Painting the party into a corner

Painting the party into a corner

By Philip Ang

I refer to PM Lee’s statement on Aljuneid-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council cleaning incident.

Having raised the stakes too high in Parliament, the People’s Action Party (PAP) appears to have painted itself into a corner.

From a cleaning issue, it became one of integrity and now, its about good politics? When will this circus end? Has Parliament not already wasted 36 minutes of taxpayers’ money?

The longer the PAP tries to salvage whatever is left of its image, the more comments it will invite from netizens, mostly negative ones.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong says we have honest, upright people in politics who can be trusted to uphold the public interest and to admit mistakes when things go wrong.

Question: Was public interest even a consideration when Parliament rammed through the Population White Paper?Is overcrowded public transport in our interest?When MND minister screwed up year after year with Singaporeans now having to pay sky high prices for public housing, did we hear our minister admitting his repeated mistakes, and apologising, or simply repeatedly telling us there would be enough land?

A list of instances of PAP admitting to mistakes should be provided to back PM Lee’s claim because there have been extremely few in Singaporeans’ collective memory.

PM Lee then made some motherhood statements on trust and speculated on Singaporeans’ expectations in politics.

He further went on to say what he would have done, insinuating that the opposition should have done likewise. From cleaning, to integrity, to good politics and the issue keeps evolving into who-knows-what.

The mistake in this case is Minister Vivian Balakrishnan’s when he waived his Parliamentary privilege. He upped the stakes too high and it appears there is no way of turning back the clock, dragging his boss PM Lee into the fray. Resorting to legal means is really old school and would have worked in the pre-internet era. Presently, most Singaporeans view this as a bullying tactic.

The WP has the right to disagree with the ‘evidence’ as the dossier was compiled by the PAP. The PAP has a track record of selective amnesia or cherry picking to bolster their argument eg public housing affordability (highlighting the one or two cases), healthcare affordability ($8 for a major operation) etc.

Minister Balakrishnan insisted on a ‘yes or no’ answer from Sylvia Lim in Parliament, essentially calling her a liar but without realising that he had put himself on a pedestal about to collapse. Let’s not forget the PAP has been evasive on a host of questions raised in Parliament, answers which are important to Singaporeans. This is not good politics as far as many are concerned.

The court of public opinion decides whether it is detrimental for Mr Low Thia Kiang to “leave these grave doubts about the integrity of his fellow MPs unresolved”. PM Lee does not decide what sort of politics Singapore needs. This is also decided by well educated Singaporeans, not the PAP, WP or any political party.

When 60 per cent voters receive 90 per cent Parliamentary representation, PM Lee’s definition of our First World Parliament really stretches the imagination.
Just like the extremely vague MDA licensing scheme, ‘good politics’ is also subjective and without any clear definition.

Good politics to many would mean addressing NEA’s failure in preparing for the haze crisis, finding a long term solution for frequent train breakdowns, according respect to the elderly by finding them alternative employment instead of doing mainly cleaning work, etc.

Reframing a cleaning issue into one of integrity or something else certainly isn’t. The definition of this is wasting everybody’s time.

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