Workers' Party (Singapore)

Workers' Party
Malay nameParti Pekerja
Chinese name工人党
Gōngrén Dǎng
Tamil nameபாட்டாளிக் கட்சி
Pāṭṭāḷik Kaṭci
ChairpersonSylvia Lim
Secretary-GeneralPritam Singh
FounderDavid Marshall
Founded3 November 1957 (1957-11-03)
Preceded byLabour Front
Headquarters701 Geylang Rd
Singapore 389687
Youth wingWorkers' Party Youth Wing
Political positionCentre-left
Colours  Light Blue
SloganMake Your Vote Count
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The Workers' Party (abbreviation: WP) is a major centre-left political party in Singapore and is one of the three contemporary political parties represented in Parliament, alongside the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) and the opposition Progress Singapore Party (PSP). It is currently the largest opposition party in Parliament. It is also one of the oldest parties active in the country, having contested every parliamentary election since 1959.[3] The WP is the only political party other than the ruling PAP with elected constituency MPs in Parliament since the 2011 general election.

The party's guiding principles advocates democratic socialism and social democracy. The WP was founded in 1957 by David Marshall, having previously led the left-wing Labour Front to victory in Singapore's first legislative assembly elections in 1955, forming a minority government and becoming the first Chief Minister of Singapore. He resigned as leader in 1956 after his delegation to London to negotiate for complete home rule and eventual independence initially failed and resigned his seat in 1957. Marshall returned as the first WP representative in the legislative assembly as the member for Anson in 1961.[4]

The party had thereafter declined in prominence during the 1960s and 1970s shortly after independence before its re-emergence in 1981, when then party leader Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam became the first opposition Member of Parliament (MP) to be elected since Singapore's independence in 1965, having surprisingly defeated the candidate of the governing PAP at a by-election in Marshall's former constituency of Anson. He was re-elected at the 1984 general election, but subsequently lost his seat in Parliament in 1986 following a conviction for falsely accounting the party's funds, a conviction Jeyaretnam claimed was politically motivated. Prominent former members of the WP also include former Law Society President Francis Seow as well as socialist Lee Siew Choh.[5]

Since the 1991 general election, the party's safe seat has been the constituency of Hougang, which was represented by Low Thia Khiang for two decades. The popularity of the party in Hougang has been attributed to the area's Teochew heritage and Low's personal affability.[6] Low moved to the constituency of Aljunied for the 2011 general election where he led the first team from an opposition party to win a group representation constituency (GRC), with the WP becoming the first Singaporean opposition political party to win two adjacent constituencies and to elect the first female opposition MP.[7] In 2012, the then-Speaker of Parliament and incumbent PAP MP for the constituency of Punggol East, Michael Palmer, had resigned from his seat due to an extra-marital affair, triggering a by-election.[8] The WP candidate, Lee Li Lian, who stood in the same constituency in 2011, was chosen to represent the party once again and was subsequently elected to become the first woman in Singaporean history to win a by-election.[9] In the 2020 general election, the WP become the first opposition party to win multiple GRCs in a single general election. Sengkang GRC MP Raeesah Khan became the youngest MP and the first female minority opposition candidate elected into Parliament.

Positioning itself as a "check and balance" in Parliament while being on the centre-left of Singaporean politics, the WP is ideologically social democratic. It supports a progressive approach to civic nationalism, reducing the voting age from 21 to 18 in line with most other established democracies, expanding the minimum wage policies to cover all sectors as well as providing more flexibility in regards to the Central Provident Fund.[10] In recent years, members of the WP have worn light blue uniforms during political campaigning to represent the party's links to blue-collar workers.

  1. ^ Diane K. Mauzy; R.S. Milne (2002). Singapore Politics Under the People's Action Party. Routledge. p. 147. ISBN 0-415-24653-9.
  2. ^ a b "Our Constitution — The Workers' Party". Workers' Party of Singapore. Archived from the original on 8 June 2020. Retrieved 8 June 2020.
  3. ^ "Singapore GE2020: The Workers' Party team that won Sengkang GRC". The Straits Times. Archived from the original on 30 July 2020. Retrieved 4 August 2020.
  4. ^ "Country studies: Singapore: Road to Independence". U.S. Library of Congress. Archived from the original on 21 October 2018. Retrieved 16 May 2020.
  5. ^ "Francis Seow of the Workers' Party almost beat the PAP in the battle for Eunos". Retrieved 30 May 2021.
  6. ^ Tan, Audrey (9 July 2020). "WP's Low Thia Khiang delivers trademark Teochew speech in video". The New Paper. Retrieved 30 May 2021.
  7. ^ "The Big Read: After the high of GE2011, a reality check for the Workers' Party". TODAYonline. Retrieved 30 May 2021.
  8. ^ Tan, Judith (15 December 2012). "SMSes expose Michael Palmer's affair". AsiaOne. Archived from the original on 18 December 2012. Retrieved 22 May 2013.
  9. ^ "WP's Lee Li Lian takes Punggol East by decisive margin". Yahoo! Singapore News. Archived from the original on 29 January 2013. Retrieved 22 May 2013.
  10. ^ "Make Your Vote Count; Our Manifesto". Workers' Party (Singapore). 2020. Archived from the original on 29 June 2020. Retrieved 7 July 2020.

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