By Augustine Low
The consensus is that the PAP government has been dealt a major blow. But in one sense, it could be argued that the Malaysians have actually gifted a favour to the People's Action Party.
The toppling of Barisan Nasional after 61 years in power has certainly woken the PAP up big time.
Prior to the shock election results, the PAP was seeping into a state of we-know-it-all complacency and omnipotence. Its stance was that Singaporeans should place unconditional trust in the government. Critics were being belittled (think Thum Ping Tjin) and the Opposition being intimidated (think Sylvia Lim) and even laughed at (Low Thia Khiang when he said in Parliament that the GST hike would be debated at the next elections).
But the Malaysian government got swept aside, and lo and behold, the PAP started playing a totally different tune.
Last week, in Parliament, the likes of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Chan Chun Sing and Heng Swee Keat were communicating in ever so soft and measured and cordial tones:
- heaping praise on Low Thia Khiang for his contributions to Singapore
- welcoming the Workers Party to play a role in Singapore’s political landscape
- promising that 4G leaders would listen with humility and respect
- assuring Singaporeans that they are free to disagree with the government
- imploring Singaporeans to put the interests of the country first
Overnight, the PAP went from being the odious wife to wanton mistress going out of its way to please and beguile.
The mother of all elections has given the PAP the mother of all wake-up calls.
So what happens, now that the PAP will try and wantonly go on the charm offensive and play it nice and smooth and easy?
Plenty of Singaporeans, I think, can be easily seduced by whispers, sweet nothings and niceties. Their first instinct is to not rock the boat, to give the benefit of the doubt and take the path of least resistance.
So people who keep talking about a Singapore electoral tsunami may be getting ahead of themselves.
While the PAP has challenges to contend with, not least having to deal with a different agenda of the Dr Mahathir Mohamad government, the big wake-up call has come in time for it to put on sheep’s clothing.
Will Singaporeans be able to see through the sheep’s clothing?
Augustine Low is a proud but concerned citizen. Voicing independent, unplugged opinion is his contribution to citizen engagement.