Everyday life · Quoted

“How to solve the Tin Peiling issue” by Mr. Miyagi’s friend

Text copied and pasted from Mr. Miyagi’s blog. The link is provided below. Everything within the **** is NOT written by me. It is written by a friend of Mr. Miyagi and was originally posted on FB (so said Mr. Miyagi).

http://miyagi.sg/2011/04/how-to-solve-the-tin-peiling-issue-2/

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The PAP was for many years joc­u­larly referred to as Pian Ah Pek or Pay and Pay. I remem­ber one after­noon, many years ago, talk­ing to the elderly Toh Chin Chye. He was by then long estranged from the party and still very anti-PAP. I shared with him these alter­na­tive inter­pre­ta­tion of his erst­while party’s acronym and was aston­ished that he hadn’t heard these rather clever jokes before. I was even more aston­ished when he burst out with such mirth that he wept; for a few min­utes he was so seized by parox­ysms of laugh­ter, he almost choked. This sweet moment for him had to be pro­longed and savoured. And so, in between more hearty guf­faws and dab­bing the tears rolling down his still-full cheeks, he asked me to repeat the joke, along with the other pokes about what WP, SJP and SDPalso stood for. To refresh your mem­ory: Why Pay? (Work­ers Party), Some Jok­ers Pay (the defunct Sin­ga­pore Jus­tice Party) and So Don’t Pay (Sin­ga­pore Demo­c­ra­tic Party). I chuck­led with him and we con­tin­ued a great yarn.

By now, of course, that joke is so 1990s. Not that the mean­ing has expired with time, since the PAP today still sub­scribes to that phi­los­o­phy. User pays is in fact immutable, sacred dogma. I’d like to add another inter­pre­ta­tion of PAP that is time­less in lan­guage and, regret­tably, in mean­ing too: Patro­n­is­ing, Arro­gant Pols. True, not as witty, but nei­ther am I.

Today we still see a polit­i­cal party that is Arro­gant and Patro­n­ises the elec­torate, despite great strides over some 15 yrs since that joke was in vogue. This Arro­gance and Patro­n­is­ing atti­tude rears its unpleas­ant head espe­cially in the run-up to the Gen­eral Elec­tion, which is trag­i­cally unfor­tu­nate tim­ing for the Party. In the inter­ven­ing years between each elec­toral period, the PAP in fact strives its utmost to gov­ern the coun­try wisely, tak­ing great pains to explain and pla­cate bewil­dered and/or dis­grun­tled peo­ple affected by any new pol­icy, adopts a very patient and hum­ble tone to edu­cate the cit­i­zenry and finesse new ini­tia­tives it rolls out, with a few Truly Spec­tac­u­lar Fail­ures in between (more below).

Yet when it comes time for it to really go out on a charm offen­sive, when we vot­ers are about to receive our polling slips and decide to give them “five more years”, to adapt the US elec­toral turn-of-phrase, the PAP dis­plays a Patro­n­is­ing and Arro­gant atti­tude instead. And every time it has been pun­ished for this unseemly behaviour.

In the mat­ter of Tin Peil­ing, SM Goh Chok Tong is reported to have told this young polit­i­cal hot potato to ignore the “noise”. This Noise is, quel hor­reur, actu­ally the Elec­torate, Mr Goh! The Noise is emit­ting from the very peo­ple she is try­ing to win over and even­tu­ally serve. Admit­tedly, not all those who com­plain are in the MacPher­son ward where she is slated to run. After all, MacPher­son is known to have a lot of old, blue-collared vot­ers who are less likely to be set­ting the blo­gos­phere aflame — and that’s where the old joke about Pian Ah Pek still rings true and fresh after all these years. Par­don us for being hoi pol­loi, but it is we who are assess­ing the par­ties over­all, even if we only get to vote for indi­vid­ual MPs assigned to each con­stituency. I am sorry that we the peo­ple of Sin­ga­pore are so both­er­some to our polit­i­cal lead­ers. After so many years of endemic walkovers, the Patro­n­is­ing, Arro­gant Pols may have for­got­ten that this time, a lot of us can actu­ally exer­cise our right to vote.

