Teaching an old dog new tricks

Posted: August 24, 2011 in Politics
Tags: , ,

Teaching an old dog new tricks, as the saying goes, is almost impossible.

The People’s Action Party aptly showed its inability to learn new tricks, judging from the uproar over Housing Development Board’s decision to lease open spaces in Aljunied GRC to the People’s Association instead of the newly minted Aljunied-Hougang Town Council.

While the PAP did not appear to have a direct hand in the matter, judging from the reactions from the online sphere, it would be pure naiveté to think the PAP wasn’t involved at all. Netizens were predominantly sympathetic to the Workers’ Party, and the magnitude and speed of the uproar appeared to have caught both HDB and the PA off guard, with a surprisingly quick turnaround in PA’s policy in less than a day following a standard, bureaucratic and unapologetic reply about the matter.

The recent parliamentary elections clearly showed unfavourable political winds blowing in the direction of the PAP boat, but instead of lowering the sails down the masts, the PAP has appeared to keep their sails up to continue catching the unfavourable winds. This situation could have been a political coup for the PAP in Aljunied GRC, but the botched handling of the situation could very well cement the Workers’ Party hold on Aljunied GRC.

While the Workers’ Party did wrest Aljunied GRC from the PAP, the winning margin wasn’t all that big. This indicates the loss of Aljunied GRC was likely the result of independent voters aligning themselves with the Workers’ Party rather than an organic decline in the numbers of PAP supporters. If the independent voters can align themselves with the Workers’ Party this time, they could very well abandon the Workers’ Party at the next general elections if the PAP played its cards right.

Unfortunately, the PAP appeared to have played a poor hand just a few months after the elections. If the PAP had kept status quo, allowing the new town council to manage the disputed sites, it could have made a big show out of it, possibly with George Yeo giving a press conference announcing a complete, proper handover and that the PAP is gracious in defeat. Imagine the guilt that would have been yoked onto the hearts of the independent voters who aligned with the Workers’ Party. The guilt would certainly be helpful in the next elections.

However, the PAP chose to hand the Workers’ Party a loaded gun instead, and the Worker’s Party has, perhaps with much glee, opened fire on the PAP using the gun. And now, the independent voters who fled from the fold of the PAP are probably nodding to themselves in approval that they did the right thing in voting against a bully.

Will the PAP learn from this episode not to shoot itself in the foot again, and perhaps surprise Singaporeans with a few good tricks or two? Stay tuned.

  1. Leong says:

    PAP has again shown their ugly faces and are instead now accusing the opposition-held Town Council of not approving their applications in the past.

    Do you want to believe the bully now when they have been acting as the bully all this while ?

  2. […] Association a Political Tool of the PAP? – Article 14: PA or PAP? – CHAPTER TWO: RELOAD: Teaching an old dog new tricks – Maverick’s Slice of Life: PA’s Folly Undermines PM’s Efforts – TOC: Political […]

  3. anon says:

    The PA and HDB justify their action by saying that the Hougang Town Council had not extended their cooperation to the losing PAP candidates in the past – losing candidates that were still appointed advisors to the grassroot organisations. So, based on what Hougang Town Council did, the HDB and PA have a right to collude to deny the elected people’s representatives’ participation in social activities with the constituents and the losing candidates can continue to participate ‘apolitically’ as grassroots advisors. How neat.

  4. Johntan says:

    You should have seen it the other way. Many of those who voted for PAP in the last GE could have done so not by choice . A next door simpleton neighbour of mine when asked who he voted remarked ” What to do, I am a civil servant” Most of my lady colleagues voted for MIWs because
    “Aiyoh, all the same lah , I don’t know who is Teo Suh Lung leh”
    if not for naive and I-don’t-bother-about-politics-but-only-my-daily-soap-and-weekend-shopping types, I could say the margin of victory for the WP in Aljunied could be higher.
    In any case a majority of 54% could be considered a landslide and by means a small margin

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