Monday, May 16, 2011
A House Divided
When someone makes a dramatic change in career plans, there're always the push and the pull factors. Since both ministers will lose their executive perks like 24/7 Gurkha security posted outside their residences, and the phalanx of Security Officers escorting them wherever they go, pull factor has to be on the low side. They might even fret about not having access to the VVIP lounge at Changi Airport, or picking up their own luggage from the carousel, as Goh Keng Swee did when faced with the retirement scenario. Charlie Rose might not be calling for another interview any time soon either.
Halimah Yacob also fantasized that the decision was not made as a result of the election. The watershed election, as we recall, started with the shedding of copious amount of water from Lim Boon Heng's tear ducts, and it was downhill from there onwards. SM Goh made it clear at one point that the election campaign was solely under the charge of PM Lee, and no one else. It was PM Lee who distanced himself and his cabinet from MM Lee who had urged local Muslims to "be less strict on Islamic observances". And at the conclusion of the profuse apologies rendered at Boat Quay, he made it abundantly clear that "we don’t try to do it MM’s style". In an instant, he dusted off the efforts of his father's generation, relegating it to the trash bin of history - "it’s a different generation from the Singaporeans who worked with you and built this Singapore in the 1950s, in the 1960s and ‘70s" - to make way for " me, my team, and we are taking it forward ... but doing it our way".
The new internet generation and social media crowd shouldn't be hasty to take credit for the push factors. Professor Ang Peng Hwa of Nanyang Technological University, reported: "We're trying to do this research project and were trying to look for a place where a pro-PAP blogger post would blog. We couldn't find a pro-PAP blog. The only pro-PAP blog was the PAP itself!" Lest we forget, there's still a large number of baby boomers who swear by the old brand name. And one million HDB owners scared stiff about negative asset enhancement. Not to mention those Civil Service card carrying members who hesitate to be seen standing next to an opposition candidate. It would take a couple of more punches to knock the incumbents out. Like the one telling constituency members they would have "five years to repent" if they voted for the opposition.
"The retirement of LKY was long overdue, as he has been seen as disconnecting from contemporary Singaporeans," said Bridget Welsh, a political science professor at the Singapore Management University. Whether that contemporary lot refers to the population at large or within party ranks remains to be seen.