Lee Kuan Yew: From front seat to backdrop but at the age of 84, he is still an influential figure within the Parliament. Many have suspected he is the ultimate decision maker not the PM himself. His famous quote this year would probably be the following:
"Low salaries will draw in the hypocrites who sweet talk their way into power in the name of public service, but once in charge will show their true colour, and ruin the country." - 2007, on Minister's Pay
"You know, the cure for all this talk is really a good dose of incompetent government. You get that alternative and you'll never put Singapore together again: Humpty Dumpty cannot be put together again... and your asset values will disappear, your apartment will be worth a fraction of what it is, your jobs will be in peril, your security will be at risk and our women will become maids in other people's countries, foreign workers." - Justifying million-dollar pay hike for Singapore ministers (Straits Times, 5 April 2007)
One big question to ask: When will he be retiring from politics?
J B Jeyaretnam: Seasoned opposition politician who was MP for Anson but the slew of defamation suits brought against him by the PAP leaders crippled him financially. He managed to get out of bankruptcy this year. A long time political foe of Lee Kuan Yew. Has set up a new party, the Reform Party. Can he still give PAP a scare at 2010/2011 elections?
Chiam See Tong: Still holding on to the seat of the smallest single-member constituency, Potong Pasir. A mild, veteran politician who is frank and direct in his opinions. His consecutive victories at the General Elections have won him much respect from fellow Singaporeans. 2010/2011 Elections would probably be his final one.
Low Thia Khiang: Charismatic leader of the Workers’ Party. A Teochew and Chinese-speaking politician who recently made a promise to expand his party to become a dominant force in Singapore politics to challenge the PAP:
If we want our system of Parliamentary Democracy to be able to function properly, to allow Singaporeans real choices, and to promote good government for the next generation, seeking an opposition breakthrough in a GRC is a must.
The Workers’ Party had targeted winning GRCs since their inception in 1988, but without success. Let me assure you that we shall work toward another watershed at the next election to breakthrough a GRC!
He has been the MP for Hougang SMC since 1991 and has a huge number of supporters all over Singapore. Will he walk out of his Hougang stronghold and contest in a GRC together with Sylvia Lim and Chiam See Tong in the 2010/2011 elections?
Lee Hsien Loong: He won 66.6% national votes in his first election as PM in May 2006 and a much lower than expected 66.4% in his own turf, Ang Mo Kio GRC. He doesn’t seem to be as popular as his predecessors, Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong. Now that the opposition seems to be more organised than before, can he maintain PAP’s power grip in the next election?
Chee Soon Juan: Loudhailer, that’s what some call him. The current Singapore Democratic Party’s Secretary General earned his nick during the 2001 elections when he confronted the then PM Goh Chok Tong at a hawker centre asking for the money which was allegedly lent to Suharto. May have good intentions to bring more democracy and human rights into Singapore but most Singaporeans, who are more concerned with bread-and-butter issues, do not seem to like his confrontational style.
Tharman Shanmugaratnam: Although he had been fined S$1,000 for breaching the Official Secret Act during his tenure as Managing Director and Chief Executive at MAS in 1994, he is still a very trusted figure in the government supposedly for his ability to make “Fortress MAS” more open and flexible and Singapore to be better prepared for global shocks than other ASEAN economies. Education Minister, now Finance Minister. The next Prime Minister in the making?
Sylvia Lim: A fresh political face. High profile woman opposition politician who is the Workers’ Party’s Chairman and a current NCMP. From my participation at the various election rallies, I notice she seems to be rather popular with the young voters. Charismatic English-speaking lady who needs to brush up her Mandarin and perhaps learn the Malay language and a dialect to woo more potential voters. She led the Aljunied team at the polls against the PAP team led by heavyweight Foreign Minister George Yeo and obtained a lower than expected 43.9% votes, possibly due to the James Gomez saga. In the parliamentary debate on Ministerial Pay Hike, she opposed the hike stating:
Citizens should be able to look to leaders for moral leadership and inspiration. If what they perceive are mercenaries at the helm, then asking them to make sacrifices will be met with cynicism and indifference. This will not bode well for Singapore's future. What will happen when crunch time comes? Is this a time bomb planted for the future of Singapore?
Chee Siok Chin: One of the few woman opposition politicians. Sister of Chee Soon Juan. Teacher turned political activist. Like his brother, she is also very critical of the PAP government and its authoritative style of rule.
What's your take? Who do you think is the best politician of the year?