By now we should have read Social and Community Development Minister Chan Chun Sing’s letters to US publication the Huffington Post and our local state media outlet, the Straits Times. We’ve also seen how that move to score political points didn’t quite achieve its intended results. Here’s 4 reasons why Major-General Chan might have even strengthened support for the opposition instead.
Chan made Personal Attacks on Chee’s Character
Politics is a dirty game, and the dirtiest blows are traded when personal attacks come into play. Maj-Gen Chan, in his letters, essentially branded Dr Chee a political failure, a traitor, and a cheat. He dug up petty details of Dr Chee’s dismissal from NUS, allegedly for misappropriating research funds.
Dr Chee was never charged in court for that. On the other hand, Maj-Gen Chan’s colleague, Singapore’s current Deputy Prime Minister has been convicted and fined under the Official Secrets Act. We don’t see opposition parties in Singapore constantly harping on that.
If you’re going to give a dog a bad name and hang him, choose the right mongrel, Maj-Gen Chan.
Chan Took the Higher Ground and Made Chee the Underdog
Major-General Chan Chun Sing must not forget that Dr Chee Soon Juan has been involved in Singapore’s political landscape for the past 23 years, having joined the SDP in 1992. He was also elected to lead the party.
Maj-Gen Chan, on the other hand, only arrived on the scene in 2011. He was elected into parliament on the back of the PAP’s Tanjong Pagar GRC team, which included Singapore’s formidable former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.
It’s arguable whether Maj-Gen Chan would have been elected into parliament had he contested solo, but we’ve all seen what happened to another nick-of-time PAP candidate, Dr Koh Poh Koon.
Chan tried to Frame Chee for Chiam See Tong’s SDP Ousting
The SDP spat back in 1993 was widely reported in the mass media, and many details are on public record. The SDP has also published a whole series on its website showing how Dr Chee did not plot to oust Mr Chiam, with accompanying newspaper articles to back its claims.
There is bad blood between the two men, given the circumstances in which Mr Chiam was booted from the SDP, but the blame for that lies solely on the SDP’s Central Executive Committee of that time.
To state otherwise either be an attempt to hoodwink Singaporeans, to embellish facts, or to display plain ignorance of Singapore’s political history.
And none of that would do Maj-Gen Chan any favours in the eyes of voters come the next General Election.
Chan Implied that Singaporeans are Stupid
Maj-Gen Chan stated that Dr Chee is always ready to sacrifice Singaporeans and Singapore if he can win points overseas. He also stated that Dr Chee’s biggest problem is that he has been heard by Singaporeans.
The only problem here is Maj-Gen Chan assumes Singaporeans don’t vote with their head. In the 2011 General Election, the SDP gained 13 percentage points in Sembawang GRC, even though it failed to win.
In Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, the party scored its best result since 1997, winning over 39.9% of voters.
If more Singaporeans are voting for the SDP, does it then mean that they’re ignorant?
On the flipside, this trend could also mean that more Singaporeans see the SDP coming into power as the lesser of two evils as life couldn’t get any worse for them.
So much for a political failure.
If I remember correctly, Lee Kuan Yew once said that it was wise to “speak softly and carry a big stick.”
The best advice that Singapore’s new crop of politicians from the ruling PAP can receive is “You already have the big stick, so learn to use it wisely”.
Then again, it’s pretty difficult to listen clearly if you’re still wet behind the ears.