VIDEO | Singapore: The Possibility of Change?

Lecture with SDN visiting fellow, Chee Soon Juan (Secretary-General, Singapore Democratic Party), June 2014

With planning already underway for Singapore’s 50th anniversary celebrations to begin in early 2015, the country has much to celebrate since its independence from British rule. A prosperous island state, with a thriving cosmopolitanism, a vibrant ethnic diversity and economic success, Singapore commands an enormous presence in Asia and the Pacific.

The ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) has dominated politics and maintained power ever since Singaporean independence. When Lee Hsien Loong became prime minister in 2004, some hoped that he would usher in much needed reforms to Singapore’s political system. However, increasingly, the government has been condemned for its intolerance of opposition and there have been criticisms over declining economic productivity and the need for educational reforms.

The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) is a liberal opposition group in Singaporean politics, with a focus on enhancing democratic principles and practices, strengthening justice and creating a society which values and embraces equal status and opportunities for all its citizens. With a focus on enhancing the economy through government deregulation, as well as social pluralism and diversity, and enhancing respect for human, civil and political rights, the SDP presents itself as a credible alternative to the PAP.

Unlike previously, Singaporeans are beginning to resist the ruling PAP’s control. This has been possible with the use of the social media. The opposition has also been able to communicate directly with the electorate through the Internet instead of relying on the state-controlled media.

With significantly improved general election results – it’s showing improved 14% in the 2011 poll – and a significantly expanding membership over the past 5 years, especially youth membership, the liberal democratic message is beginning to resonate with an increasing number of Singapore’s voters.