With a deadly pandemic and battered economy on our hands, it’s more important than ever to have a competent government, though there are many political parties in Singapore.
Vote the wrong politician into office and you end up with someone who spends 10 minutes talking about how he can walk up steep ramps and drink a glass of water with one hand instead of racism and the coronavirus.
On 10 July, Singaporeans will cast their ballots in the 2020 General Election for the leaders they believe will carry them safely through this coronavirus pandemic and financial crisis.
A record 11 opposition parties (one has just been dissolved) could be contesting in this year’s election, but let’s be honest; other than the PAP and WP, the rest of the parties could be a collection of acronyms and initialisms that we don’t know much about.
But hey, that’s why we’re here, so that you don’t think of PSP as a portable game console.
Reader: I thought you were here to tell us facts about nose hair?
Well, we’re versatile.
Political Parties in Singapore Simplified for You
Here’s a complete guide to all the political parties in Singapore, starting with the youngest.
Red Dot United
Red Dot United sounds like a Singaporean football team filled with uncles trying to make it to the S-League, but it’s actually the country’s youngest political party.
Founded on 26 May 2020, Red Dot United is a breakaway faction from the Progress Singapore Party (PSP), led by former PSP members Ravi Philemon, 52, and Michelle Lee, 43.
The party, which is barely out of its infancy, has 12 members, including two other former PSP members.
Red Dot’s application to the Registry of Societies in May was only approved on 15 June, less than a month before the General Election.
They have unveiled a five-member team to contest in Jurong Group Representation Constituency (GRC).
Progress Singapore Party (PSP)
Like Red Dot United, the Progress Singapore Party might be younger than some of your children.
PSP’s membership has since reached 1,000.
Lee Hsien Yang, brother of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, recently joined the PSP, though it’s unclear if he will be contesting in the upcoming General Election.
In Feb 2020, PSP announced its first public policy proposal which includes broader relief packages for businesses, and a halt to GST hikes, among other things.
The party also criticised POFMA, saying it doesn’t “measure up to standards of transparency and accountability”, and that when the news involves the government, it also “fails the standard of independence”.
On their website, PSP says they are committed to “reducing income inequality” and aiding those who “encounter calamities, disabilities or illnesses requiring costly or prolonged treatment.”
“We envision a progressive Singapore which values diverse opinions and ideas, built on the foundations of accountability, transparency and independence of the three branches of government – the Parliament, the Civil Service and the Courts”, it sad.
According to Mothership, PSP is looking to contest at least 8 constituencies in Singapore.
They are West Coast GRC, Choa Chu Kang GRC, Hong Kah North SMC, Tanjong Pagar GRC, Pioneer SMC, Marymount SMC, Yio Chu Kang SMC, and Kebun Bahru SMC.
People’s Voice (PV)
Singapore’s 11th political party is the People’s Voice (PV), founded on 31 October 2018.
Lim Tean hit the headlines recently after mainstream media found that the lawyer is facing two pending bankruptcy claims totalling about $1.45 million.
PV isn’t your typical political party, in that it sometimes shares memes on its Facebook account.
On Lim’s Facebook page, he says that PV’s aim is to “protect Singaporean jobs and implement a living wage”.
He also wants to “make Singapore our home again”.
Why does that sounds familiar?
According to The Straits Times, PV announced that it will contest the single-seat ward of Punggol West and Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC.
People’s Power Party (PPP)
The People’s Power Party, the political organisation that clearly loves alliteration, was founded on 16 July 2015 by veteran politician Goh Meng Seng just before the 2015 GE.
Goh had previously served as a member of the Workers’ Party of Singapore and National Solidarity Party, in 2006 and 2011 respectively.
PPP advocates the Separation of Five Powers ideology, where responsibilities are divided into distinct branches of government.
This limits any one branch from exercising the core functions of another, which prevents an abuse of power.
Kind of like US’s Government system, though the country Obama lives in has only three branches.
According to The Straits Times, PPP will contest in the Radin Mas and MacPherson SMCs.
