It was the move that no one was expecting, and understandably so.
Mr Yaw Shin Leong’s sacking from the Worker’s Party is an unparalleled move in modern Singapore’s political history.
It also has the potential to be remembered by posterity as a masterstroke, and might just allow the WP to lay claim to the image of being “whiter than white”.
Expelling a sitting Member of Parliament who has been part of the WP leadership for nearly a decade and precipitating a by-election speaks volumes more than any amount of press statements or half apologies.
The WP’s move has sent the clearest possible signal that the Party’s belief in transparency and accountability is much more than an election slogan.
TOC warned in an editorial just days ago that “the stench of silence in the face of sleaze will continue to fester”. The WP leadership, seemingly unable to get the information out of Mr Yaw that would allow it to account thoroughly to the public, moved quickly to lance the boil.
Henceforth, when the WP calls the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) to account, the WP will have a reservoir of moral authority to draw on.
With several high flying members of the civil service under investigation for potentially illegal behavior, there is probably no better time to for the WP to start using their newfound moral high ground to put the ruling Party’s feet to the fire.
The ruling Party needs to move swiftly to give a full accounting to the public of the investigations into the former SCDF and CNB heads. They now also need to address the scandal of two expatriates involved in the violent Suntec assault being allowed to waltz out of Singapore.
If the PAP is able to demonstrate the same humility, contrition and swift action the WP has displayed, they might yet level the playing field of moral authority.
But it should not be a surprise if the voters of Hougang ratify Mr Low's move with a majority for whoever the WP selects to contest in Hougang. By axing his protege whom he painstakingly cultivated through the years, Mr Low has made the ultimate sacrifice to show that no one person is more important than the Party's brand.
It will be an uphill task for the PAP to dislodge the WP in Hougang.
Finally, one unintended effect of the WP’s move is that it now turns the tables on the mainstream media (MSM).
After a thoroughly zealous and undignified hounding of Mr Yaw and pious preaching at the WP’s leadership, the MSM will now be the objects of universal disgrace if they do not demonstrate consistency in their scrutiny of all politicians and political parties. While no political party, including the PAP, has sought to exploit Mr Yaw’s public humiliation for political gain, the same cannot be said for the press.
Will the sanctimonious MSM now set its’ newfound investigative sights on the ranks of the PAP?
We’re not holding our breath.