In an open interview with ASEAN journalists, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that there is no difference in the number of Opposition members in “Singapore-style” democracy. PM Lee instead emphasized on the quality of the discussions in Parliament, and he believe that a good Opposition is one that offers real alternatives to Singaporeans and then debates on the choices Singapore has to take.

“If they do that, whether they have one member, whether they have ten members, they are good opposition. If they don’t do that, you may have 20, 30 members, you are not being responsible. So, I would not go on the numbers. I would go on the substance of the debate.”

The Prime Minister however in this instance, has chosen to use a straw man fallacy. PM Lee’s argument revolves around having quality discussions in Parliament, and that the number of Opposition MPs do not matter. The same can be said about the number of PAP MPs. In another word, PM Lee is also saying the number of PAP MPs do not matter so long there are quality discussions.

Photo by Ministry of Communications and Information
Photo by Ministry of Communications and Information

We can also further build on PM Lee’s emphasis on having quality discussions and debating the hard choices in this case. How about having less PAP MPs? What about the reality of having a non-PAP government where quality discussions flourishes and choices more heavily weighed and expanded?

Although PM Lee is subtly trying to tell Singaporeans that the number of Opposition MPs do not matter, it appears that he has smashed the brick on his own toes here because it impresses on Singaporeans that the number of PAP MPs did not matter either.