Lawrence Wong, who will again lead the PAP team in Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC in the upcoming General Election (GE), told the media yesterday (28 Jun) that Ivan Lim did the responsible thing by withdrawing from contesting in GE.
“He recognised the controversy around his candidacy was threatening to eclipse and distract us from the serious nature and the serious issues that we have to confront during this election and during this crisis,” Wong said. “It is a very difficult and painful decision for him, but it is a responsible thing that he did.”
Even though Wong acknowledged that the character of candidates is a serious issue, he said, “We do not have any reason to believe that these allegations are true, but we do not have the time either to mount a full investigation.”
He urged people to give Ivan Lim and his family time, space and privacy to recover from the incident.
PAP suffered a surprise setback on Saturday (27 Jun) as its new candidate Ivan Lim dropped out of the race after a wave of online criticism appeared over his behaviour at work and during NS.
Since the announcement of his candidacy last week, Lim has been blanketed by criticism about his purported “elitism”, condescending mannerisms and arrogance.
PSP member Lee Hsien Yang and ex-NMP Eugene Tan question PAP’s screening process
Last Saturday, Progress Singapore Party (PSP) member Lee Hsien Yang also commented on the Ivan Lim saga when asked by reporters.
People should be worry about the PAP’s screening process on choosing its candidates for the upcoming GE, Hsien Yang said. He noted that the PAP “prides itself on the way that they select candidates” but they seem unprepared for the criticisms made against Ivan Lim.
“I don’t know whether they knew or didn’t know about some of these issues. If they knew about it, they didn’t seem prepared for it,” he said. “And if they didn’t know about it, then perhaps one should worry that the screening process is not as thorough as it can be.”
Hsien Yang, who is the younger brother of the PAP’s Secretary-General Lee Hsien Loong, was speaking to reporters during his walkabout at Holland Village – which is located in Tanjong Pagar GRC. The new member of PSP made world headlines after he joined the alternative party last week (24 Jun). But he is keeping mum on whether he would contest in the upcoming GE.
Former NMP and SMU Law Professor Eugene Tan also questioned PAP’s screening process for candidates. He noted that the dramatic turn of events marked an “unimaginable start by the PAP” to the campaign. “It is now hobbled by a fiasco that should never have been allowed to happen,” Prof Tan told SCMP.
“Had Ivan Lim not withdrawn his candidacy, the ruling party’s campaign would have tanked from the word go. But damage has been done,” he added.
In particular, Prof Tan said that the Ivan Lim controversy raised questions about PAP’s vetting process for candidates. “Now it badly needs to make up not only for lost time but also to restore its credibility. It is a self-inflicted body blow,” he shared.
Wong: We stand by our selection process
With regard to the negative comments on PAP’s candidate screening process, Wong tried to defend his party yesterday. Wong assured that his party, the PAP, has a “rigorous and robust” selection process.
“No process is perfect, no candidate is perfect, but we stand by our selection process,” Wong rebutted. “It is a selection process that has thrown up many good candidates over many years.”
But he kept reminding people to focus on what this GE is about – that it’s about jobs or livelihoods, and how Singapore can overcome the present crisis. “I think that should be on top of our minds,” he said. Wong is trying to tell the people not to focus on the Ivan Lim saga anymore.