Two books on elections in Singapore – one in English by former People’s Action Party MP Chiang Hai Ding and the other in Chinese by former political detainee Chua Yoke Lim – have hit the bookstores ahead of the next general election.
Dr Chiang said his book, Elections In Singapore 1948-2011, is “a mini-history of Singapore from the viewpoint of elections”. It concludes with a section assessing voters’ expectations and the challenges which the PAP and the opposition will face in the next GE.
Mr Chua’s book, How GE Changes Singapore, is an analysis of the “new normal” in Singapore’s politics since the 2011 GE and how the PAP and the opposition should respond to changes as they vie for votes in the coming polls.
Dr Chiang, 77, now an active volunteer with several seniors’ groups, said his 80-page book was originally a background piece he wrote to 25 autobiographical essays by former PAP MPs, including himself, in the book, We Also Served, published last year.
“But it was not used in the end, and I put it together in a book now with photographs of key figures from Singapore’s modern history as well as events such as the 1964 racial riots,” said Dr Chiang, the MP for Ulu Pandan from 1970 to 1984.
How GE Changes Singapore is by former detainee Chua Yoke Lim, while Elections In Singapore (above) is by former PAP MP Chiang Hai Ding.
In the preface to his book, he wrote: “For too long Singapore has been misrepresented as a one-party State when in fact it had a one-party Parliament for the first 16 years. Singapore has had a plethora of political parties, though only two go back further than 50 years.”
Dr Chiang told The Straits Times: “The book is timely because it can provide voters with good political background, which includes reasons for the formation of group representation constituencies, facts and figures of previous elections before they go to the polls.”
Mr Chua, 71, a freelance writer and political commentator, wrote his 126-page book to provide useful information ahead of the coming elections as well.
The Malaysia-born former member of the Malayan National Liberation Front, the armed wing of the Malayan Communist Party, was arrested in 1974, a year after he moved here to run Communist activities. But he later joined the Internal Security Department (ISD) as a research officer till 1992. He then went into business, but returned to the ISD briefly 10 years ago.
He started contributing commentaries on political issues in Singapore to Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao just a month before the May 2011 GE. “That was when I heard more opposing voices, many against government policies, emerging both in the mainstream and social media,” said Mr Chua, who became a Singapore citizen in 1987 and has worked briefly as a building contractor, chicken rice seller and taxi driver.
He has contributed more than 70 commentaries, 43 of them published in his first book of essays in June 2013. His second volume on Singapore politics, titled Lee Kuan Yew’s Era Versus Post Lee Kuan Yew’s Era, was published in April .
In his latest book, Mr Chua said the coming polls would be a tough battle for the PAP. He said “voters may respect and be thankful for what he (Mr Lee Kuan Yew) had done for Singapore but not necessarily agree with the policies of the present generation of PAP leaders”.
• Elections In Singapore and How GE Changes Singapore are available at bookstores at $14 and $13 respectively, before GST.