SINGAPORE (Reuters) – The leader of Singapore’s only elected opposition party said there is a real risk it could lose all its seats as the city-state prepares for an election in the coming years.
Singapore’s ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) has governed the global financial hub since its independence over half a century ago, never seen its vote share drop below 60 percent and currently holds all but six of 89 elected seats in parliament.
Singapore is due to hold its next national ballot by early 2021, but analysts and political watchers say it could come as soon as this year.
“Let us never forget that we only have a toe-hold in parliament… The risk of a wipe-out with no elected opposition represented by the Worker’s Party is a real one,” Pritam Singh, the party’s secretary general, said at an annual members’ forum on Sunday.
Singh said the party’s aim should be to contest and win a third of the seats in parliament but that this was a “high bar” given an “uneven” political playing field with the PAP.
A spokesman for the PAP did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Singh added he hoped for a credible opposition to change the political landscape to one “which is caring and confident about the future, not one that is framed by libel suit after libel suit against one’s opponents, be they in politics or civil society.”
Three of the Worker’s Party leadership, including Singh, are fighting civil lawsuits related to alleged financial mismanagement in town councils. The suits could result in bankruptcy which would see them lose their seats.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong – son of the city-state’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew – filed a defamation suit last month against a financial adviser and blogger who shared an article on his Facebook page about Lee and Malaysia’s 1MDB state fund.
Reporting by John Geddie; Editing by Nick Macfie