Workers’ Party indecision costing them time

Gerald Giam

“But the guessing game is more fun, no?”

A lot has been said about the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) and its ridiculous proposal to run a joint campaign with the Workers’ Party (WP), and how WP rejected the overtures. But not much has been said about WP itself.

What has the Workers’ Party been doing so far?

Quite rightly, WP believes that it is the opposition party with the biggest claim to run. And if its recent responses to SDP are to be read as they seem to suggest, it is going ahead with its own campaign regardless of what any other party is doing.

It is now exactly one month since Mr Michael Palmer’s resignation. At that time, the Workers’ Party, along with the other parties, urged the Prime Minister to call for a by-election as soon as possible and said that they are ready to offer a choice to the voters of Punggol East.

It is therefore beyond belief that, one month after Punggol East SMC became vacant and three days now since the by-election has been confirmed, WP still hasn’t decided which candidate it is going to field. This is not a general election where they might want to wait until nomination day to decide strategically which candidate should contest where. In a single ward contest, they should long have this firmed up. Right after the PM declared the by-election date, they should have announced to the public who their candidate will be, as what PAP has done.

But they didn’t. So, in the meantime, while WP is still dilly-dallying and getting drawn into this mini-drama with SDP, PAP candidate Dr Koh Poh Koon has already been busy walking the ground for the past two days. Viewed against Singapore’s notoriously short election campaign periods, this is precious time WP is losing when it should be getting their candidate out to the ward and into good photo-ops for the papers. The same can be said of all the other parties, but most of them—including SDP—may just be posturing with no real intention to run.

It looks like Dr Koh will be blessed with a peaceful walk to the finish while his competitors are busy tripping themselves up even before they arrive at the starting line. There is no baptism of fire into political life so far, with caretaker MP Teo Ser Luck babysitting him nicely. Wasting no time, they have even met up with the contractors and tenants of Rivervale Plaza, where upgrading works have stalled, to help resolve one of the pressing issues in the constituency.

If WP really has no interest in dealing with SDP as it purports, it must stop wasting time and get its candidate out as soon as possible. Let’s hope they do announce on Sunday.