PAP Infighting

A few days ago, Lee Kuan Yew (not MM as he is without appointment in this period as parliament has dissolved) threatened that Aljunied voters would have to regret and repent if they let that GRC fall into WP hands. George Yeo, must have felt frustrated that the old man was more harm than help.

In the main battle of this GE,  George Yeo’s political careeer is in jeopardy as he faces a tough tight WP team. The debate has been predictable, boths sides threatening voters that Aljunied might turn into a slum if they vote WP or Aljunied would be blamed for the loss of a good opposition leader if they vote PAP.

Then Goh Chok Tong suddenly pushed Wong Kan Seng to the front. The latest twist is that the former PM  implied that Wong Kan Seng is not a core member in parliament and that he rather the former Home Affairs minister go than George Yeo. The pressure on George Yeo’s GRC would not be lessen by Goh’s observation. However, Wong Kan Seng would feel more pressure on his GRC from SPP. Rather than making things better for the PAP overall, Goh has made it worse. What the former PM has done is now open a new front in Bishan-Toa Payoh and gave SPP an extra edge.

Why did Goh say that? Probably because the PAP is a party that has internal factions, which is expected for an organisation so huge and so political. What we want to know who is standing with who within the PAP now.

George Yeo too important for Cabinet to lose: SM Goh
04:46 AM May 03, 2011
by Ian De Cotta

SINGAPORE – Foreign Minister George Yeo, who is facing a fierce challenge from the Workers’ Party in the Aljunied Group Representation Constituency (GRC), has been described as “too important a person for the Cabinet to lose” by Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong.

Singling out Mr Yeo as one of three “very important” core members in the Cabinet – the others being Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean – Mr Goh said yesterday: “There are other core members but these are the three core members who will be very important … (Finance Minister) Tharman (Shanmugaratnam) is too new but will be developed into a core member.”

Speaking after a walkabout in Marine Parade GRC, Mr Goh said a member of the Prime Minister’s core team is picked not only based on the portfolio the minister heads but also his intelligence, competence, ability to deliver results and someone whose judgment can be trusted.

“I’ve run a Government and I know you need a core team. A core team is four or five people, other ministers are important, but you need a core team,” said Mr Goh. “If you lose George Yeo, I think it is a very big loss (for the Cabinet), and to Singapore.”

Elaborating, Mr Goh said the Foreign Minister has played a critical role in the Prime Minister’s team to formulate and implement policies, and will not be easily replaced in the short term if his team loses in the Aljunied GRC.

Said Mr Goh: “If one GRC is lost, as Minister Mentor (Lee Kuan Yew) said, we can accept the result – I agree with that. Sooner or later we are going to lose one. But my view if we lose Aljunied, that is a different matter.”

With Mr Yeo in the middle of negotiating “very delicate agreements” with Indonesia and Malaysia, the loss will even be more telling for Singapore.

Summing up, Mr Goh said: “What mistake has he made? You can take a minister and criticise him for not delivering on perhaps housing and transport.

“Like Wong Kan Seng you can say he let Mas Selamat escape. George Yeo, what has he done to deserve this? And he is a core member.”

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Mixed Feelings – By-Election Effect, Fear, Frustration and Change in Aljunied

Aljunied is the big fight, a grudge match to be exact since WP and PAP want to do better than the 43.91% and 56.09% respectively in 2006. The WP now is a stronger team than in 2006 Low Thia Khiang risking all to come over because of while the PAP team still has the 3 big names, George Yeo, Lim Hwee Hua and Zainul Abidin Rasheed. I left out Chen Show Mao as he is a product of media hype who just returned and joined politics, just like the PAP candidates like the SAF generals who appeared out of nowhere and similarly built up by media hype around their so-called qualifications.

First World Parliament, co-drivers, the WP admitting that it is not ready to form the government, all rhetoric for non-Aljunied voters. Property prices dropping because of delayed upgrading once Aljunied falls into WP hands and better infrastructure in the estate if it remains in PAP control and the pressure on them to vote opposition while the rest of Singapore can vote PAP is what Aljunied voters might fear and be frustrated about, something that the PAP is trying desperately to leverage on. Aljunied voters have the fate of Singapore’s opposition on their shoulders because of the Not In My Backyard syndrome of the other SMC and GRC voters stuck in the Singaporean kiasi psyche.

George Yeo is an unfortunate victim of politics. He is not the minister overseeing housing, CPF, transport, employment, immigration, national service, taxes i.e. issues which irked Singaporeans. He is instead the chink in the PAP’s armour purely based on political geography of 2006 and proximity to Hougang. That’s politics and too bad for him. Singapore might lose a foreign minister but looking at things, the PAP will probably dominate parliament and the next foreign minister would be a PAP man still as everyone else in Singapore would vote for PAP as they presume Aljunied would vote for WP. Reviewing the mood so far, the PAP might lose this time.

Why would the PAP lose? Low Thia Khiang is finally risking all by daring to stand shoulder to shoulder this time with Sylvia Lim in Aljunied. The latter was to establish a beachhead in 2006 and the time is ripe for a GRC takeover attempt in WP’s view. Looking at his brand name, WP’s excellent track record however limited it is in parliament, the Low Thia Khiang and Sylvia Low team look solid. Especially when the PAP makes dark threats that Aljunied voters would live to regret it if they vote opposition. This type of ultimatum to force Aljunied’s choice is going to backfire on the PAP.

So far the WP thrust is on a First World Parliament but really as they don’t intend to form a shadow cabinet, their talk of First World Parliament is mostly empty, but catchy. What WP is extremely strong in is however their proposals on healthcare, housing, a social safety net etc. besides rightly self-absorbed municipal concerns which Aljunied residents might be more interested in. The PAP is drawing WP in a debate on First World Parliament and the WP appears to be sucked into that debate which works well for the rest of Singapore, but probably less so for Aljunied voters. WP stands on the high ground so far striking a chord with the rest of Singapore, but Aljunied might feel different about it. Or they might not and actually back the First World Parliament dream and live with the trade-off of being in an opposition ward. The hustings are not over yet though.