Reform Party (RP)
The Reform Party (RP) was founded on 3 July 2008 by lawyer J.B. Jeyaretnam, a man who was the first opposition politician since Singapore’s independence in 1965 to win a seat in Parliament, when he was the leader of the Workers’ Party.
The opposition veteran died on 30 September 2008 of heart failure, and the reins were handed over to his son, Kenneth Jeyaretnam.
In a 2015 manifesto, RP said their objective is to:
- return power to the people
- build a more transparent, humane, and fairer society
- rescue Singapore’s “outdated” economic system
Some of their proposed policies include:
- increasing disclosure of the accounts of GIC and Temasek
- allowing Singapore citizens to own the freehold of their HDB
- reducing national service to one year
- moratorium on death penalty with view to abolish it altogether
RP believes that every member of the society is born with “fundamental rights which cannot be abrogated… and that it is the paramount duty of the society to promote the human dignity of its every single member”.
This election, RP will contest in Ang Mo Kio GRC, Yio Chu Kang SMC and Radin Mas SMC.
Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA)
The Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA) is the only political organisation on the list that is an alliance of opposition political parties.
The coalition was made up of the Singapore People’s Party (SPP), National Solidarity Party (NSP), the Singapore Justice Party (SJP), and the Singapore Malay National Organization (PKMS).
The alliance was formed to create an “artificially” dominant opposition party to compete against the ruling PAP.
In its 2011 manifesto called “For Middle and Working Class”, SDA raised issues such as housing policies, social and welfare needs, education, and the Central Provident Fund.
SDA will only contest Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC in this year’s election.
Singapore People’s Party (SPP)
By now you’ve seen the words “Singapore”, “People” and “Party” so many times that your head is probably spinning.
But bear with me, we only have 63 parties to go.
The Singapore People’s Party (SPP) was founded on 21 November 1994 by Sin Kek Tong.
As previously mentioned, SPP is the founding member of the Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA).
The party is now led by Steve Chia, who took over from Chiam See Tong after he retired from politics.
In the SPP National Day 2015 message, SPP said: “Singaporeans… deserve better job and education opportunities, to help them compete on a fair footing in this globalised city-state and abroad.”
SPP says it is guided by the principles of “Service Before Self, For the Nation, For the People.”
The party is expected to contest in Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC and Potong Pasir SMC.
National Solidarity Party (NSP)
The National Solidarity Party (NSP) was formed in 1987 by Kum Teng Hock – a former PAP member – and Soon Kia Seng.
It is now led by Secretary-General Spencer Ng.
NSP said it was created to “uphold democracy and to provide constructive ideas to benefit the Society.”In its manifesto, it calls for:
- Singapore’s National Service period to be reduced to 15 months
- The protection of Singaporeans’ right to free speech
- Higher income tax for those in the top income brackets and the lowering of Goods and Services Tax
- The implementation of a minimum wage
- HDB prices to be lowered
- Citizens and Permanent Residents to be able to withdraw their CPF in full upon reaching retirement age
NSP will contest in Sembawang GRC, Tampines GRCs, Pioneer SMC, and MacPherson SMC.
Singapore Democratic Party (SDP)
The parties are getting old now. Like older than millennials old.
Reader: Wait, didn’t you mention Chiam See Tong before?
I did indeed. Chiam left the SDP in 1996 and joined the SPP. Chee Soon Juan has been the leader of the party since 1993.
4Y1N, which sounds like a K-Pop band, is the company’s tagline for their campaign this election – “Four Yes, One No”.
They’re saying yes to:
- cutting GST until end 2021
- providing retrenchment benefits for workers retrenched as a result of Covid-19
- providing a monthly income of $500 for eligible retirees
- putting the people’s interests first
On the other hand, they’re opposed to the idea of Singapore having a population of 10 million.
SDP describes itself as a “competent, constructive and compassionate”, and says its objective is to build a Singapore where residents don’t have to “constantly struggle with the cost of living”.
