"I don't know why he did that. He kicked an own goal." Dr Seet Ai Mee was using a football metaphor, much favoured by Goh Chok Tong, to summarise how a klutz robbed her of Ministerhood, and the financial riches associated thereof.
In this latest retelling, her political opponent in the 1988 elections, Singapore Democrat Party leader Ling How Doong, highlighted how she had washed her hands fastidiously after establishing tactile contact with a fishmonger at a wet market in Bukit Gombak. That did not stop her from triumphing at the polls, albeit by a 7 percent margin.
Years later at the next hustings in 1991, then Prime Minister Goh inexplicably resurrected the irksome episode, a harbinger of how he would rehash the Dhanabalan turn-the-other-cheek affair at the 2005 national day rally. Just two days before the balloting, Goh told the Bukit Gombak crowd that Dr Seet had a habit of washing her hands frequently as she was a pharmacist. "After shaking hands with a fishmonger, she washed her hands. But she has not done this since." The way he phrased it, nobody can tell whether Dr Seet had stopped shaking hands with fishmongers, or ceased washing hands altogether. Whatever. Although her supporters blamed the importunate story-telling for her electoral defeat, Dr Seet says her loss stemmed from a general national unhappiness at the rising cost of living, specifically the removal of 3 bus routes from Bukit Gombak and fares were being hiked. Looks like not much has changed since 1991, except maybe income disparity has widened, foreigners have displaced local born, and housing is now barely affordable.
Speaking from the benefit of hindsight, Dr Seet believes she was the wrong candidate for the Mandarin and dialect speaking blue collar ward. She does not speak a word of Mandarin, her second language is Malay. But hey, those handicaps never stop the guys from riding the GRC gravy train to a higher income tax bracket.