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Is the Prime Minister being outfoxed by his brother and Dr Tan Cheng Bock?

On the day that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announces that a “substantial” Merdeka Generation Package is on the way, his brother Lee Hsien Yang and Dr Tan Cheng Bock have breakfast at Ang Mo Kio.

While one comes out to buy votes, the other side keeps everyone guessing and speculating.

If this is a chess match, Dr Tan and LHY are ahead.

If this is about stealing the thunder, Dr Tan and LHY also have the edge.

What are they up to? Are they forming an alliance? Why are they having a dalliance at Ang Mo Kio?

By not uttering a word, Dr Tan and LHY give nothing away while building up suspense, intrigue and mystery. And they get tons of free publicity.

PM Lee, by harping on a “substantial” Merdeka Generation Package and paying homage to those born in the 1950s, well, that’s as good as giving everything away: it’s a blatant exercise in vote buying.

It makes what the Prime Minister doesn’t talk about even more glaring – like the latest training death of actor Aloysius Pang, like the HIV registry leak and why it took the Health Ministry more than two years to go public, like the cries of the people about their Central Provident Funds.

As leader of the country, the Prime Minister cannot pick and choose. He has to address systemic failures and painful and disturbing issues – not just feel-good matters that can win votes.

Has the Prime Minister become too entrenched in his comfort zone?

Does he just want to coast along, make nice speeches and announce goodies while leaving it to others clean up the mess?

The problem is, if he is not taking ownership of any mess, neither is anyone else.