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Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong where he infamously said, "...I have to spend all my time – thinking what is the right way to fix them (opposition)."

Do Singaporeans have to accept that politics is dirty business?

 “But this is politics!”

Very often, this is the retort from people – especially supporters of the People’s Action Party – in dismissing manoeuvrings and manipulations that go on in this country.

Let’s take the Aljunied-Hougang town council saga culminating in the Workers’ Party town councillors being embroiled in an ongoing legal battle and potentially being made bankrupt and losing their Parliamentary seats. There are those who declare with a dismissive wave of the hand, “But this is politics!”

The same thing happened with gerrymandering (redrawing of electoral boundaries) or with shenanigans that led to Halimah Yacob ascending to the presidency.  Again, the expected retort was “But this is politics!”

If we accept this at face value, it essentially means that politics is dirty business and politicians are underhanded people.

The PAP has talked time and again about building and keeping trust with Singaporeans. In the words of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong: “The PAP earned the people’s trust the hard way, and we must never take it for granted or fritter it away.”

But if we are to accept and acknowledge that the instinct of politicians is to do whatever it takes to protect their turf and shore up power, how then can we have blind trust and faith in them?

How can we be confident that they are doing what’s right for Singaporeans, that they put the people first and not the party first?

How can we be sure that they are not taking pains to fix the Opposition instead of solving the country problems?

The next time somebody says “But this is politics!” do not let it rest there. Ask them what they really mean.

If our reading is correct, they mean that politics is a dirty game and politicians are expected (even entitled) to be nasty and underhanded.

Surely we can do better as a country and not have to settle for such a notion.