Well, finally the boss has spoken. The earlier foray into this subject by his henchman hadn't gone down well with many people, not least with this blogger. But I am disappointed. Somehow, PM Lee Hsien Loong's pronouncement on the subject of calling for/not calling for the widely anticipated Hougang by-election came across as less than Prime Ministerial. If he were in the hustings, it would have been expected. But in a Parliament where he is the Prime Minister and his party, the PAP, commands an unassailable majority, it grated on the ears when he all but blamed the WP for the loss of its MP in Hougang, that the people of Hougang are now without an MP because of the WP's thoughtless action in sacking Mr Yaw. Which is true, but it is not as if the WP wantonly and recklessly sacked its Yaw Shing Leong thereby causing the Hougang seat to be vacated and the residents of Hougang unrepresented. I believe them when they said it was a difficult and a non-unanimous decision to sack Mr Yaw. (Hmmm...why is it easier to believe the WP than the PAP nowdays?).
Even then, the PM is still happy to continue playing the cat-and-mouse game, saying in a rejoinder to Opposition Leader, Mr Low Thia Khiang, that he will inform the House the period in which the by-election will be called "as soon as I have finished considering all the factors". This is as blank a cheque as any I have seen. As some sensible people from the public have commented, what crisis is the nation facing now that it has to put the issue of a by-election on the back-burner? It may be true that Cabinet has more information than any person in Singapore and they are cognizant of the dire situation facing Singapore economically. They may be hunched over thinking through the strategy, options and responses so much so that 24,560 Hougang residents aren't all that important. Of course they are not important. It's the WP's sh*t-h*le and they are not in a hurry to step into it. One might even think that the PAP government has all but given up on winning Hougang back to its fold. Its a lost cause, so why give the WP the satisfaction of a victory so soon? Let them sweat and double up serving both Aljunied GRC and Hougang SMC. That'll deplete their energies and resources, surely?
I think that's the strategy. The PAP knows it is a lost cause, so it is better to exact as much damage on the WP resource-wise. But of course, it will suffer collateral damage, they are not stupid. More Hougang residents will be turned off by a PAPty that doesn't care. The real unknown is how much collateral damage it will sustain from the rest of Singapore, which is watching the drama as it unfolds very publicly?
I, for one, am put off and disappointed with the PAP over this incident, never mind that it put out significant sweeteners in Budget 2012. By the way, I don't live in Hougang.