What has chicken feathers got to do with the People’s Action Party?
We have to go back to a famous quote by fascist poster boy Benito Mussolini: “If you pluck a chicken one feather at a time, nobody notices.”
His analogy spoke to the fact that a leader or government could consolidate power feather by feather without the people realising it or making a fuss about it.
The current legal woes surrounding the Workers’ Party is yet another feather being plucked. One step, one move at a time, the wind is knocked out of the Opposition.
We can go back decades, to Operation Coldstore, a topic that landed historian, Thum Ping Tjin in a bit of bother. In plucking one feather, whether justified or unjustified, the Opposition was practically decimated. It was the forerunner to many other instances of the Internal Security Act being used to extraordinary effect.
Defamation lawsuits also became de riguer – one feather at a time, one outspoken critic after another has been nullified. In the words of Amnesty International, the “disproportionate use of civil defamation suits by the government has had a chilling effect on Singapore’s political life.”
Signs of the Opposition gaining ground? No problem – let’s introduce the Group Representation Constituency (GRC) system to make it more formidable for them.
That’s one big feather being plucked from right under the noses of Singaporeans.
More recently, the very real possibility of a non-establishment candidate winning the Elected Presidency had to be curtailed at any cost. Hence the shenanigans of the Reserved Elected Presidency, a feather plucking feat which put paid to the hopes of Dr Tan Cheng Bock.
When the Workers’ Party had the audacity to capture a GRC, a lesson had to be taught: No political party (except for the PAP) has what it takes to competently run a GRC. The town council saga has spectacularly (some would say predictably) culminated in the current legal woes of the WP.
When all the feathers are plucked, and we have a bald chicken, what is the result? Do the people care, do they know any better?