The First Wave: JBJ, Chiam & the Opposition in Singapore
Based on extensive interviews and archival material, The First Wave tells the story of the opposition in Singapore in its critical first thirty years in Parliament.
Democratisation has been described to occur in waves. The first wave of a democratic awakening in post-independence Singapore began with J. B. Jeyaretnam’s victory in the Anson by-election of 1981. That built up to the 1984 general election, the first of many to be called a “watershed”, in which Chiam See Tong was also elected in Potong Pasir. After their successes in 1991, the opposition began dreaming of forming the government.
But their euphoria was short-lived. Serious fault lines in the leading Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) rose to the surface almost immediately after the opposition victories of 1991, and the party was wiped out of Parliament by 1997. The opposition spent the next decade experimenting with coalition arrangements, to work their way back to victory.