And so, one of the biggest things to happen in PAP’s 50-year history, made its way to our headlines – and the world’s – on the auspicious date of 12.12.2012. Mr Michael Palmer, Speaker of Parliament and member of the ruling PAP, had resigned from his posts, as accepted by his superior, the Prime Minister and Sec-Gen of the PAP.
Whoever said the PAP was squeaky clean had to be dreaming, dreaming far too deeply in the fairy tale spun by the PAP for decades. No man is saint and we are bound to moral failure, but it takes more than moral courage to rule a country; the system has to be in place.
Proponents of the PAP are likely to use this as an example to say that the system is “working” – see, we have someone as high-up as the Speaker who got caught and dealt with. But details have not fully unfolded, and Palmer has successfully “earned” his prerequisite to hide behind “peace” and “privacy” after “coming clean with the party and the people”. Well, how clean? How much do we know about his alleged affair?
But short of wanting to know more about people’s dirty little secrets, we just want to put things in the right perspective. Give credit where it is due, but not wrongly and mistakenly. In other words, do not over-credit. It begs to ask how much credit the man (and his party) really deserves.
At the conference with the media, Palmer’s (and DPM Teo Chee Hean’s) voice was nonchalant, although apologetic. There were no tears from him, unlike during the times of GE2011 when many including party chairman Lim Boon Heng, who eventually did not even contest in the polls, let tears rolled down their cheeks in the midst of an apologetic tone that surrounded the party as a whole (well, maybe not entirely). Tears, instead, came from the grassroots, as reported by DPM Teo and repeated in the subservient mainstream media, whether those were PAP or PA grassroots.
So the closely-knit relationship between the PA and the PAP came into the spotlight once again, with the MSM trying not to mention it. Teo Ser Luck, Minister of State and fellow MP of the PAP, came out to “clarify” that a photo of him with Palmer’s alleged “mistress” had been taken during a “retreat” to China. Of course, the MSM would not go further to ask questions like what retreat it was exactly, and to ask critical questions over the stark display of closeness between PAP, the ruling party, and PA, the national organisation supposed to act in national – and not partisan – interests. Of course, doing that would be bad for the PAP.
But to think that the PAP is not bold enough to admit that close relationship is also wrong. Lee Kuan Yew, touted-founding father of Singapore, himself made the statement that the PAP (is seen) ”in the RCs, CCCs, and the CCs (subsidiary bodies of the PA)” They are not actually afraid to admit it, just afraid that people think bad about that “unique” and “delicate” arrangement, just like for their unique “tripartite” labour relations.
It is also expected that the MSM would try to divert our attention, in the days to come, from the man and party himself and itself, to the woman involved in the saga. Sexism and misogyny would remain the “virtue” of our press and some unwitting online channels, only to serve the higher objectives and ideology.
And praise for the PAP and attack on the Opposition would continue despite anything. Already, Mediacorp News on the very first night, showed snippets of interviews of residents of the now-vacant Punggol East SMC, on its TV news, featuring many nice words about Palmer. To top it off, of course, CNA had to run on its site an article entitled: “PAP acts fast and efficiently on Michael Palmer affair: analysts” where an NUS professor gave his take on the issue from a totally-PAP-slanted point of view, a skewed, unbalanced and even unfair one at that. It is okay to make skewed or biased statements or judgments, because everyone has his affiliations and opinions, but making unfair statements is not right, although it has been the norm in our lapdog press that has gone on unchallenged because of mass media monopoly. Singaporeans have only to resort to the online media for news and perspectives from the “other side”, somewhere the older folks who do not use technology very much would have significantly less access to, not to mention apathetic youngsters who do not frequent news sites while surfing the internet or easy-to-sway folks who might be misled by PAP’s own online army.
And what should be the most important question for now is, whether the PM would call a by-election, and when he is making that “grand announcement”. Wayang is expected to come underway, before he makes the decision to hold one because it would be very unwise and unpopular to not do likewise. He has declined to brush up his own image as a decisive leader on the first day of the news, and has till date, not made any announcement of sorts, still “carefully considering” the option that has been ruled by our courts as a matter for his “discretion”.
Well, most ordinary folks do not usually like to be disturbed by politics too much. They want to get on with life as soon as possible. But they are apparently not able to do so when they are continually deprived of the ability to elect people they truly want to represent them, to get news and information that is as near complete as possible and without deliberate delay, and to live happier lives. They are stuck with the 60-40% situation, the mainstream media-indoctrination situation, the system-monopoly situation, and the unable-to-strike, unable-to-talk, unable-to-assemble situation.