It started when Goh Chok Tong said that ideally, MPs should serve at least 3 terms, but with MPs who are ministers serving 4 to 6 terms, it was difficult to meet the party's renewal target. As a result, some MPs who served 3 terms or fewer would have to retire to make way for new candidates. So what is he implying? Good guys are let being go before their official retirement age, while deadwood are allowed to cruise on past their expiry date? Goh admitted that, despite its efforts, PAP has not been successful in getting people from the private sector. "We should have 1 to 2 people from the private sector in their 40s, then there's diversity," he said.
As Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng is a 6 term relic, going on 7, it was natural for him to go on the defensive. Although 9 of the 15 PAP candidates unveiled are from the public sector or labour movement, Wong insists Goh is wrong and claims diversity still can be found in the ruling party's line-up. Instead of facing up to the public versus private discrepancy, Wong attempetd to redefine diversity as people with different experiences. However, when he mouthed, "Certainly people from the private sector will play an important contribution. But when we choose people, they too must be willing to come in," Wong inadvertently confirmed what Goh revealed - the PAP cup of tea was a turn off for those in the private sector.
Lee Hsien Loong tried another angle in damage control by asserting that those in the private sector may not be able to adapt to the thinking and culture of the civil servants. Their contacts may also be different from those of the bureaucrats, or so he said. Sounds pretty much like the fox in the Aesop's Fable who was not able to reach the grapes and declared them to be sour, beguiling itself of its disappointment by saying, "The grapes are sour, and not ripe as I thought."
Meanwhile the opposition parties seem to be faring better in gathering the juicy fruit, and will probably be just as successful in producing new wine for the people.