“It is in the nature of developed societies that citizens will demand greater political pluralism and more political space for their views to be heard, if not considered, in the formulation and implementation of government policies. Lest we forget, even in this “Lion City”, weaker beings and those with conscience have their own ways of demonstrating their frustrations and anger: creating their own private spaces and ignoring the exhortations of the PAP State, refusing to get involved in grassroots organizations or support national campaigns; indulging in cynical talk about the regime’s policies, however well intended; and of course, if things do not work out, migrating to greener pastures. At a time when talent is so precious for Singapore’s survival amidst an intensely competitive world, such citizenship traits do not abode well for this country.”
-- Excerpt from Hussin Mutalib’s Parties and Politics, A Study of Opposition Parties and the PAP in Singapore (2nd ed., pg. 399).
Based on exhaustive searches through primary sources (such as archival materials about Singaporean political parties), personal interviews with many political leaders, past and present, A/P Hussin's work is a comprehensive, analytical academic study on the political environment of Singapore – a unique attempt in the history of local publication.
Financially supported by a FASS research grant, the project took a painstaking 5 years to complete, and was finally published in 2003, under the title Parties and Politics: A study of Opposition Parties in Singapore. It has now gone into its second edition in 2004, and has been made a standard text in some universities.
With patience and perseverance in scholarship and authorship, this pioneering work features some bold and intellectually challenging ideas about the nature, role and influence of Opposition in Singapore. The value of this study is that although its primary focus is on the Opposition parties, its observations and analyses add depth and new meanings to our understanding of the PAP itself – both as a political party and as the Government - in ways that are not often discussed in other writings about Singapore Politics.
The book hence represents an objective and bold venture in analyzing Singapore Politics that is hoped to offer to its readers, both in Singapore and beyond, some insights about the dynamics and intricacies of the Republic's political parties today and the probable scenarios that awaits their political destiny.
The difficulties and challenges that were encountered in conducting the research were plenty, especially since this was a first-ever attempt to write a comprehensive book on Opposition parties this Republic, and the topic can be considered sensitive. With some tact and care, and the eagerness to produce a book whose academic and intellectual qualities will not be compromised, A/P Hussin was able to finally produce a work which is hoped to stand the test of time. In the process of the research, he managed to conduct interviews with many key political leaders, both from the PAP side and the Opposition. Some of these Opposition leaders include those who have since passed away, such as David Marshall, Lim Chin Siong and Lee Siew Choh. Founder leaders of the PAP (such as Toh Chin Chye, Sinnathamby Rajaratnam, Goh Keng Swee, and Samad Ismail), were interviewed, with the unfortunate exception of Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, who was unwell then for the interview.