And just to clar­ify, but not to belabour the point, this Noise is not ema­nat­ing from polit­i­cal pun­dits, not med­dling for­eign inter­fer­ence, not sneer­ing and jeal­ous neigh­bours who wish us ill, not even the mot­ley oppo­si­tion in Sin­ga­pore. This Noise is Sin­ga­porean Voters.

I am just old enough to remem­ber the enor­mous uproar caused by the Grad­u­ate Mother Pol­icy, fol­lowed by the mor­ti­fy­ing climb-down. Then the con­de­scend­ing dis­missal of Chiam See Tong’s “O” lev­els results, the con­se­quences for which the rul­ing party has had to live with for many, many years. Then last election’s mor­ti­fy­ing climb down regard­ing PM Lee’s Freudian slip about “fix­ing the oppo­si­tion”, and back­ing off on The James Gomez Inci­dent. Then in this lat­est elec­tion cycle, the des­per­ate shut­ting of the sta­ble doors after the for­eign­ers bolted in in what must be the Most Spec­tac­u­larly Unpop­u­lar Pol­icy in Singapore’s short his­tory. Add Mere Mor­tal LKY’s art­ful “I stand cor­rected” retraction-without-a-retraction.

This pre-election, it will have to be about Tin Peil­ing. The crit­i­cal dif­fer­ence, though, is no senior cadre needs to be named, blamed and shamed; she can be her own sac­ri­fi­cial lamb.

Tin Peil­ing was picked pre­cisely to appeal to her peers, so it is with tragic irony that it is those same peers — and plenty of us older vot­ers — who are bay­ing for her removal/ solo contest/ jump­ing off coat-tails. Her pres­ence is a grow­ing and hideous blot on the PAP’s oth­er­wise bur­nished rep­u­ta­tion. What a dis­trac­tion for not only a Senior Min­is­ter to retire grace­fully while unveil­ing his exit strat­egy; but to eclipse the intro­duc­tion of a much more hon­ourable can­di­date, a for­mer Army chief. Beyond dis­tract­ing, it is marring.

By insist­ing on her cre­den­tials and hang­ing on to her, the PAP risks reviv­ing its image as Patro­n­is­ing, Arro­gant Pols on account of one such mere mor­tal (mm, not MM). Why? Is she really worth it? Is she worth rekin­dling cyn­i­cal vot­ers? Is she worth lost votes in other con­stituen­cies to the oppo­si­tion? Is she worth the dimin­ished regard of the PAP’s hal­lowed abil­i­ties? Is she worth the unnec­es­sary detrac­tion from other wor­thy can­di­dates? And, yes, is she worth so much Noise??

Early on, there was talk of a sui­cide squad of oppo­si­tion MPs to con­test both impreg­nable con­stituen­cies: Tan­jong Pagar and Marine Parade. I don’t know if that idea is still alive regard­ing that rather bit player party that rises like Lazarus from the dead at each elec­tion. If so, it might actu­ally get a whole lot more votes this time than even it could hope for in its wildest dreams.

So, to return to my sug­ges­tion. Tin Peil­ing should sim­ply bow out of her own accord, acknowl­edge that Finance Min­is­ter has been man­fully striv­ing to close the income gap not as an extra-curricular activ­ity but because he and his wiser col­leagues actu­ally do believe that it is the Government’s respon­si­bil­ity to do so, and save the party the ignominy of los­ing a stag­ger­ing lot of votes, and unnec­es­sary dis­trac­tion, and all the other rea­sons already mentioned.

Then to prove her met­tle, she can thumb her nose at us Noise by fol­low­ing her name­sake, Sarah Palin, and run for (Sin­ga­pore) President.

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