Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Paper Tiger or a Pugnacious Prime Minister?

In the Parliamentary encounter between PM Lee Hsien Loong and the Workers' Party chief Low Thia Khiang, it was obvious that PM Lee was trying to use his more formidable prime minister position to overwhelm and in the process humiliate Mr. Low. But little did PM Lee realise that he had underestimated the pugnacity of Mr. Low who had been able to put up a sterling resistance to each and every one of his ineffectual attempt to put Mr. Low in a fluster.

Every time PM Lee questioned Mr. Low about the so-called lapses of the WP on political issues such as the Population White Paper, he had expected Mr. Low to crumble and not be able to provide a rational defence of the WP's stand on the issue. Credit must be given to Mr. Low for his quick and nimble retorts which must have baffled the conceited PM Lee of Mr. Low's leadership quality as chief of the WP whose eloquence can easily match that of the Cambridge-trained PM Lee. It was obvious that as the debate progressed PM Lee found to his dismay that he could not outsmart the astute Mr. Low and he ended by alluding to WP in having to call a spade a spade, a clear indication of his frustration, especially his failure to corner Mr. Low to concede that WP had flip-flopped over the Population White Paer debate.

It was an intellectual tussle delightful to watch if it were not for the belligerent and intimidating style of the inexorable PM Lee in presenting his arguments which may give credence to Mr. Low's assertion of a PAP bullying political culture. PM Lee could be imagining himself to be a ravaging tiger waiting to pounce on an unwary prey which to his utter horror turned out to  be a ferocious lion. PM Lee could have adopted a more humorous and humane style which could have won him more sympathy from the audience. He claimed himself to be "flame-proof".

Can the WP be faulted for its apparent perfunctory attitude towards the President's Address outlining the PAP programme? The answer probably lies in the perception of Singaporeans on the status of the present minority President. But the WP is not disrespectful to the President, his shortcoming notwithstanding.

As an independent political party with a considerable representation in Parliament, the WP is entitled to interpret its version of constructive politics and it is really up to the electorate to say whether it is credible and acceptable. So there is really no need for PM Lee to be so worked up to denigrate the WP for its position on this issue unless it is done purely to score a political point. It would be better for his public image if PM Lee curbs his impetuosity to fix the opposition, especially the so-called recalcitrant WP leaders, even if they are a threat to PAP's ambitions in GE 2016.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A PAP Comic Opera

Workers' Party chief Low Thia Khiang is to be highly congratulated for his chivalrous performance against the arrogant PAP in Parliament. He displayed a seldom seen fiery spirit in portraying the PAP as a government party using high-handed tactics against its political opponents as a bullying politicial culture. He asserted that if the government uses "differentiating measures" to punish those who voted for the opposition, it would breed a culture of divisive politics.

There is no doubt that Mr. Low has hit the nail on the head. The response was a disconcerted scramble by the leading PAP jesters falling over one another to attempt to vindicate an untenable factual situation. It is an irony that PAP MP Indranee Rajah could stoop to quote an old issue which is now academic that Workers' Party (WP) had given out contracts worth millions to its supporters without going through a tender, about which the WP had satisfactorily exonerated itself, in support of her argument against the WP. If this is an unpardonable sin of the WP, then would it not be a greater sin for the PAP to sell off a whole computer system of the Aljunied Town Council to a PAP-owned $3 company for a song? It seems more like an ad hominem attack.

Was Mr. Low making a wild allegation that PAP was pursuing a bullying political culture? The most glaring is the recent case of the unfortunate public-spirited blogger Roy Ngerng coming to grief with the inexorable PM Lee Hsien Loong over his blogpost on the CPF account which PM Lee has claimed to be libellous. Roy Ngerng did not accuse PM Lee of misappropriating CPF funds in so many words but this is for the court to decide. The crux of the article is that the PAP Government takes over our CPF to invest in GIC and Temasek Holdings to earn 6.5% to 16% but returns us only 2.5% to 4% in our CPF but neither PM Lee nor any other PAP leader has found it necessary to give an appropriate answer.

PAP is the government and commands the majority in Parliament. If it pursues a bullying political culture, there is nothing the WP or any other opposition political party can do to rectify the situation. The PAP has suffered a set-back in the last general election in 2011 and it is now determined to retrieve the unfavourable political situation in GE 2016. So PM Lee and his side-kicks suddenly became uber-ebullient overnight in introducing political and social benefits to ameliorate the livelihood and well-being of the electorate, especially the underclass, to pave the way for the PAP to regain their prowess in GE 2016. The so-called Pioneer Generation Package is a typical example. The wheel of history only moves forward and for it to move backwards for the PAP will have the historians flabbergasted. The Singapore electorate are now more discerning and will know how to cast their votes.