Singaporeans will be going to the polls for the parliamentary election this Saturday, 7th May 2011. The opposition bloc consists of nine parties, including some independent candidates. The current majority ruling party in Singapore is the People’s Action Party (PAP).
The campaigning this past week was dominated by topics like ministerial pay, rising living costs and most importantly, the issue of the large number of foreign workers in Singapore and the result of this influx.
The opposition has accused foreigners of stealing jobs, depressing wages, straining schools, housing, transport etc. In a campaign speech, the youngest candidate ever to be fielded, Nicole Seah of the National Solidarity Party, told people “Now every time I take the train, it feels like I'm in a different country. It is like taking a holiday. I don't even need to bring my passport!"
These high anti-foreign sentiments in Singapore would be most pertinent to Singapore-ASEAN relations. They also underpin the attractiveness of Singapore as a regional hub for trade and manufacturing and as a major global centre for banking and finance. A key issue for many foreign nationals and corporations who use Singapore as their regional base is whether a drop in the support for PAP will effect changes in current immigration policies.
Background and Analysis: Singapore PM makes rare apology as election campaign heats up [The Star, May 4, 2011]
In an analysis, the Bangkok Post commented “it’s an ironic turn of events for a city-state founded on cheap immigrant labour during British colonial rule, with most families tracing their roots to China, India, Malaysia and Indonesia.”
Background and Analysis: Singapore opposition taps anti immigrant sentiments [Bangkok Post, May 1, 2011]
In order to win political space for ‘alternative voices’ in the parliament, the several opposition parties have avoided fighting each other in all the 14 GRCs and 11 of the 12 single-member wards. They have no prime ministerial candidate of their own.
The question then becomes, assuming all the opposition get into parliament, what then will happen if these alternative voices do not agree with each other?