As One United People (Part 2)

Let me preface this (once again) with the Singapore Pledge (English version):

“We, the citizens of Singapore, pledge ourselves as one united people, regardless of race, language or religion, to build a democratic society, based on justice and equality, so as to achieve happiness, prosperity and progress for our nation.”

I have listed 10 points here from “Liberalizing Electoral Outcomes in Competitive Authoritarian Regimes,” an article by academic professors Marc Morjé Howard and Philip G. Roessler.

Simplified Version: Part 1 | Part 2 (this post)

Excerpts Version: Part 1 | Part 2

Original PDF: Link

Part 1 refers to Singapore’s political situation. Part 2 offers a solution.

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PART 2: A Solution

1. Forming an Opposition Coalition has its purposes. The more divided the opposition parties, the more susceptible they are to governmental manipulation, co-optation, and repression. 

2. A quick definition of a couple of words (by The Free Dictionary):

i. Co-opt: To assimilate or win over into a larger group.

i. Coalition: An alliance or union between groups, factions, or parties, especially for a temporary and specific reason

3. What is important is the ability of opposition leaders to work together, in order to form a strategic coalition (whether formal or informal) for the specific goal of winning an election.

4. An opposition coalition can do the following:

  • Take votes away from the ruling regime.
  • Prevent incumbents from playing opposition parties and leaders against each other.
  • Mobilize people to vote against the ruling party, as people have a sense that change is possible.
  • Mount a credible challenge to the ruling party, since the authoritarian henchmen could face recriminations for their actions if the opposition wins.

5. An economic crisis undermines support for an authoritarian regime, divides the ruling elites, and creates opportunities for the opposition to mobilize.

6. [This analysis suggests that] the opposition and its ability to put aside differences and form a coalition, is likely to have a greater effect than waiting for the current ruler to resign or for the political system to open up sufficiently.

NOTE: Figure 2 below shows the statistical analysis (refer to Part 1 for a definition of “Liberalizing Electoral Outcome.”)


7. Kenya’s 2002 election is an illustration of a “liberalizing electoral outcome.” The opposition parties were able to [work] as a cohesive political force, and ally with a younger generation of [politicians], who were not afraid to challenge [the incumbent].

8. [cont. from Kenya case study]: With this degree of coordination, the coalition positioned itself to exploit the electorate’s antipathy to the Moi regime and channel votes to one opposition presidential candidate.

9. The case of Zimbabwe 2002 reminds us that the relationship between an opposition coalition and a liberalizing electoral outcome is probabilistic.

10. The achievement of an opposition coalition, even if it dissolves later, will likely remain as a pivotal historical moment, an inspiration to future opposition movements in that country and elsewhere.

Reference: “Liberalizing Electoral Outcomes in Competitive Authoritarian Regimes,” by Marc Morjé Howard and Philip G. Roessler (2006)

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1) “Mr Low Thia Khiang should heed the famous saying: Unity is Strength (团結就是力量) if he wants to fulfill the opposition historical role of annihilating the PAP as the ultimate objective.”
( — Mr. Yoong / Singapore Recalcitrant, 24 Jan 2013)

2) Opposition unity in Singapore will only be possible if all the opposition leaders are “prepared to be honest [and] do what is expected of them by fighting for real change.”
( — Gopalan Nair / Singapore Dissident, 13 April 2010)

3) “Only with unity and equality, and justice and fairness, can we see Singapore move towards a brighter possibility, and this also requires Singaporeans to let go of the fear that the idea of Lee Kuan Yew has created, and to be willing to restart our engagement with our country.”
( — Roy Ngerng / TheHeartTruths, 20 March 2015)

4) An interesting page on “unity” from Page 57 of a Chinese Idioms book (collected by Qin Xue Herzberg and Larry Herzberg; also posted on my Instagram).


i. “Only when the group prospers, be it the family, the community, or the entire society, can the individual prosper.”

ii. “A single thread cannot make a cord; a lone tree cannot make a forest.”


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Part 1 refers to the situation. Part 2 offers a solution.

Simplified Version: Part 1 | Part 2 (this post)

Excerpts Version: Part 1 | Part 2

Original PDF: Link

Singapore Pledge image at top of post from SG Newspaper.