It started in May with the Malaysian tsunami. The fall of Barisan Nasional after almost 60 years in power sent shockwaves which reverberated across the causeway.
It uplifted Malaysians and gave Singaporeans renewed hope and expectancy. Will there be a domino effect precipitating a Singapore tsunami?
It must have scared the hell out of the People’s Action Party because they suddenly started heaping praise on the Opposition and promising to listen to the people with respect and humility.
Around this time, there was stepped-up publicity on HDB flat owners who could not find buyers for their ageing homes or had to sell low. The reality hit home: far from being a dependable retirement asset, HBD flats would depreciate in value as the leases get shorter.
The issue has snowballed – doubts and questions are now raised on whether people actually own their flats or are merely tenants. Next, it could be whether HDB flats are in fact subsidised. Once the HDB story starts unravelling, who knows where it leads to? This is one headache that could turn into a tumour for the PAP.
Then the month of July heralded news of a disturbing, audacious cyber attack on SingHealth, resulting in the theft of 1.5 million patients’ data, including that of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
How was it allowed to happen? How alarming is it that a foreign country directed such an attack? What are the repercussions on Singapore’s Smart Nation push?
Singaporeans do not have the full picture yet.
In early August, another bombshell! Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong’s remarks on Ministers’ pay opened a Pandora’s box on the very issue the PAP wanted to avoid like the plague. Despite million dollar salaries, it seems that money no enough!
And what cruel timing too for the PAP, because soon after that came the launch of the movie Crazy Rich Asians which became a box office hit. Ordinarily, the powers-that-be would have loved to bask in the glory of a largely made-in-Singapore movie, celebrating local talent and scenery. But alas, they could not because the movie title and theme made them mightily uncomfortable and inspired dozens of memes and metaphors – such as Crazy Rich Ministers, Crazy Rich Generals and Crazy Rich-Poor Divide.
On top of that, Kevin Kwan, writer of the book-turned-movie is a wanted man for defaulting on National Service. So he could not be celebrated as a Son of Singapore who made it on the global stage. In fact, the tables have been turned – the big question is whether the authorities erred in previously allowing a wanted man in and out of the country. Just before this, there also was the debacle on Ben Davis, whom the Ministry of Defence refused to grant a deferment to the footballer who had signed a two-year contract with newly promoted English Premier League (EPL) side Fulham.
So we have come to the end of four truly luckless and forgettable months for the PAP. Where there was success, they could not bask in it, where there were failures and missteps, they were put on the back foot.
Many believed that more than anything else, it was the wheels of karma which finally caught up with Najib Rajak and his government. If the next four months are as fateful and forbidding for the PAP, then we might have to wonder if something sinister and unstoppable is also happening here.