They aim to do this by:
- ensuring Singaporeans’ access to CPF funds
- reducing competition with foreigners for employment
- making sure the poor have homes
- and creating jobs for the youth
According to AsiaOne, SDP will contest in Bukit Batok SMC and Yuhua SMC.
They have also expressed interest in contesting Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC and Bukit Panjang SMC.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)
The award for the most adjectives in a political party’s name goes to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which was founded on 16 March 1973 by Seow Khee Leng.
After over a decade of political inactivity, DPP reemerged in 2013 with former members of the Singapore People’s Party (SPP) Benjamin Pwee and Mohamad Hamim Aliyas taking over the leadership of the party.
In 2013, DPP stated that “the way forward is to build a society that is equal and egalitarian to all citizens.”
Back in 2015, DPP outlined several policies or proposals, including:
- additional policy measures to ensure a “Singaporeans-first” domestic job market
- restrictions to foreign workers in Singapore by industrial sectors
- practical support for SMEs
- a wider range of options and retirement savings programmes that Singaporeans can choose from
- tackling Malay–Muslim issues
DPP will contest Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, Marymount SMC, and Kebun Baru SMC, according to its Secretary-General Halim.
Workers’ Party (WP)
Now we’re getting to the battle-scarred veterans. WP and PAP.
When Jeyaretnam took over leadership of the party, he became the first opposition member elected to Parliament in post-independence Singapore in 1981.
Low Thia Khiang, who was secretary-general of the party for 17 years, stepped down as WP chief on 8 April 2018. WP is now led by Pritam Singh.
According to AsiaOne, WP believes in highlighting its disagreements with the ruling party’s policies and pushing for reform “through the existing political processes and within the limits of the law”.
In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, the party has also called for the work environment to be flexible, fair and future-ready.
In 2011, WP became the first opposition party to win a GRC after they won Aljunied GRC.
People’s Action Party (PAP)
Yes, we’ve finally come to the Big Boss. The third-longest ruling party in the world. The acronym everyone mutters to each other whenever there’s an MRT breakdown:
The People’s Action Party (PAP).
PAP was founded on 21 November 1954, by Lee Kuan Yew, Lim Chin Siong, S. Rajaratnam, Toh Chin Chye, and Lim Kim San.
Its first secretary-general, Lee Kuan Yew, became Singapore’s first Prime Minister.
Reader Bao: Seriously, do you need to tell us this? You might as well tell me that water is wet.
Water is indeed wet.
When it was formed 65 years ago, its goals were to end colonialism and create an independent national state of Malaya, among other things.
According to AsiaOne, PAP has become conservative political party over the years, with the aim to “build a fair and just society where the benefits of progress are spread widely to all”.
If I were to list where PAP would be contesting this article would never end, so I shall refrain from doing so.
The ruling party has won every general election and formed the government since Singapore’s independence in 1965.
PAP believes in an egalitarian Singapore where “every individual, regardless of race, language, and religion is “assured of justice and fairness”.
Knowing About Political Parties in Singapore
At this point, you’ve probably already forgotten most of this article.
But it’s important to know everything there is to know about the political parties in Singapore contesting in the 2020 GE so you can make an informed decision.
As I said, having a competent government in place is more important than ever.
And before you go off, here’s one bonus:
Singaporeans First (SingFirst) (Dissolved)
Tan is a scholar, former civil servant, former presidential candidate and an Oxford alumnus.
One of SingFirst most notable objectives is their aim to abolish the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and increase social spending.
Yes, there’s a party in Singapore that not only wants to put a halt to GST hikes, but do away the tax altogether.
GST and COE, that is.
Before the 2015 GE, SingFirst said they intend to abolish the current system of certificates of entitlement for vehicle ownership, and implement a minimum wage.
SingFirst says it’s netither left or right wing, but rather a “party of the centre.”
“Singaporeans First takes the best of the left and right namely, a strong social safety net and a low tax regime.”
The party, however, has since been dissolved. Tan posted this on Facebook on 25 June 2020: