AMERICAN JOURNAL OF QUALITATIVE RESEARCH
The Stagnation, fall and rise of Singapore’s Political Opposition, 1996-2013

Kieran James 1 *

AM J QUALITATIVE RES, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp. 37-56

https://doi.org/10.29333/ajqr/5810

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Abstract

Drawing upon personal interviews, I present the opinions of leading Singaporean opposition politicians and activists about developments and issues in Singapore politics covering the period 1996-2013, which I characterise as a period of stagnation, fall and rise for the opposition. The purpose of the article is to explore and understand the history of Singapore’s opposition, as experienced and told by participants in the drama. I attended opposition social functions in order to understand more about the movement and to gain access to study participants whom I then interviewed, mostly on a one-on-one basis. The sampling method used can best be described as snowball sampling, working in conjunction with convenience sampling. My aim was to interview people of a mix of genders, ages, party affiliations, and politician-versus-activist status. Most of the interviews with my 24 interviewees were conducted over the period March 2010 to October 2011. My interview results show that the Singapore opposition activist community, while small outside of election campaigns during this era (probably numbering no more than fifty), was passionate and committed to taking the city-state away from what its members perceived to be the authoritarian pathway set up by the ruling regime. The Workers’ Party’s (WP) rapid rise from obscurity to become Singapore’s second-strongest political force over the 2006-13 period surprised many commentators. The WP’s ability to secure high vote percentages and even win seats based on brand factor alone (or primarily) was an important new development.

Keywords: Grassroots Activism, Internet Activism, Singapore Opposition Parties; Singapore Political History, Singapore Politics

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