~by: Douglas See~
What a non-Singaporean thinks of a two-party system would be one that is typical of that in US; two dominant parties in politics, where any other parties has a rare chance of winning elections (even though it can influence the two dominant parties).
From a Singaporean perspective, however, the meaning greatly differs. Here, two-party system refers to a system where there is another opposition party that is strong and influential enough to challenge the political dominance held by PAP, where there can be meaningful rivalry between the two.
This is opposed to the single-party system we have now, where most of the opposing parties is subjugated by PAP.
I do not believe that Singapore will spiral downward with a two-party system and in fact believe that given the changing political landscape and profile of the citizens, it cannot do without it. Critics may argue that a two-party system will not only slow down the decision making process in the government, but also, parties in their efforts to maintain their positions, will make decisions that can help them win votes rather than decisions that are good for the country.
As one can see in the 2012 budget debate, politicians challenge each other on their said comments, accusing them of making allegations that discredit their opponents. They argue that such politicking brings politicians away from the more crucial issues of making good policies, and hence a two-party system will be detrimental.
Yet, this oft-repeated claim is actually myopic and outdated. Note here that in the past, I would agree that a one-party system with incorruptible and capable leaders may indeed make a country strong and robust as the government can not only make effective policies, but also execute it efficiently and without unnecessary delay.
However, in the midst of the volatility we face today, I do not think that a single-party can actually make wise decisions without a parliament that actually fosters debate and welcome feedback, where people can speak their minds freely and have their opinions respected.
Voters these days are more politically savvy and they want decision makers that actually listen to them and address their needs. This is made worse by a single-party government made up of politicians who are out of touch with the ordinary citizen. A two-party system can actually remedy this problem, at least, by introducing competition and forcing the incumbents to step out of their comfort zone.
Of course, the opposition party has to be rational and competent for a two-party system to be effective, but still an average two-party system will do much better for the country than a one-party system that has only a 50/50 chance of doing well and yet has no need for any forms of accountability to its citizens.
If the incumbent is competent and can rationalise with its citizens on the decisions they have made, they have no need to fear that they will be ousted by any opposition.
What this country needs is more representation and diverging opinions to help make this country better, not less.