Quite a number of people have commented that the various opposition parties should merge. Proponents of this idea would argue that this would create a stronger opposition with more shared resources to challenge the PAP in 2016. I would beg to differ. Such sentiments although logical in theory are simplistic.
Each opposition party has its own views, ideology and beliefs as enshrined in their respective manifestos. There are therefore distinct differences between each party. If that were not the case, JBJ would not have resigned from the WP to form the Reform Party. Nor would Chiam See Tong have left the SDP to join the SPP. James Gomez similarly left the WP to join the SDP. From these movements, one can see that to merge all the various opposition parties into one super opposition party is not only untenable, but wholly unrealistic. Beautiful in theory but totally unworkable in practice.
Opposition parties exist to proffer their own ideas and proposals. In the David and Goliath struggle between the PAP and the opposition parties, it is easy to lose sight of that. However, let us remember that the opposition parties exist to give voters a choice and an opportunity to vote for a party they feel best represents them, be that the PAP, the WP, the SDP, the SPP, the NSP or the Reform Party. They do not exist solely for the purpose of toppling the PAP. As such, calls for the various opposition parties to merge so as to mount a more effective challenge against the PAP is short sighted.
Say all the opposition parties merge and become a super opposition party whereby you have all the opposition heavy weights in one party. They may very well beat the PAP at the ballot box. But what happens next? If their sole unifying factor was to defeat the PAP, this alliance would quickly crumble once they win the election. They may agree to provide the alternative voice, but what should that voice say?
As such, political parties should never merge just to topple a common enemy. This would simply lead to infighting once that common enemy is defeated. This fragmentation would not only negate the positive impact of an alternative voice but destroy any clear vision that one opposition party may have had on its own.
Therefore, let democracy take its course. Slowly but surely, the opposition parties will develop, grow and get stronger. They should not merge as a shortcut to victory. This is the beginning of change, a first step on Singapore’s journey to a mature democracy.