Saturday, May 14, 2011

Quitters' Row

What about net happiness?
"We thought people were happy and, in fact, walking the ground showed that people were happy with us. But the national mood, the national issues, just swept us... And when we realised (that) it wasn't just local issues but that national issues had taken priority, I thought it was rather too late", Mr Zainul Abidin Rasheed, 63, who was Senior Minister of State (Foreign Affairs) until booted out by the electorate, offered a familiar refrain on the Aljunied campaign.

For a "seasoned politician", MP since 1997, Zainul should have heeded the Bard's words from Macbeth, "Where we are, /There's daggers in men's smiles." He joins a chorus of sore losers who blame "national issues" for their downfall. There's nothing "national" about bread and butter issues like cost of living, affordable housing and being crowded out by foreigners, except that these are nation wide detritus of defective policy making. When BG Tan Chuan-Jin told the May 4 lunchtime rally at UOB Plaza that the ruling party has to change in order to retain the "moral authority", he only scratched the surface of a metasizing malaise in leadership. Debunking Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim's cavalier everything-is-water-under-the-bridge dismissal, Zainul Abidin Rasheed maintains otherwise: "You need only ask the Malays and Muslims in Singapore - many were hurt by those (MM's Hard Truth) remarks and remain so".

Zainul was once seconded to Mendaki and MUIS, where he was in position to provide inputs to aid a minority group. Personally, he represents a triumph over the marginal placing in a multi-racial society, thanks to being included in a higher income tax bracket. His children succeeded while their peers are still trying to play catch up in the fast paced GDP rat race. But Chinese and Indian Singaporeans have also slipped through the cracks of a jaundiced system that tend to favour the anointed elites. The income disparity will never narrow when the rich continue to be pampered with policy changes like the abolishing of estate duty, while the call for exemption of GST for essential items fall on deaf ears.

Zainul said that he is unlikely to stand for election again in 2016, but will remain as adviser to the grassroots organisations in Aljunied GRC, unless the party decides otherwise. The curious bit is his steadfast refusal to be the next Speaker of Parliament. One would think a voice in parliament has more impact in transforming society than a voice in a Residents' Committee. Perhaps he is sending a message that the wayang will go on, despite all the abject apologies and promises to reform their bad old ways. Besides, "Having not been elected, it is not appropriate for me to be considered as Speaker of Parliament." For this affirmation of personal integrity, Zainul can hold his head up high.


  1. It's ironical, but the Speaker of Parliament can't speak in Parliament on substantive issues.. basically he's like the time-keeper and referee only

  2. Can one still be a speaker of parliament after been booted out in a national election?

  3. Well we now have SM & MM voluntary retirement from the Cabinet. But they'll still stay as MP in their respective wards. What that means are

    1) That will save taxpayers a good $6-8m a year on their salaries
    2) They can still continue to have influence and say as a backbench MPs..albeit at a better value for money. MM Lee as a father no doubt dispenses his advice to his son even without such pay/title I'm sure.

    Not a bad start...the people have spoken.

  4. can't imagine having old fart or woody goh as speaker of parliament or next w.o. president.
    both men can make it "fun" for sissy Loong. LOL

  5. @Anonymous 5:20 PM

    Yes, the position allows for an unelected Speaker (the ones before independence were not MPs)

  6. Zainul Abideen Rasheed - like Yaacob Ibrahim, Maliki Osman, Zainuddin Nordin, Zaqy Mohammed, Halimah Yaacob and Fatima Lateef - are largely persona non grata among many, many Malay-Muslim Singaporeans.

    Before them, equally regarded as absolutely useless were Zainul and Yaacob's former colleagues such as Yatiman Yusoff, Sidek Saniff and Ahmad Magad.

    They reflect what is wrong with the PAP - choosing individuals who instead of listening to the concerns of the community which they were supposed to represent, did the opposite by telling the Malay-Muslim community to sit down and shut up.

    It's not just the recent comments by MM Lee which have caused serious hurt but all other issues where the Malay-Muslim community feels that the PAP Muslim MPs have failed them.

    Don't get me wrong. The Malay-Muslim community is not interested to extend its rights above and beyond what the constitution provides. What it wants is for its rights as provided by the constitution to be respected WITHOUT being accused of trying to be different, segregationist, distinct.

    As far as the large part of the Malay-Muslim community is concerned, the PAP Muslim MPs are not its MPs. We didn't vote for them and they have not right to determine what is right and what is wrong for the community.

    The PAP Muslim MPs need to start listening if they wish to regain their moral authority. Otherwise, come 2016, more and more Malay-Muslims will be voting in the Opposition like we did in Aljuneid, Marine Parade and other places all over Singapore.