by Augustine Low
One day after the leader of the pack fired the first salvo, calling opposition voters “free riders”, the rest of the pack came out to hunt.
Their prey: Jamus Lim of the Workers’ Party, who was making his maiden speech in Parliament yesterday.
Following his speech, Jamus was challenged intensely by 7 Members of Parliament from the People’s Action Party.
Jamus’ proposal for a minimum wage policy drew heavy artillery fire from the ravenous 7 which included three political office holders – Gan Siow Huang, Zaqy Mohamad and Tharman Shanmugaratnam.
Senior Minister Tharman, not known to play to the gallery, told Jamus to avoid “strawman arguments” like saying the government is only interested in efficiency, not equity. “That’s frankly laughable,” he put it bluntly.
While the MP for Sengkang GRC did not crumble, he must have felt the heat. It was a baptism of fire all right. A martini cocktail, shaken not stirred, would have done him a world of good after his 7 to 1 grilling. Incidentally, wolves are known to hunt in packs of 5 to 10, so 7 is just about the right number.
The die has been cast for the new Parliament. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said two days ago what he has been saying since GE2020 – the WP’s role is not just to ask questions but to propose policies for debate and scrutiny.
There will not be a free ride for the WP, that’s for sure. Seven PAP MPs taking on one WP MP – this could be the new normal in Parliament.
Those who proclaimed that the GE2020 outcome was a victory for the PAP, victory for the opposition and victory for Singapore had better eat their words. For the PAP, victory must be theirs and theirs alone, victory is not to be shared.
The loss of 10 seats to the WP is a bitter pill to swallow. PM Lee showed on Wednesday that he has been feeling the pain and anguish of being played out by free riders.
As they say, politics is a blood sport. So it’s fair game for the PAP to hunt and go for the kill. But overkill will not go down well with the spectators who will turn voters in five years’ time.
While the WP does not have the numbers and the firepower to fight fire with fire, it cannot roll over and become sitting ducks. Pritam Singh and his team had better arm themselves with Sun Tzu’s Art of War.