-Ris-Punggol GRC during the last General Election gives him the priority to contest at Punggol-East SMC.