Politics in Opposition Politics
The Reform Party is in a tailspin. With between 9 and 20 members who walked out over personal or political differences, questions abound on the leadership of the Reform Party, whether it’s GRC-snatching capability is seriously blunted as the election is very soon and generally why the opposition just cannot stick together. Disappointment and criticism over how Kenneth Jeyaretnam behaved over the mass resignation was acute in some quarters.
Nobody brought up that there is karma at play here. Last May, Kenneth Jeyaretnam and the Reform Party almost politically kneecapped the SDA and its long time figurehead, Chiam See Tong. The Potong Pasir icon planned to merge with the Reform Party but as the SDA CEC was not consulted, there was tension within SDA. Kenneth Jeyaretnam’s demands for an alliance with Chiam were leaked supposedly by disgruntled SDA members upset with Reform Party’s aggressive intentions. In hindsight, perhaps some members of Reform Party were also displeased with the proposed Reform Party-Chiam alliance and the leak might have come from within Reform Party even. That political drama showed that the Reform Party had the teeth to eat its way up the food chain. Now however, the Reform Party experienced its own karmic intra-party tension.
Changes in party allegiance and splinter groups within the opposition are not uncommon. Recent flag-changing was Goh Meng Seng who left the WP to join NSP. Around that time, Chia Ti Lik also left the WP, eventually to form the Socialist Front in 2010. For the Reform Party, this is the second and more serious party crack because its key GE candidates who exited, Tony Tan and his wife Hazel Poa, were both announced with much fanfare in early 2010 on as they were former government scholars and a good catch for the Reform Party. The first crack in JBJ’s legacy was in 2009 when Ng Teck Siong, one of the pioneers of Reform Party, was shown the door. In retrospect, political pundits could have perhaps seen it as a sign of Kenneth Jeyaretnam’s leadership to come.
Whichever way this Reform Party crisis turns out, it is not the end of opposition politics and a lost chance for political change when the general election arrives soon. The splinter group from the Reform Party is likely to join another party willing to accept them, and there are some other parties out there worth our vote of confidence.