Saturday, April 30, 2011

A Tale of Two Opposition Parties

SDP Rally at Yuhua on 29.4.11 8pm

Workers' Party and Singapore Democratic Party. One is an old brand, the other is being rebranded. The former has a more substantial manifesto. The latter's manifesto is considerably weaker in content. One has entrenched itself in a SMC and is on the verge of winning a GRC. The other is trying to reclaim its lost glory days and get a seat in parliament. One is filled with good speakers who make sense. The other is filled with mediocre speakers at best, and of which some just have rally rhetoric and made little sense. This is my experience from comparing the WP rally on 28.4.11 and the SDP rally on 29.4.11.

A Class Apart

Between the two parties, WP is more likely to beat the PAP than SDP from the way the crowd behaved. I attended the WP party Hougang SMC rally on the 28th and there was chanting of "Workers' Party", cheering and clapping. Low Thia Khiang, Sylvia Lim and the newcomer fresh off the plane Chen Show Mao had an electrifying hold over us. When Chen Show Mao appeared and greeted the crowd in Malay, Tamil, Mandarin and English, the crowd roared in approval. Low Thia Khiang wove his charismatic magic and it was clear that the crowd which numbered in the thousands that filled the field about 2-3 times a football field all backed him. I bet even the PAP supporters among them too. Especially when he said the WP as a figurative co-driver was there to slap the PAP in parliament if the PAP drove dangerously. Low also had a nice touch of formally introducing Yaw Shin Leong, ensuring a proper and official handover of Hougang.

The frenzy in the WP rally was not seen in the SDP Yuhua SMC rally on the 29th. At about 8pm on Friday night, the stadium where the SDP rally was held was sparsely populated. This was in sheer contrast to the Hougang experience where it was already packed one hour into the rally. None of the SDP speakers could move the crowd like how the WP candidates did. Ang Yong Guan from SDP tried his best to work up the crowd but his crass efforts were futile. Teo Soh Lung who was going to wrest the SMC from PAP's Grace Fu just appeared nice but she couldn't connect to the crowd particularly because of her poor command of Mandarin. One thing oddly different was also that in the SDP rally, only the speaker was on stage and everyone else was somewhere resting perhaps. Bad form. In contrast, in the WP's rally, the various candidates sat on the stage, behind the speaker, implying that they bothered to sit there, however uncomfortable it was, to try connect with the crowd and show support for their fellow candidates.

Hopes and Fat Hopes

Is the WP's A-Team going to take over Aljunied GRC at least? If the crowd reaction is any indicator, probably. No amount of upgrading promise can keep Aljunied residents voting for PAP. Unless the PAP becomes creative in its pork-barrel politics e.g. cheaper better faster childcare, elderly care and other services beside physical infrastructure.

Is SDP's A-Team going to win Holland-Bt Timah GRC? Judging from the crowd reaction and performance of the speakers, their chances are quite dismal, especially if the Holland-Bt Timah residents are confident that WP is taking over Aljunied anyway and why have an opposition like SDP in their turf?

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